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Method Acting

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August 19, 2019

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” Crowley stated blankly, shock rendering his face devoid of emotion. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. It had to be a joke. “A.Z. Fell?”

“Yes. Glad to know your hearing is normal,” Beezle commented drily.

“Who the fuck is A.Z. Fell?”

“He’s an actor, and a rather good one. Surely you’ve heard the buzz about the new drama coming out, ‘Tadfield’. He’s the lead, and poised for superstardom after this film.”

Crowley racked his brain, but couldn’t call anything to mind about A.Z. Fell. The name was certainly familiar, but for some reason, he was connecting it with London, not LA. That couldn’t be right. Could it?

He shook off the thought and went back to his shocked disbelief. “I don’t understand,” he managed. “I genuinely don’t fucking understand, Beezle. I need you to enlighten me.”

“It’s simple. You haven’t had a hit in four years. Your last six movies haven’t done as well as expected—”

“They weren’t bombs,” Crowley muttered petulantly.

“No, they weren’t bombs, but given what you were doing five or ten years ago, they were a disappointment. Frankly, your star has fallen quite a bit as a result. Magazines aren’t writing about you, the paps don’t give a shit about you --”

“You say that like it’s a fucking bad thing.”

Beezle leveled a look at him. “It is a bad thing, and you know it. You know perfectly well that in this business, media silence is a death knell. If you’re not being talked about, you might as well lay down and die. But I know you, Crowley, and I don’t believe you’re done yet. You’re in a slump, yes, but I think you still have a few years of hits left in you. We just have to get people to pay attention again.”

“And you think the best way to do that is with a fake relationship with this A.Z. Fell?”

“Yes. If ‘Tadfield’ does even half of what people are expecting, he’s about to be on top of the world, career-wise. He’s already very much in demand, and highly sought after.”

“Then why the hell should he do this?”

“His manager, Gabriel, and I are old friends. He owes me a favor.”

“Some fucking favor,” Crowley grumbled.

Beezle ignored him. “You don’t have to do this. This isn’t the 1930’s, no one is going to force you. Your job doesn’t depend on it. But this could be very good for you, Crowley. I’m only asking you to go through with it for three months or so.”

Three months!

“Yes, at least three. Otherwise the paparazzi won’t even have time to be interested. After a few months, if you never want to see Fell again, you don’t have to. But think about it. Just think for a second. Think of your career.”

“There’s got to be some other way…”

“Oh, sure, we could do it without this, but dating someone on top of his game will open doors for you that I can’t open otherwise, or would be hard to open. It’ll propel you into the spotlight again. Your association with him will put you in front of casting directors and the like. Besides that, being linked with someone seen as stable and safe will help improve your own image. Your reputation precedes you.” Crowley scowled and Beezle leaned forward, propping their hands on their knees. “Think, you stubborn fool. Think of what this could mean.”

Crowley huffed, but he did as he was asked and thought about it. His star had fallen over the last several years, and the roles he was being offered lately were not nearly as good. Producers and directors didn’t want to take a chance on an actor who may not make a good return on investment, and Crowley hadn’t been as bankable lately. Sure, he still had plenty of money squirreled away, but he enjoyed what he did. He enjoyed the lifestyle - although he had to admit, the constant partying was getting old. And he missed working.

Beezle wasn’t done. “You’re not the only one who suffers when your career is in the dumps, you know.”

It was a pointed reminder if Crowley had ever heard one. And what’s more, Beezle was right. Everyone associated with him - Beezle, his agent, his accountants, everyone - stood to gain when he was successful and bringing home top billing pay. If he did well, they all prospered. If he floundered, they did, too. And if he floundered too much, they’d all leave him for greener pastures. Then he’d really be fucked.

“Three months, you said?”

“At least three. You get through to the end of November, and we’ll play it by ear. If the plan hasn’t worked and doesn’t look like it’s going to, we’ll stick a fork in it. But if it’s going well, we might milk it for a while longer. No longer than six months, though. Tops.”

Crowley sighed, his shoulders slumping a little, and he tried not to notice the gleam of triumph in Beezle’s eye.

“Tell me how it’s going to work.”

~*~O~*~

“I beg your pardon,” Aziraphale said politely, inclining his head forward a bit, as if to hear better. “So silly of me, but I’m afraid I must have misheard you, Gabriel. It almost sounded as if I’m going to be in a fake relationship.”

“That’s right,” Gabriel said with a bright smile, as if he was pleased Aziraphale had caught on so quickly to the most perfect plan anyone had ever come up with. A perfect gem of a plan. Aziraphale was forced to disagree.

“And just who are you proposing I have this sham of a relationship with, pray tell?” he demanded, voice chilly.

“Anthony J. Crowley,” Gabriel answered smugly.

“Anthony J. Crowley!” Aziraphale squawked. “But he’s… he’s…”

“He’s an A-list actor whose career has been on a downward swing for the last couple of years. You’re about to become an A-list actor when ‘Tadfield’ is released. You can help each other.”

“How on Earth can we possibly do that?”

“Your reputation as an actor is sterling - really, the best of the best - but no one knows anything about your personal life. You never go to parties and are very rarely social. Honestly, you’re developing a reputation as a recluse, a bookworm - almost a hermit. Certainly a stick in the mud. The words ‘fuddy duddy’ have been bandied about, and surely you can see how those would be detrimental to you.”

“I like who I am!”

“And there’s nothing wrong with who you are, Fell. But you’re boring. Boring doesn’t sell tickets.”

“I seem to be doing just fine,” Aziraphale huffed. “All my films have performed admirably.”

“They all did fine, but ‘fine’ isn’t what you want. ‘Fine’ is mediocre. You want excellence, and this will help you to get it.”

“I still fail to see how a false relationship is going to improve ticket sales - especially someone with the kind of reputation Anthony J. Crowley has. He’s a well-known rake.”

Gabriel leaned back in his chair, propping his feet on the desk and crossing his ankles, threading his fingers together and putting them behind his head. “First of all, no one says ‘rake’ anymore. Further, a torrid relationship with someone seen as your polar opposite will drum up interest in you. You’re not an unfortunate-looking man, Fell, despite being a little soft around the middle.” Aziraphale covered his belly protectively, but Gabriel didn’t pause. “There’s no reason why you shouldn’t have legions of fans who adore you and soak up your every move. Entire blogs and websites, devoted to you! You need to build an audience, and having a high-profile relationship can only help that.”

“You can’t make me do this,” Aziraphale tried. “It’s bound to be illegal. Isn’t it?”

Gabriel made a face that clearly indicated that Aziraphale was being ridiculous. “Of course nobody is making you do this. I’m just pointing out the benefits to your career if you agree to fake a relationship for the next ninety days or so. That’s all we’re asking. Three months - maybe more, if things are going well.”

“We? Who else is in on this?”

“Beezle, Anthony J. Crowley’s manager. They’re pitching the idea to him today, too, so we can get started as soon as possible.”

Aziraphale was quiet for a few moments, contemplating. It was a ludicrous idea, laughable, really. But would it work? Aziraphale had always loved acting, loved the craft, but he’d promised himself when he came to LA that if he ever made it big, he’d stay in the spotlight long enough to build up a comfortable nest egg, then he’d ‘retire’ back to London with his books and beat the boards in the West End whenever it pleased him. He’d had it all planned out… but he hadn’t quite had the success in LA he’d hoped for. He was comfortable enough, but not yet able to return to London full time. Los Angeles was still where the money was, so that was where he needed to stay for now - at least part-time.

But if Gabriel was right, this faked relationship could propel him into a higher status - which would let him see his retirement sooner. He certainly wasn’t getting any younger, and frankly was lucky to be getting the parts he was getting at his age. If pretending to date Anthony J. Crowley would open him up to more roles, what could it hurt?

Aziraphale sighed. “I must be mad.”

“You’ll be mad if you don’t do this. I promise, Fell. This will work. Three months of your life to secure the rest of your life. You’d be crazy to turn that down.”

He wasn’t so sure about that, but acquiesced. “Tell me how this is supposed to work.”

Chapter Text

August 21, 2019

Thirty hours later, Aziraphale was plagued with second thoughts as he nervously sipped a glass of wine at his agent Michael’s house.

He was not fond of parties and never had been, and did his best to skip out on them as often as possible, avoiding being social at virtually all costs. Yet here he was in Michael’s house with soft piano music playing from somewhere, with a glass of expensive red wine in his hand. People he didn’t know (but should) milled around, talking to each other while he stood off to one side and tried very hard to disappear. He was pleasant and sociable when approached by someone, of course - it wouldn’t do to be rude - but he didn’t seek anyone out to talk to. His nerves simply wouldn’t allow him to be effervescent and bubbly unless he had to.

What had he been thinking? The very idea of propagating such a blatant lie as to fake a relationship - and with a man with a reputation like Anthony J. Crowley’s - he must have had a bout of temporary insanity to agree to this. That was the only explanation. He must have been more than a bit mad in that moment. This was preposterous! He liked to think of himself as a decent actor, but he genuinely wasn’t sure whether he’d be able to pull this off. He’d had so few relationships, anyway - and none in the last several years, since he’d moved to LA - would he even know how to conduct himself? Would he know what to do? Oh, he was going to make a fool of himself, he just knew it. He should call Gabriel over right now and tell him quite firmly that he’d done some thinking and --

His entire train of thought stopped when he spotted Anthony J. Crowley across the room. He was mingling, speaking with people he apparently knew, and hadn’t seemed to notice Aziraphale at all. Then again, why would he? Aziraphale was a skilled wallflower. It was fine, he told himself. It gave himself time to take the other man in… and to calm his rampaging nerves.

Mr. Crowley (Anthony?) was dressed in all black, with just a hint of dark red around the collar. It could have looked ridiculous, but didn’t. The tall, red-haired man somehow made it look… cool. He wore a pair of sunglasses that obstructed part of his face, but what Aziraphale could see was breathtakingly handsome. He’d seen him in movies before, of course, but he’d never thought of him as a heartthrob - up close, however, in the same room with him, breathing the same air, it was impossible to think of him as anything else. And then he smiled, and poor Aziraphale’s heart flipped right over in his chest.

He was supposed to pretend to be in love with this man for the next three months? Oh, dear lord, he was in trouble. Aziraphale took a large sip of his wine and did his best to look away lest he be caught staring.

“Handsome devil, isn’t he?” Gabriel asked in a low voice, suddenly materializing beside Aziraphale. “Not my type, of course, but I can see the appeal for someone like you. At least you’ll have a good time looking at him for the next few months.”

Aziraphale hummed, mind still awhirl with thoughts and sensations from just seeing his fake boyfriend for the next three months. He stole another glance at Anthony (Mr. Crowley?). He was getting closer, and Aziraphale felt panic rise in his throat.

“I can’t do this,” he confided to Gabriel, leaning closer so as not to be overheard. “I simply can not do this, Gabriel.”

“You’ll do fine, Fell. Be a man!” Gabriel replied in what he clearly thought was a bracing tone, but felt like more of a command for Aziraphale to step into a burning column of fire. He clapped Aziraphale on the shoulder a bit harder than necessary, making him flinch. “Just… don’t be too much like yourself. A.J. Crowley tends to be more of a free spirit, and you’ll do well to emulate him.”

“A free spirit…?”

Gabriel didn’t elaborate, just spoke through his teeth without moving his lips. “Ah, here he is. Smile!”

Aziraphale didn’t think he’d be able to smile if his life depended on it, but he did turn to greet the other actor.

“Gabriel Messenger, isn’t it?” Anthony Crowley said with a smile, his hand extended.

“Yes, and you must be Anthony J. Crowley. Your reputation precedes you.”

“Well, that could be good or bad, so I’ll choose to believe the good,” he said with a winning smile - that was just slightly chilly. Even behind his glasses, Aziraphale could tell the smile didn’t reach his eyes. He wondered why, briefly, then dismissed the thought. Gabriel was a… a bit of a knob sometimes, and the red-haired man must have picked up on that.

“And who’s this?” he asked, turning to face Aziraphale.

Gabriel put on his most charming smile and also turned to Aziraphale, clapping him on the shoulder again, hard enough to hurt. He tried not to flinch this time.

“This is A.Z. Fell. Fell, meet Anthony Crowley.”

Aziraphale did his best to put on a genuine smile and offered his hand. “A pleasure to meet you.”

“The pleasure’s all mine,” Mr. Crowley replied in a low, seductive voice. He took Aziraphale’s outstretched hand and oh dear God, Aziraphale’s knees nearly buckled from the pulse of electricity that skittered up his arm. This close, Anthony J. Crowley was even more handsome, and Aziraphale could hardly stand it. He was nearly the same height as Aziraphale, only slightly taller (perfect for kissing, his brain thought traitorously. Aziraphale pushed that down immediately). His auburn hair was stylishly tousled, and there was an endearing sprinkling of freckles across his nose. There seemed to be an energy radiating from him, a presence, and Azirapahle feared if he wasn’t careful, he’d be sucked into this man’s orbit.

But most striking of all was the change in Anthony J. Crowley’s smile. Gone was the forced, chilly, shark-like smile he’d given Gabriel. The smile he was bestowing on Aziraphale felt much more genuine, and Aziraphale couldn’t help but feel a little wibbly in the face of it.

Stop it, he chastised himself. Are you going to spend the next three months in a state?

“I believe I’ll let you two chat a bit,” Gabriel said smoothly.

Aziraphale was no fan of his manager, usually, but he still nearly opened his mouth to beg the American man to stay. Gabriel gave his oily smile. “I’m sure you two have quite a lot to talk about. Anthony, it was good to meet you. Fell,” he started in a lower voice that wouldn’t be overheard and squeezed his shoulder hard. “Make me proud. Don’t fuck this up.” The next thing he knew, Aziraphale was staring at empty air.

“So,” the red-haired man said, forcing Aziraphale to turn his attention to him. “You and I, for the next three months, eh?”

He nodded, clutching his wine glass a little tighter. “Yes, that’s what I hear.”

Anthony J. Crowley was still grinning as if pleased with the circumstance, and Aziraphale gave him a timid, unsure smile in response, his eyes roving over the other man’s face then skittering away nervously, only to come skittering right back a moment later. He really was exceptionally handsome. And he didn’t seem repulsed by Aziraphale.

Don’t get your hopes up, he ordered himself. He’s an accomplished actor, and he’s just doing his job. Don’t read too much into it, give meaning where none is there.

“I confess, Mr. Crowley, I’m not entirely sure how to go about this. I haven’t been in any relationship for several years, and certainly not a…” He lowered his voice conspiratorially, “a fake relationship.”

“Well,” he answered, leaning against the wall with an easy grace and air of confidence Aziraphale couldn’t help but admire, “I’ve never done this before, either. But I dare say the best way to start would be us getting to know each other a bit, yeah? Biographical information and all that. Things we’ll need to know.”

Aziraphale nodded. That sounded reasonable. “Yes, let’s. That sounds good.”

“Let’s start with what to call each other, shall we? What’s your name? What does A.Z. stand for?”

He colored. He always felt awkward revealing his name, but it didn’t make sense for this man to call him ‘Fell’ for the next three months. His closest friends called him by his given name, and it would be expedient for him and Mr. Crowley to be good friends in order to pull off the deception they were involved in. So there was no reason for him not to share his name. Still… He didn’t think he could bear being mocked by this handsome man.

“Promise you won’t laugh?” he asked, sounding small in his own ears.

The other man made an X over his chest with the hand not holding a glass of wine, but his lip quirked up. “Cross my heart.”

“It stands for Aziraphale Zacchaeus.”

Mr. Crowley didn’t laugh, but his eyebrows shot up. “Aziraphale Zacchaeus? That’s quite a mouthful.”

“Yes, it really is, which is why I shortened it to simply my initials in my professional life.”

“Do they mean anything?”

“Yes. Aziraphale is the name of an angel. A principality, actually.”

“Is there a difference?”

“There’s some difference. Angels have ranks, you see, and ‘principality’ is just another rank. Slightly above archangels, which are more well-known. All principalities are angels, but not all angels are principalities. Does that make sense?”

“It does. And the other name? Zac…”

“Zacchaeus.”

“Yes. Does it have a meaning, too?”

“It means ‘pure’ or ‘clean’ in Hebrew. Sometimes ‘just’.”

AJ Crowley looked faintly amused, but considering. “It seems your parents had a life plan for you in mind, with names like those.”

“My father taught religious philosophy at the University, and my mother taught History. They both very much wanted me to become a scholar, and I do love to read and study, but I’m afraid the acting bug bit me and I became a thespian, instead. I like to consider myself well-read, however, and my retirement plan, such as it is, involves all the books I can get my hands on.”

“Seems like a solid plan,” he said approvingly.

Aziraphale took a sip of his wine. He rarely talked so much around people he didn’t know. What on Earth had come over him? Had he blathered on and made a fool of himself? Oh, he hoped not. He wouldn’t be able to stand it.

“What shall I call you then?” Mr. Crowley asked with a smile. “I have to confess, I’m leaning towards ‘angel’.”

He felt his cheeks color a bit, but did his best not to let on how flustered he was. “Aziraphale is fine. It’s what my friends and acquaintances not in the business call me.”

“Aziraphale it is, then. Although I may slip up and call you ‘angel’ from time to time. I hope you won’t mind.”

The smile he was giving Aziraphale would have melted lead and made something in Aziraphale’s belly squirm pleasantly. Was he actually flirting? No, that couldn’t be. No one ever flirted with Aziraphale, especially not handsome movie stars. He was more likely a talented method actor who fully immersed himself in a role - and he saw Aziraphale as just another role. That had to be it.

Aziraphale fought down a stab of disappointment.

“What about you?” he asked, shaking his thoughts away. “What shall I call you? Anthony? AJ?”

“No, no. I rarely use my first name if I’m not working. Please, call me Crowley.”

Aziraphale furrowed his brow a little. “You wish me to call you by your surname?”

“If you’d like to. It’s what my friends call me, and I’d rather like you and I to become friends.”

He swallowed. “Then Crowley it shall be.”

Crowley took a sip of his wine, then smacked his lips a little - in a very appealing way. “So, Aziraphale, where are you from? Britain, obviously, but I can’t pin down your accent.”

“Yes. I was raised just outside London. You? Your accent sounds like home.”

“Not as posh as yours, I daresay,” Crowley scoffed. “But yes, I was raised in London.”

“Lovely,” Aziraphale said, happy to have picked the accent out. “Do you go back often?”

“As often as I’m able. I have a home here, of course, but I prefer my flat in Mayfair. Plus, my car is there.”

Aziraphale’s eyebrow raised. “You don’t have a car here?”

“I do, yes, but my car at home is a 1926 Bentley - immaculately kept.”

He was impressed in spite of himself. Aziraphale knew very little about cars, but he was aware enough to realize that a vintage car that old was very special, indeed.

“Oh,” he said, rather intelligently. “How nice.”

“If we find ourselves in London sometime over the next few months, I’ll take you for a ride.”

Aziraphale had a sudden flash of a dirty thought and shoved it away. What on Earth was his problem? “Oh, yes. That would be very nice, thank you.”

“S’no problem. How about you? Do you get home often?”

“As often as I can, yes. I maintain a flat over a bookshop in Soho.”

Crowley smirked a bit, no doubt thinking of Soho’s seedy reputation. “Soho, eh?”

“Yes. I’ve had it since I moved into town for drama school when I was eighteen, and have kept it ever since. It’s small, but cozy, and I rather like it. Getting a bit homesick, actually. I haven’t been there for several months - not since Christmas.”

“Well, perhaps we should go sometime in the next couple of months. It would do both of us good to return to our home turf, don’t you think?”

“Yes, that’s a good idea. Plus, if everything goes according to plan, it will interest journalists on both sides of the pond, and that’s what we want, isn’t it?”

Crowley winced slightly, and Aziraphale regretted his words. Crowley probably didn't like this any more than he did, but they were stuck with these circumstances for the next ninety days.

“I’m sorry,” he said in a softer tone, “I didn’t mean --”

“It’s fine, angel,” Crowley said at once, and Aziraphale felt a thrill all through himself at the use of the nickname. Crowley didn’t seem to notice his reaction to the word and asked another question to keep conversation going. “So, when were you in drama school?”

“Oh, twenty years ago, now,” he answered with a wistful sigh. “I graduated in the late 90’s.”

“I just missed you. I started in 2002.”

“Then we likely had some of the same instructors! Tell me, did you have Fitzsimmons?”

“That old battle axe!” Crowley laughed, and Aziraphale laughed, too. They spent the next little while comparing notes on professors they’d had and roles they’d played while still in drama school. The more he talked, the more Aziraphale found himself entranced by this man. It would be easy to forget that this was all a sham and fall in love with Crowley, but he mustn’t let himself do that. This was all going to end in three months, and he desperately needed to remember that, for the sake of his heart.

When the topic of drama school had played itself out, Aziraphale wondered what to say next. Thankfully, Crowley was one step ahead of him.

“Listen,” he said quietly, leaning closer to Aziraphale to make himself heard. “I know this wasn’t your idea and you’re probably not wild about what we’re being pressured to do. But I’d like to reassure you that regardless of my reputation, I’m not a monster. You may even find yourself having a good time with me, if you let yourself go. But if you are bitterly opposed to faking a relationship for the next few months, I’ll gladly tell Beezle to fuck off. You don’t have to do this.”

Aziraphale wished he could see his eyes, but even without seeing them, he believed the sincerity of Crowley’s words. This was an escape hatch, an easy out, and he was tempted to take it. But he thought about his little flat in Soho and all his books, and the books he wanted to buy. He thought of the joy of getting back to the stage - but working on his terms. He thought of being able to do for various charities, and give back to his fellow man. He thought of how nice that would be, and how long he’d wanted it.

But more than anything, he thought of spending the next three months with this enigmatic, gorgeous man with the knee-buckling smile who didn’t seem to be at all like his reputation. Could he do it? Without falling in love, that was.

He didn’t know, but he was willing to try.

“No, that won’t be necessary. I - I think you and I will get along splendidly.”

Crowley’s face brightened, like the sun peeking from behind a cloud. “Excellent! Now, give me your mobile.”

“My mobile?”

“Yes. Don’t you think if we’re to be dating, we should exchange numbers?”

“Oh! Yes, of course.” Aziraphale pulled out his mobile and unlocked it, handing it over to Crowley. The other man tapped on it a bit, then handed it back. “There you go. I listed myself as Crowley, and my number and email address are in there. May I have your number?” he asked, offering his mobile.

Aziraphale took it with a small smile and plugged in his contact information. “There you go,” he said as he handed it back.

“Brilliant,” Crowley said, face alight. “So, my understanding is that our first ‘date’ is scheduled for Friday. Is that what you’ve been told?”

“Yes, two days from now. We’re to go for sushi.”

“Do you even like sushi? I know it’s not everyone’s favorite.”

“Oh, I love it,” he rhapsodized. “And I’ve never been to the restaurant we have reservations for.”

“Nor have I. It’ll be an adventure.”

“Yes!”

Crowley looked hesitant for the first time. “Should we… shall I…?”

“Shall you what, dear?” he asked, letting the endearment slip unnoticed.

“Would you like to meet me there, or shall I pick you up?”

“Oh! Well, I don't drive, but I don’t mind taking an uber. You don’t have to --”

“I want to,” Crowley interrupted, then gave a little smile, almost sheepish. “I don’t mind picking you up. It’d be my honor.”

Once again, Aziraphale was struck with the idea that Crowley seemed… interested. But that was patently ridiculous. Why would a Hollywood heartthrob be interested in a slightly paunchy, bookish, B-list actor?

Method acting, he reminded himself. He’s throwing himself into the role.

With sudden, crystalline clarity, Aziraphale knew for absolute certain that in three months, when this charade was over, he was going to experience the worst heartbreak of his life. If he was smart, he’d take the out he’d been offered and run away as fast as he could, telling Gabriel it was never going to work. That would be the intelligent thing to do, and Aziraphale liked to think of himself as intelligent.

But he didn’t. Instead, he gave Crowley a bright smile and said, “I look forward to it. See you at seven on Friday, then?”

Chapter Text

August 23, 2019

Crowley replaced the toothbrush in the holder and wiped his mouth quickly, then turned back to his reflection. He bared his teeth to make sure he hadn’t missed a spot, then ran his tongue over his minty fresh pearly whites. Good. It wouldn’t do to have bad breath tonight.

He checked his hair again, making sure it still looked properly tousled, and was pleased with his reflection. He looked good, if he did say so himself. Pretty damned good. Hopefully, Aziraphale would be impressed.

After agreeing to date A.Z. Fell on Monday, he’d spent the next day and a half before their planned introduction plotting and planning ways to back out. He’d googled his proposed ‘boyfriend’, and there was very little to be known about him other than biographical information. Crowley wasn’t interested enough to dig for anything beyond the first page of image results. Fell was handsome enough, he had reckoned upon first glance, but he really couldn’t get a good read. Nearly all of the photos had been of Fell in character, which told him nothing about the man himself. Frustrated, he’d closed his laptop and kept formulating ways to get out of this ridiculous plot. He’d even rang Beezle up and stated flatly that he wasn’t willing to go along anymore. His manager had talked him out of abandoning the whole plan, and he’d reluctantly agreed to go to Michael’s party that night.

He’d been a little taken aback when he’d spotted Fell across the room. He had cottony-blond, curly hair, and dressed a bit old-fashioned in all neutral shades with just a hint of light blue mixed in. Nobody dressed like that anymore - and hadn’t really since the fifties. It should have been ridiculous, but somehow, it just looked right on Fell. Very debonair. Old Hollywood.

Downing a glass of wine hurriedly and grabbing a fresh one, he’d decided he might as well get it over with. He’d approached with a smile, fully prepared to tell Fell he was perfectly happy to call the whole thing off. But then Fell had smiled at him, and the oxygen had left his lungs in a whoosh. He’d done his best not to let on that he was affected - he was an award-winning actor, after all - and it seemed Fell hadn’t noticed. But Aziraphale Fell had captured his interest within the first thirty seconds of his acquaintance, and with every passing minute they chatted, Crowley only found himself more and more interested.

It made sense that he’d be attracted to Aziraphale: he was just Crowley’s type. Slightly older, slightly shorter, slightly soft, blond hair and eyes that were not quite blue. He was intelligent and well spoken and seemed genuinely kind. The old-fashioned clothes were… old-fashioned, but they certainly didn’t turn Crowley off. He had a keen appreciation for the classics, anyway. Aziraphale checked every one of his boxes so far, and when he’d offered an out from this fake relationship, he’d only done so halfheartedly while hoping Azirapahle wouldn’t take him up on it. The twenty-minute conversation with him had frankly been the most relaxed Crowley had felt in all his years in LA, and he very much wanted to get to know him better.

Crowley adjusted his hair needlessly in the mirror, making sure everything was just so and letting his mind wander a bit. There were several dates upcoming, pre-planned for them by their managers, to fuel tabloid speculation of a blooming romance. In three weeks, they were to attend an awards ceremony together, parading down the red carpet - their first official outing as a couple. While Crowley still cringed at the thought of being followed by paps again, he was rather excited for the dates. They were going for sushi tonight, then on Sunday afternoon, they were scheduled to be seen leaving a film together. Next Wednesday, they had tickets to the LAFC game, and Crowley couldn’t remember beyond that. It didn’t matter. He was looking forward to them all. Couldn’t wait, frankly.

Bloody hell, he hadn’t been this excited for a date in years, and even when he applied his memory, he couldn’t remember the last time he’d been this attracted to someone. Crowley hadn’t done much dating, really, not in recent years. When he’d had an itch he couldn’t scratch with his own right hand, he’d tempted the occasional co-star or crew member into sex - always making very clear from the start that there’d be nothing more than sex. A couple of them, who’d managed to keep their head on their shoulders, had turned into friends -with-benefits situations that lasted a few months or so. But on the whole, Crowley had been alone for years. He’d had a hell of a good time, but he’d known loneliness - even when surrounded by people.

But maybe - just maybe - he’d be able to stave off that loneliness for the next three months. And if his interest didn’t wane and he was very, very lucky, perhaps even longer.

He shook off that thought, telling himself there was zero indication that Aziraphale was remotely interested in such a thing. He was putting the cart before the horse. It wouldn’t do to project something onto Aziraphale that wasn’t there. He had to be smart about this, play his cards exactly right. Feel Aziraphale out a bit. Maybe the blond was attracted to him, maybe he wasn’t. But Crowley had been making heads turn and audiences fall in love with him for years. He knew how to win hearts - if Aziraphale’s heart was even winnable, and if he even wanted to win it. For now, he was just ...interested.

His phone buzzed on the counter with a text. He picked it up to find a message from Beezle.

Beezle: good luck tonight. don’t fuck this up.

He snorted, replied quickly, then slipped the mobile into the pocket of his too-tight trousers and gave himself one more once-over. Yep, still looked good. His eyes fell on the bottle of cologne and he debated for a moment before splashing some on. There. Now he’d smell good, too. Perfect.

“You can do this,” he spoke aloud to his reflection. “You’ve got this. Just be cool.”

Nodding to himself, he left the bathroom, flicking off the light and grabbing his keys, then heading to the garage.

~*~O~*~

Aziraphale’s nerves were a riot as he paced around his flat, dodging stacks of books, waiting for Crowley to show up. It was ten minutes to seven, and he knew there was still plenty of time, but he couldn’t help his anxiety. Settle down, he admonished himself. Crowley seems like the type to be fashionably late and besides, this isn’t even a real date. Calm yourself.

His stern talking-to didn’t really do any good, so Aziraphale did the one thing he knew would work - he picked up a battered paperback and plopped down into his favorite armchair, starting to read.

The plan worked, and he was much more settled when there was a knock at the door twelve minutes later, startling him. All at once, his heart was in his throat again when he carefully marked his page and closed the book, going to the door, flexing and relaxing his hands nervously. He put his hand on the doorknob, took a deep breath, then opened the door.

Crowley stood there, wearing much the same outfit he’d been wearing the night they met - dark, slim-cut denims, a black shirt and black jacket with a loose-fitting tie or scarf dangling from his neck. The dark silver tie and hint of dark red under the collar were the only splashes of color he wore. His sunglasses still rested on his nose, obscuring his eyes, and his feet were encased in what looked like snakeskin shoes. Aziraphale wondered if he’d ever see the other man’s eyes.

“Hello, angel,” Crowley said with a crooked smile, and Aziraphale felt his heart flip over in his chest. “Ready to go?”

“Yes,” he answered, recovering quickly and chastising himself for the reaction. He’s a method actor, he reminded himself. Aziraphale squared his shoulders slightly with new resolve and said, “I just have to gather my mobile and wallet. Please, do step inside.”

Crowley did so, looking around the lounge, and Aziraphale felt more than a little self-conscious. He couldn’t remember the last time anyone had been in his flat, and looking at it from an outsider’s perspective, he supposed it was a bit shabby.

“This is nice,” Crowley said politely. “Very cozy.”

Aziraphale flushed. “Cluttered, you mean.”

“No, cozy. I have to admit, though, I didn’t know there were this many books in all of LA county.”

He laughed in spite of himself. “How you do run on.”

Crowley was giving him that crooked smile again. “Yes, I’m teasing. But this is a truly remarkable number of books.”

“I very much like to read. It relaxes me and fulfills me at the same time. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of getting lost in a good book.”

“I’ll take your word for it, angel.”

Aziraphale raised his eyebrows in surprise. “You don’t read?”

Crowley shrugged. “I read scripts, of course, and if I’m making a film adaptation of a novel, I’ll read that. But honestly, it’s been a long time since I read for pleasure, and when I did, it was usually graphic novels.”

Graphic novels were not Aziraphale’s preferred medium, but he gave a non-committal hum rather than be rude.

“I’ll just be a moment. Need to grab my mobile off the charger. I’ll be back in a second, and then we can get a wiggle on,” he said, then left Crowley to duck into his bedroom, ostensibly to get his phone. And he hadn’t lied, his phone was on the charger beside the bed, but in truth, he’d needed a minute. He’d gotten a whiff of Crowley’s cologne and suddenly felt a little drunk. Aziraphale closed his eyes and leaned against the wall for a minute to get his bearings.

Stop this this instant, he lectured himself sternly. This is a business arrangement, a fraud, and you have simply got to remember that. Don’t develop feelings for this man. Don’t you dare…

Aziraphale nodded to himself and took a deep breath. He had a good head on his shoulders and always had done. This was an unusual situation, sure, and the fact that he found Crowley attractive was a bit problematic, but he could deal with that. He was a professional actor, after all. Crowley was clearly treating this as just another job - Aziraphale could do the same. Easy peasy. Tickety-boo.

He straightened his shoulders and grabbed his phone, going out to meet his pseudo boyfriend to go on their first ‘date’.

~*~O~*~

After a harrowing, white-knuckle ride to the restaurant in Crowley’s Aston Martin, they arrived at a trendy sushi place. As he’d told Crowey, he’d never been there, and was looking forward to the opportunity to try something new - after his pulse calmed down from that car ride, that was.

With the exception of a couple of moments when Aziraphale was actively praying for his life and a handful of interjected ‘watch out!’s, conversation flowed easily in the car during the twenty minute ride to the sushi restaurant. There were no awkward pauses, and Aziraphale was glad. He loved stimulating conversation almost as much as he loved a good book, and it seemed Crowley was a good conversationalist. That was a relief - at least they’d be able to talk over the next three months.

Crowley pulled up to the valet parking and handed over his keys with a dire warning that he’d better not see a scratch. His voice went all low and dark when he growled the threat, and Aziraphale couldn’t help but feel a thrill run down his spine. He’d love to hear that voice growling in his ear, something low and seductive…

No.

He shook his head to clear it just in time for Crowley to finish scaring the parking attendant and smiled brightly when asked if he was ready.

“Of course, lead the way.”

Crowley didn’t take off his sunglasses once they were inside, and Aziraphale wondered again if he’d ever see the red-haired man’s eyes. Hopefully soon. He was dreadfully curious.

“You said you’d never been here before, is that correct?” Crowley asked, opening his menu.

“Hmm? Oh, no, I haven’t.”

“I haven’t either, so I have no idea what’s good. I was hoping you could advise me.”

“In cases like this, I usually just request the chef’s special,” Aziraphale said. “Sometimes it’s a dud, but most of the time I’m pleasantly surprised.”

“That sounds good, I think I’ll do that too. Would you like some sake?”

“Please,” Aziraphale answered gratefully, with a smile, thinking a little alcohol may help to calm his nerves. The waitress appeared, informed them that the chef’s special was really quite good, and both men ordered that. Crowley asked for the restaurant’s best sake, which was brought around almost immediately, and he poured each of them a generous measure. When he was done, he lifted his glass for a toast. Aziraphale followed suit.

“To new friendships,” he said with a smile, and Aziraphale flushed lightly.

“To new friendships,” he echoed, and the two toasted.

Dinner arrived shortly after and they tucked in. The plates of food were quite large, with several types of sushi - almost a sampler platter. Aziraphale daintily selected an unimake with his chopsticks, dipped it in sauce, and began to eat.

“Mmm,” he fairly purred, closing his eyes to savor the deliciousness. “That’s scrummy.”

Crowley looked a bit gobsmacked when he opened his eyes, but the look was gone almost before Aziraphale could categorize it. Perhaps he’d imagined it.

“So,” Crowley said, selecting his first bite. “I looked up your IMDB.”

“Oh?”

“Mmm. You’ve been in quite a lot. I don’t know how we’ve never run across each other.”

“Well, probably because we do such different roles and films. You tend to get cast as the James Bond type, while I get ‘stuffy British man’ for nearly every role - and second billing, at best.”

“Until now,” Crowley said with a smile. “‘Tadfield’ is creating quite the buzz, and you’re in the lead. Looks like you’ve got a hit on your hands, angel.”

Aziraphale flushed a little from the endearment and the praise. “We’ll have to see about that. I’m hesitant to put any eggs in the basket of ‘industry buzz’. Seems a waste to get my hopes up only to have them dashed.”

“Seems wise,” Crowley agreed.

“How about you? What are you working on?”

“I just wrapped filming on a thriller, ‘Sigil’. Hopefully it’ll help to get me out of the rut I’ve been in for the last couple of years.”

“Oh, dear, I hope so, too. When is it slated for release?”

“Next April.”

“Well, I shall certainly look for it next spring, then,” Aziraphale commented with a smile. In truth, he was not a fan of scary films - in his opinion, the world was scary enough on its own - but to see Crowley on the big screen, he’d make an exception. Maybe he’d use that low, gravelly voice he’d used on the parking attendant. That would be worth the price of admission on its own.

Aziraphale cleared his throat lightly and picked up another roll. “What are you doing next? Have you got any projects lined up?”

“I’m attached to an action/comedy that’s scheduled to start filming in November, but nothing until then, save for a few guest appearances here and there. Other than that, my schedule is depressingly free for the next couple of months - except, of course, for being a new A-lister’s bloke.”

He felt himself glowing and couldn’t help a little smile. But that was okay, wasn’t it? They were meant to be on a first date, after all. His reaction was perfectly in character.

Crowley didn’t seem to need him to answer. He picked up a roll from his own plate and said, “How about you? What’s on your calendar?”

“I’m expected to do a press tour for ‘Tadfield’ in about five or six weeks. Lots of chat show appearances, but most of them will be here in LA. I will have to go to New York for a few days, and to London. I’m rather looking forward to that, of course, and managed to schedule London to be the last stop on the press tour, so I can spend a couple of weeks at home.”

“Yes, London is always nice in the autumn.”

“Indeed.”

“Perhaps I could join you in London while you’re there. Take you for that ride in my Bentley.”

Aziraphale gave him a teasing grin. “Do you drive any better in London than you do in LA?”

Crowley grinned mischievously and winked. “Even better.”

He fought down a giggle. Terrifying though it would likely be to ride with him, it would be fun to spend time with Crowley in London. And as he’d noted on Wednesday, that would further fuel speculation about their relationship. Wasn’t that the whole point?

“What about after that?” Crowley asked. “Any projects lined up?”

Aziraphale shook his head. “Not a thing as of yet. Gabriel… Messenger. My manager, you met him.”

“Yes.”

“He seems to think the roles will just be pouring in after ‘Tadfield’ is released, so he’s left me largely open. It’s a bit nerve wracking, as an actor, to not have my next role lined up, but I just have to trust his judgement, I suppose. Like about… us.”

Something crossed Crowley’s face that Aziraphale didn’t understand, and the other man dropped his gaze. “Right, of course.”

There was a beat of awkward silence, broken by the waitress bringing another bottle of sake to the table. Aziraphale thanked her kindly while Crowley refilled their cups.

“Do you do this often?” Aziraphale asked, unsure of what else to say.

Crowley gave him that lopsided grin again, but it was missing something, some spark. “Do I get set up in fake relationships a lot?”

“Er, no,” he said, embarrassed that he’d forgotten himself for a moment. “I meant, do you date much?”

“No, not really. I’m not much of the serious relationship type. Not historically, anyway.”

“Ah.” Disappointment he really shouldn’t feel rose up within him.

“It’s not an unwillingness on my part to settle down, as it were,” Crowley was explaining in a bit of a hurry. “I just haven’t met anyone I want to share my life with. No one who’s ever wanted me for me, and not what I could do for them. I haven’t met anyone like that for quite a while - since I started to make a name for myself.”

Aziraphale nodded. “I understand. It must be difficult to make those kinds of connections when you’re a star. Hard to discern who wants something from you and who’s genuine, I imagine.”

“It - yeah. That’s a good assessment.” Crowley took another bite, then asked, “How about you? Do you date much?”

“Me? Oh, no, not me. Most people who look at me don’t think ‘love interest’ - and that’s alright. I have my books. But no, I’m no heartthrob.”

Crowley was giving him an odd look again, but as before, it was gone almost as quickly as it had appeared.

Aziraphale went on. “My last real date was about… four years ago. We went to dinner but there wasn’t much spark, so we didn’t see each other again. Before that, it had been about three years, I think. Before that, I was in London.”

“You must have been so lonely,” Crowley remarked softly, as if the thought had just slipped out.

Aziraphale shook his head in denial. “Not terribly. Work has kept me busy for the last several years, which has been nice. And for those times I’m not at work, well, I have my books. It’s not bad.”

Crowley seemed to be considering this. “Well, now you have companionship,” he finally said with a smile.

He smiled in return. “Yes, for the next three months, at least.”

That same expression crossed over Crowley’s face, almost like a cloud blocking the sun for a moment, then it was gone. “Yes. For three months.”

They ate silently for a minute, while Aziraphale tried to figure out what he’d said wrong. Then it hit him: Crowley was a method actor, throwing himself into the role. Aziraphale remarking on the actual nature of their relationship was taking him out of the scene. It was terribly inconsiderate to do that to an actor, and Aziraphale resolved to go along with him. He could act in love. It honestly wouldn’t be a hardship at all.

“Speaking of the next three months, have you seen the schedule they made for us?”

“I have,” he confirmed. “It seems carefully constructed to make us visible and get people talking about us.”

“I imagine it is exactly that.”

“There seem to be several parties on there,” Aziraphale remarked uneasily. “Beginning next week.”

Crowley caught the apprehension in his voice. “Is that a problem?”

“No, no. I just… don’t go to many parties. Bit of a wallflower, I’m afraid.”

“I’ll be with you, angel,” Crowley said in that soft voice he had, and Aziraphale felt a rush of tenderness. “You won’t be alone, and I’ll do my best to help you have a good time.”

“Thank you, dear. That does help to set my mind at ease.”

“Besides, we don’t have to do what they’ve scheduled all the time. We can do pretty much anything. Whatever you’d like.”

“That’s very kind of you.”

“So you said your last date, there wasn’t a spark?” Crowley asked after a while, still looking at his food.

“Yes?”

He looked up then. “What about this date?”

Aziraphale swallowed hard, blinking up at Crowley. He certainly felt something, but whatever he felt wasn’t real. This was all a sham. Yet he couldn’t say so and pull Crowley out of character.

“I… I think this date is entirely different,” he admitted. “There certainly seems to be something there.”

Crowley’s face shone. “I’m very, very glad to hear that. Say, angel, what would you say to a bit of a stroll after dinner?”

“A stroll?”

“Yes. There are lots of curious little shops in this neighborhood. They might be fun to look into. There may even be a bookshop you’d like.”

“Do you think so?”

“Possibly. We could walk off some of this dinner, then find ourselves a little bakery and get dessert. My treat.”

“Well, I suppose so…”

“And I’ve had a bit much of the sake to be driving just yet.”

“Hmm. Fair point,” Aziraphale said as if he were considering and not internally jumping for joy at the idea of more time with Crowley. “Well, that settles it. A stroll sounds like just the thing.”

“Excellent,” Crowley said with a big smile, then waved over the waitress to settle the check.

Chapter Text

Madame Tracy’s Star Watch - August 24,2019 (excerpt)
A little birdie told me that a certain ginger-haired actor with the initials AJC (you know who I mean) was spotted on a date with an up-and-coming actor, whose last name rhymes with “bell”. The two were introduced at a house party this past week and according to my source, sparks flew instantly. Should be interesting to watch…

~*~O~*~

August 25, 2019

The lights went up in the theatre when the credits rolled, and Aziraphale simultaneously tensed and relaxed. The film had been quite good, but he’d been unable to relax and immerse himself in it the way he normally would with Crowley sitting next to him in the dark. He’d been going to see films alone for so long that having anyone with him would have been slightly nerve-wracking, but moreso Crowley, considering the attraction he was trying hard to deny… and the way the red-haired man had sprawled in his seat, his knee dangerously close to Aziraphale’s thigh. In fact, if Aziraphale moved his legs even a little, they touched, and he felt the reverberations all through his body. That certainly wouldn’t do (and was really quite alarming), so Aziraphale had kept his body tight and rigid throughout the film, sitting very properly. That wasn’t terribly unusual for him - he was always a rather prim person, he supposed - but the reason for his stiffness was much different today.

“Ready, angel?” Crowley asked a moment later, his sunglasses already back on his face. Aziraphale lamented privately that he’d missed the chance to see Crowley’s eyes yet again.

“Yes, of course. I shouldn’t dawdle,” he said with a small smile, getting to his feet.

“You’re not dawdling, you’re fine,” Crowley reassured him. Nevertheless, Aziraphale shuffled out of the row of seats quickly and into the aisle.

Once they were outside, Aziraphale wished for a pair of sunglasses, himself. He squinted against the bright, southern California sunshine until his eyes adjusted, a hand shielding his eyes.

“Where to?” Crowley asked. “I know it’s early, but would you care for dinner? Or perhaps just dessert?”

“An early dinner sounds nice. Do you have a place in mind?”

Crowley gestured down the block. “There’s a bistro just down the way, if you’d care to go.”

“Lead the way,” Aziraphale replied with a smile.

They chatted lightly about nothing as they walked to the bistro Crowley had suggested, mostly small talk about the film they’d just watched. It was nice being able to talk to someone else in the industry, who knew the jargon and lingo as well as Aziraphale did himself, if not better. Talking to Crowley about anything was fairly easy, he had noticed, and the idea was a little alarming. He shouldn't be this comfortable with someone he'd only just met recently - and certainly not someone who was only pretending to like him.

Crowley seemed to know the hostess at the bistro, and Aziraphale felt a ludicrous stab of jealousy before he chastised himself for it. Crowley could see whomever he wanted - he didn’t belong to Aziraphale in any way, shape, or form. He needed to get himself together. Still, the pretty brunette’s doe eyes up at Crowley rubbed Aziraphale wrong.

They were seated a few moments later, and although he knew they were meant to be seen together, he was grateful to be somewhat out of the way. Once they were settled - after Crowley pulled his chair out politely and waited for him to be seated - they pulled out the menu and started to peruse.

“What’s good here? I’ve never been.”

“I’ve never had anything that wasn’t good,” Crowley said, “so it really depends on what type of mood you’re in.”

“Hmm. Something light, I should think.”

“In that case, try the braised salmon with rice.”

Aziraphale gave him a warm, genuine smile. “Thank you, dear.”

The waiter appeared and took their orders, and the table lapsed into quiet for a minute while they sipped their waters. It wasn’t uncomfortable, but Aziraphale still felt compelled to fill it.

“What’s your least favorite part of the job?”

Crowley looked a little surprised. “Where did that come from?”

Aziraphale felt his cheeks heating. “Just a question. I thought maybe it would help spark a conversation.”

One corner of Crowley’s lip quirked. “Am I such a poor conversationalist that you feel compelled to prod me along?”

“Oh!” Aziraphale gasped, “Certainly not! I very much enjoy talking with you, I do hope you know. I never meant --”

“Relax, angel,” Crowley said, lounging in his chair more comfortably, the grin on his face wide and mischievous. “I’m only teasing you. Does no one ever tease you?”

“Er, no. Not really,” he admitted.

The look on Crowley’s face changed. “Does it bother you that I like to tease? I’ll stop if you like.”

“No, no,” Aziraphale assured him. “No need for that. Just be patient with me being slow on the uptake sometimes - and maybe don’t tease maliciously.”

Crowley was back to giving that lopsided smirk that made Aziraphale’s belly feel funny. “I’d never,” he promised in a low voice, then shifted in his seat to get more comfortable. “To answer your question, I hate how fucking fake everyone is. Everyone is only out to further their own agendas or careers and no one cares about you, you know? I thought it was bad when I first came to Hollywood - and it was - but it got much worse when I became a star. Nobody’s genuine. Nearly everyone’s a phony. It was a hard lesson to learn, but a valuable one. I don’t trust anyone now - well, I trust very few people, and tend not to open up to many.”

Aziraphale found himself wanting to protest Crowley’s assertion about nobody being genuine. He rather thought he was genuine, and found that he very much wanted to be one of the people Crowley opened up to. But this was all a sham, he reminded himself, and Crowley was simply playing a part. There was no reason for him to open up, and expecting him to was foolish. If this were a real relationship, that might be something he’d hope for, but as it was…

He fought the urge to sigh.

“That’s a bit of free advice, angel,” Crowley was saying, wagging a spoon at him. “Seeing as how you’re on the cusp of real celebrity. Keep those you trust close, and don’t let them go. Take everyone else’s word with a boulder of salt.”

“I will,” he agreed absently.

They were distracted from conversation when the food arrived, and both tucked in for a few moments. Before long, Crowley was swallowing a bite of his risotto and giving him a questioning look.

“How about you?”

“Hmm?”

“What do you hate about this business?”

“Oh. Well, it’s nothing as deep and profound as what you said…”

Crowley was grinning. “Go on, then. What is it?”

“Well, I do rather hate photo shoots.”

“God, yeah, they’re the fucking worst.”

Aziraphale nodded emphatically. “I’m always trussed up in some clothes that aren’t me and posed this way and that - I feel like a performing monkey, and not an actor.”

“You said it,” the other man heartily concurred. “And every time some photographer tells me he just wants me to relax and have fun, I have to fight the urge to fucking strangle him with his camera strap.”

“Yes!” Aziraphale laughed. “Oh, I’m so glad you agree. I do rather dread the upcoming spate of photoshoots and interviews I’ll have to do for ‘Tadfield’. I’m not sure which I’m dreading more, honestly.”

“You don’t like interviews?”

“Oh, heavens, no. I always feel terribly awkward and after every one, I look back and think of five things I should have said differently - or shouldn’t have said at all. Honestly, I work so much better with a script.”

“I think we all do. But you’d best start getting used to the interviews - you’re the star of what by all accounts is going to be a blockbuster.”

“Well, I suppose I’ll just have to have a glass of wine before each appearance to calm my nerves," he joked. "What do you think?”

Crowley chuckled. “I”ll be there to toast you before you go on stage and reassure you it wasn’t as bad as you think when you come off.”

Aziraphale clammed up a bit at that. They would indeed still be dating during this press tour, and it was possible that they’d see each other before and after some of his interviews. How lovely it would be to feel he had someone in his corner, supporting him! He’d never had that before - well, not in many, many years - and was quite looking forward to it. But this was all for show, and it was vital he remember that. Crowley was simply immersing himself in the role of ‘A.Z. Fell’s boyfriend’, and none of it meant anything.

“I think that will be lovely, dear,” he said finally.

~*~O~*~

August 28, 2019

Aziraphale knew it was quite disloyal of him as an Englishman, but he’d never really seen the appeal of football. In his younger years, he’d been roped into playing often enough, although he’d never exactly been athletic. That hadn’t mattered to his school mates, who had recruited him at least once a week to join their games. As a result, he had a decent understanding of the sport, but he didn’t care for it all that much. He could take it or leave it, honestly, and had wondered just how on earth the idea of he and Crowley going to a match had been decided.

That was a bit more clear when he saw Crowley in fan-mode. He clearly loved the sport, and Aziraphale very much enjoyed watching him have fun. He’d only ever seen Crowley calm, cool, and collected before they arrived at the stadium, and he suspected he’d only ever see him that way outside of the stadium. But for now, Crowley was a cheering madman, and Aziraphale loved it.

“Red card, ref! Red card! Send his arse off!” Crowley shouted, gesturing wildly.

Aziraphale grinned to himself as he watched his new… friend. It was nice to see him enjoying himself so thoroughly. He did his best to get into the spirit of the thing, himself, but he felt awkward and stilted, so finally he just resolved himself to being a quiet observer.

When the game ended and Crowley had returned to his normal, cool self, they made their way to valet parking to pick up his car to go home.

“This was fun!” Aziraphale said with a smile.

Crowley gave him a look. “You don’t have to say that.”

“Why wouldn’t I?”

“Because you were bored to tears.”

“I wasn’t.” At Crowley’s disbelieving look, he insisted. “Honestly, I wasn’t.”

“We don’t have to come back.”

“We can come back anytime you fancy. Really, Crowley. It was jolly good fun.”

Crowley’s smile was unsure. “Yeah?”

“Absolutely. I had a lovely time.”

The red haired man looked pleased when he gave the ticket to the attendant.

“You seem to really love the sport.”

“I do. Football was my life as a kid. It kept me out of trouble - which was entirely too easy to get into in my part of town. Gangs were everywhere, and it was hard to avoid them. My mother encouraged me to play as much as I could, and I did, right up until I got hurt when I was fourteen.”

“Oh, no. What happened?”

Crowley shrugged. “Just took a bad hit. It left my knee a little worse for wear, so my dreams of being a footballer died. I moped around for a few weeks until my mother shoved me towards the doors of the local community theatre. Said if I was going to keep being so dramatic, I should do it for an audience.” He laughed. “I got bit by the acting bug that first day and never looked back.”

“Your parents must have been very pleased.”

“Parent, singular. My dad was never in the picture.”

“Oh. I’m terribly sorry.”

Crowley shrugged. “Don’t be. Mum and I did fine without him.”

“Well, I’m sure she must be very proud of her son, and pleased with her decision to push you towards the theatre. Look how well you’ve turned out!”

He smiled gently. “I think she was, yeah. She passed on a few years ago, but I’d made it by then. She got to see her baby boy on a billboard before she died, and I’d won a couple of awards. She was always my date.”

Aziraphale had tears in his eyes. “I’m so sorry to hear that she’s passed, but it’s simply lovely that she got to see your success before she did. I’m terribly sorry for your loss. I lost my parents, too.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. How?”

“Car crash. They were hit by a careless driver on the M25.”

“Whoever designed the M25 must be the spawn of hell,” Crowley said, and Aziraphale smiled a little at the odd attempt at comfort. “I’m sorry you lost your parents. Were you young?”

“It was the year after I finished drama school, so nearly twenty years ago, now.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be, dear. It’s just a part of life. I would have lost them at some point, eventually.”

Just then, the valet pulled up with Crowley’s black Aston Martin. As he always did, Crowley opened the door for Aziraphale and waited patiently for him to get inside before he shut the door. Then he came around and flopped into the driver’s seat, and they pulled off. Aziraphale was thrilled when Crowley seemed to be driving more cautiously.

“So what’s next on our agenda?” he asked after a couple of quiet minutes.

“You mean tonight, or…?”

“No. Well, yes, that too, but I was thinking of our next… our next date.”

“We’re to attend a party in Beverly Hills on Saturday night.”

Aziraphale felt himself tense. “Right.”

Crowley gave him a sideways look. “You don’t like parties?”

“Not when I don’t know anyone there,” he said - a half truth.

“You’ll know me, angel.”

He gave Crowley a smile. “Yes, I’ll know you. I must ask you to please bear with me if… if I seem a bit less… gregarious in such a setting. I promise, it’s nothing to do with you.”

“Alright, as long as you’ll promise to let me know when you need to leave. We’ll cut and run at one word from you, alright? It only matters that we make an appearance, anyway. We don’t have to stay.”

“I’ll let you know,” Aziraphale said, smiling again, and fought the ridiculous urge to cover Crowley’s hand resting on the gearshift with his own. He cleared his throat and looked away quickly, before he could do something foolish.

“What about tonight?” Crowley asked, oblivious to what a fool Aziraphale had almost made of himself. “Could I interest you in a nightcap? I know a quiet little place we can get a drink and chat a bit more, if you’d like. Unwind from that game and relax a bit.”

“I think that sounds lovely,” Aziraphale said honestly, with a smile. More time with Crowley? Yes please. “Let’s do that.”

Chapter Text

August 31, 2019

They had been on several dates in the last week, and Crowley had enjoyed each one more than the one before. Aziraphale was slowly coming out of his shell around Crowley and relaxing bit by bit. They’d talked for hours while together, and had taken to texting each other frequently, too. Crowley was unsurprised to learn that while he texted in all lower case letters and frequently used abbreviations and slang, Aziraphale texted with perfect spelling, punctuation, and grammar. It should have been annoying, it should have made him seem stuffy, but Crowley was simply endeared by it.

Over the preceding week, he’d learned quite a bit about his fake boyfriend. He’d learned that Aziraphale’s parents had died tragically - which had prompted him to slow down and drive more cautiously while he had Aziraphale in the car. He’d learned that Aziraphale’s dearest ambition, acting wise, was to play Hamlet for the RSC in London. (Crowley didn’t share that ambition, although he did want to perform for the RSC - he wanted to play Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing. He’d always preferred Shakespeare’s funny ones.)

He learned that Aziraphale had a hedonistic streak, particularly when it came to food, and had quite the sweet tooth. Once Crowley had realized that, he went out of his way to make sure they got dessert whenever they were together after meals. The nearly erotic sounds Aziraphale made and the look of absolute bliss every time he took a bite were their own reward - and worth every penny he spent.

So far, he’d enjoyed every second he’d spent with Aziraphale, and always found himself eagerly anticipating their next date. He’d taken to texting him randomly, just because. He’d even begun to try to think of places to take him on their own, dates that weren’t arranged by fucking Beezle and Gabriel. He couldn’t think of much, other than stuffing Aziraphale full of food and dessert. That idea had scads of merit.

There had been a couple of mentions of them in the press, on TMZ and a blog or two. The mentions had been short, only a couple of sentences stating that he and Aziraphale had been spotted together several times over the last week or so and seemed ‘close’. Beezle was thrilled, and had been even more thrilled when an image showed up earlier that day on the internet of the two of them in a park, buying ice cream from a vendor after their early dinner a few days ago. He’d been smiling at Aziraphale, pleased as punch just to be with him, and Aziraphale had been smiling back. They had looked very much like a new couple, and Beezle had been happier than he’d ever seen them.

He had to admit, looking at the photograph made him happy, too. As much as he hated the paps, he was looking forward to there being more photos of him with Aziraphale.

In the time he hadn’t been with Aziraphale over the last week, he’d watched several of his films and TV shows. Aziraphale had been right: thus far, he’d been most frequently cast as a stuffy British man, although there was some variety to the parts. He’d played a doctor, an executive, and even an American politician. Crowley had rather enjoyed that one, and his American accent had been superb. All of his performances had been mesmerising, and Crowley had been glued to his screen.

He’d had dark hair in several of his roles, and while Crowley thought he was terribly handsome with the darker hair (and especially the scruffy beard he’d sported in one of his roles, as a therapist with his own troubles), he rather thought he preferred the white-blond curls that were natural to him. They added to Crowley’s belief that Aziraphale Fell really was an angel, sent to earth to bless the world with his presence.

Bloody hell, he needed to get a hold on his own thought processes. It was entirely too early to be so smitten with someone - especially someone he was supposed to be in a fake relationship with. Catching feelings could ruin everything… but Crowley rather thought it was a bit late for that. Ten days around Aziraphale and he was already a goner.

Fucking hell, he swore to himself, then shook it off. He could deal with how he felt later - and what to do about it. For now he needed to get ready.

Tonight was their first public appearance where they’d be expected to mingle, and Crowley was excited but slightly nervous. Excited because how could he not be, with an angel on his arm? Despite how unassuming Aziraphale seemed at first, he had quickly become the most gorgeous bloke Crowley had ever seen... and he was Crowley’s date for the next few months. Unbelievable.

But he was slightly nervous because he knew Aziraphale was a bit shy of parties. The party tonight was a fairly small gathering of only about fifty to seventy-five people in Beverly Hills, and he didn’t expect it to be all that wild. He doubted anyone would get too out of hand. If they did, Crowley could simply get Aziraphale out of there. He couldn’t explain why, but he didn’t want to expose Aziraphale to the seedier side of Hollywood anymore than he had to be. Aziraphale had a purity to him that Crowley felt this odd compulsion to protect.

He arrived at Aziraphale’s apartment a few minutes before he was scheduled, and took a moment to check his reflection in the Aston Martin’s mirror. He still looked fine, he supposed, so he grabbed the box he’d brought for Aziraphale and went into the building, over to the elevator, and pressed the button for the thirteenth floor.

A minute later, he was at Aziraphale’s door, ringing the bell and affecting what he hoped was a sexy pose, slouching a little, one hip cocked.

There was a little scuffle on the other side of the door, the snick of a lock being turned, and the door opened to reveal Crowley’s date, smiling happily and looking good enough to eat - even in his old fashioned clothes.

“Hi,” he drawled.

“Crowley. How lovely to see you. Do come in, please. I’m nearly ready.”

Crowley stepped into the lounge, glancing around. As always, he gave a little smile at the piles of books and knickknacks lying around, taking it all in fondly. It might have been off-putting in anyone else’s home, but it was just so… Aziraphale.

“Got you something,” he said with a smile.

Aziraphale glanced up with wide eyes. “Something for me?”

Crowley held out the box. “Go on, open it.”

He took the box over to the couch and placed it on the coffee table, sitting gingerly, as if unsure what to do with a gift. Crowley stepped more fully into the room and leaned against the back of a chair hoping against hope his nerves wouldn’t show.

Aziraphale pulled the string on the box, untying it, then lifted the lid. “Oh!” he said in a surprised and (Crowley hoped) delighted voice. “It’s cake!”

“It’s from the best bakery in Malibu, or so I’m told. I asked around, and this place got rave reviews, so I picked you up a slice on the way over. I had no idea what kind you’d like - they must have had fifty fucking flavors - so I just went with chocolate. Figured everybody likes chocolate, right?”

“Oh, it looks simply scrumptious! And this gives me something to look forward to, after the party. Will you share it with me when we get back? Oh, do say you will.”

Crowley’s mind reeled. He’d just been invited to come up to Aziraphale’s apartment after the party? Holy shit.

Once he was able to form rational thoughts, he said, “No, yeah, I’d love to. Sure.”

“Wonderful! Just let me put this in the fridge and I’ll be ready to go.”

Aziraphale bustled through the door into the kitchen, leaving Crowley alone with his thoughts. He’d been invited back to the flat to share dessert after the party! He could have danced a jig. Extra time with Aziraphale - and with no cameras around! It would just be them! He resolved to bring a treat of some sort at least once a week from here on out.

“Are you ready?” Aziraphale asked when he reappeared a minute later, and Crowley didn’t miss the slight anxiety in his voice.

“This is going to be alright, angel,” he said in as reassuring a voice as he could. “It’s not a big party, and you might even know some of the people there.”

“I’m sure I will,” Aziraphale assured him with a slight smile that didn’t reach his anxious eyes.

“I’ll be with you the whole time - well, as much as you want me to be there,” he backtracked.

“I’m sure that will make me feel much better,” Aziraphale smiled warmly, and Crowley felt something inside him squirm pleasantly. “I’ll just say I’m looking forward to getting back home and eating my cake.”

Crowley laughed. “Me, too. Shall we?”

“Yes, let’s.”

~*~O~*~

The party was in Beverly Hills at the home of Sandalphon Engel, a movie executive Crowley wasn’t especially fond of. He had a reputation as something of an enforcer, and Crowley had no use for men who attempted to be big and bad. But their appearance at this party had been arranged by Aziraphale’s dickhole manager, Gabriel Messenger, and he couldn’t think of a legitimate reason to get them out of it. He and Aziraphale had both been warned that there would be a gossip columnist there, so they were to act like a new couple. Crowley had resolved to himself very early on that he wouldn’t push Aziraphale into any public displays he wasn’t comfortable with, and he was determined to stick to that. He wanted desperately to touch Aziraphale, his skin seemed to hunger for the feel of the other man’s soft skin, but he was unwilling to push him. The most he was willing to do right now was put his hand on the small of Aziraphale’s back to guide him - and he wanted to do that sparingly. It wouldn’t do to throw himself at Aziraphale and scare him off. So if the gossip columnist was expecting a show, she was likely to be disappointed - unless Aziraphale initiated contact, which seemed unlikely.

He allowed himself his first intentional touch when they arrived at the party, putting his hand on the small of Airaphale’s back, feeling the scratch of his wool jacket. It was unnecessary, really, but he felt a thrill from the contact just the same. To make it better, Aziraphale turned and flashed him a brilliant smile, giving him a quiet, ‘thank you, dear’. Crowley resolved to do it again as soon as the opportunity presented itself.

Once inside, he snagged a glass of wine for him and Aziraphale, enjoying the smile when he gave it to his date, then started mingling with Aziraphale by his side. He was surprised by how many introductions he had to make for people who didn’t know Aziraphale, but he just supposed the two of them had run in different circles in Hollywood for the last few years. Not that he minded showing his date off - quite the contrary. Crowley was unbelievably proud to be seen with Aziraphale, and smiled more than usual while they chatted with various actors, producers, and other people in the industry.

If Aziraphale was uncomfortable being a social butterfly (which Crowley knew him to be), he didn’t let on. He chatted brightly and earnestly with everyone they met, charming the socks off of them - and his date. Once his name entered the conversation, several people mentioned ‘Tadfield’ and commented that they’d been told to expect great things. Aziraphale didn’t seem to be affected, other than a pleased flush, but Crowley could see the subtle lines of tension on his face. When they appeared, he tried to steer the conversation in a different direction.

After they’d been there for about forty-five minutes, they were in conversation with each other when Aziraphale spotted someone over Crowley’s shoulder and brightened, his face lighting up and his hand coming up to wave. Crowley turned to see a vaguely familiar woman with long, brown hair, round glasses, and a flowy skirt. She was waving back to Aziraphale and smiling.

“Who is that?” he asked curiously.

“My friend Anathema. She’s a makeup artist, and my oldest friend in Los Angeles. Oh, do you mind if I go speak to her? I won’t be a minute.”

Crowley grinned. “Go ahead, angel. I don’t own you. You can do what you like. I’ll be milling about when you’re done, just come find me.”

Aziraphale gave his bicep a little squeeze, then dashed off towards his friend. Crowley watched him hug the witchy-looking woman, smiling delightedly, and then the two started chatting animatedly - more animated than he’d seen the blond all night. The smile on his face softened as he looked over at his date. Seeing Aziraphale happy made Crowley happy, and it was truly a unique feeling - one he’d never had before.

“Anthony J. Crowley,” came a female voice at his shoulder, “fancy seeing you here.”

He turned towards the voice and gave a tight smile. “Madame Tracy. How lovely to see you.”

“Oh, there’s no need for the Madame bit. That’s a pen name, you know that. I’m just Tracy to my old friends.”

Crowley just hummed. She called herself a ‘society journalist’, but he knew her to be just a glorified gossip columnist. Either way, he certainly didn’t consider her an old friend, but wasn’t about to argue.

She smiled sweetly. “So! You and A.Z. Fell, hmm?”

Crowley sighed internally. Confirming their ‘relationship’ would really get the rumor mill kicked into high gear - but wasn’t that the point of the whole thing?

“What about us?”

“Well,” Tracy started, tracing the rim of her wineglass in what she must have thought was an alluring way. “I’ve heard rumors, of course.”

“Rumors are your job,” Crowley pointed out.

”Yes, but it makes my job ever so much easier when those rumors are confirmed or denied. So, back to what I was asking - are the rumors true about you and A.Z. Fell?”

Crowley gritted his teeth subtly but smiled politely. “What are you hearing?”

“That you two are the hot new ‘it couple’,” Tracy replied simply.

“We’ve been on a few dates and we came here together. I hardly think that’s tabloid fodder.”

Everything you do is tabloid fodder, darling,” she simpered. “You made sure of that by never meeting a party you didn’t like and dating every costar you ever had.”

Crowley hadn’t exactly done that, the tabloids had always gotten it wrong, but there was no point arguing. Madame Tracy didn’t let him get a word in edgewise, anyway. “Is there anything else you’d like to tell me about your new relationship?”

Yeah, I’d like to tell you to fuck off, he thought - but of course, he didn’t say.

“Off the record?”

Something flashed across Tracy’s face, but she recovered quickly, smiling as if she’d love nothing more. “Of course.”

“It’s early days, but I like him very much. I’m hoping to keep seeing him for a long time to come.” It was the absolute truth, perhaps the most honest thing he’d ever said up to that moment.

“Can I quote you as a source close to the couple?” she asked, eyes alight with the knowledge she had what she considered to be a scoop.

“If you’d like,” Crowley allowed.

“Lovely. Thank you, Mr. Crowley.”

“My pleasure,” he lied, giving a nod as he watched Madame Tracy slip back into the crowd, confirmation and juicy quote obtained.

Once he was sure she was gone, he looked up to find Aziraphale, but he wasn't standing where he had been just a few moments before. His long-haired friend was also gone. Feeling a flash of worry, he started wandering through the crowd, looking for a curly, white-blond head, picking up two more glasses of wine along the way.

~*~O~*~

“Hi!” Anathema chirped when Aziraphale got close, holding out her arms for a hug he was only too happy to give.

“My dearest Anathema, you have no idea how delighted I am to see you.”

Anathema pulled back, a questioning look on her piquant, expressive face. Her forehead creased and eyebrows knitted behind her round glasses. “What’s wrong?”

Aziraphale sighed. He forgot sometimes just how perceptive she was.

“Nothing’s wrong, really,” he denied. “You just know how I hate parties like this, and it’s lovely to see a friendly face.”

Anathema Device was one of Aziraphale’s few true friends in Los Angeles, and had been since shortly after his arrival. She was a makeup artist, and the two had bonded when he’d spent many long mornings in her chair, being made up to look older than his years to play a part. She had a certain wisdom about her, Aziraphale had found, and he very much enjoyed spending those mornings in her chair, soaking her up. Some of her ideas were a bit… out there, but Aziraphale didn’t mind. It just made her more colorful in his eyes, and he loved color.

After the film had wrapped, they’d stayed in touch, and had grown closer over the years. Anathema was the closest thing he had to a confidant here in LA, and he treasured her more than he could ever say.

Anathema was looking over her shoulder, presumably towards Crowley. “Seems you came with a friendly face. Anthony J. Crowley, Aziraphale? Oh my god! How on earth did you ever land him? He’s got such a reputation.”

“It’s a long story,” he hedged.

She gave him a look, narrowing her wise eyes. “I’ve got time. Spill.”

Oh, dear. If there was anyone in the world he trusted with the truth of his relationship to Crowley, it was Anathema, but in the middle of a crowd at a party was no place to tell his secret.

“I’ll tell you everything, I promise, but there are too many people milling about here. Lunch this week?”

“Your turn to buy,” she answered with a smile, then the concern passed over her face again. “Are you sure everything’s alright?”

“Yes, of course! Everything is tickety boo. Just… the circumstances of our coming together warrant a bit more time to explain.”

“Are you happy to be with him, though?”

Aziraphale felt a sudden warmth, thinking that, for the next couple of months, he’d be able to call Crowley ‘his’. It might not be entirely real, but it was more than he’d ever dare hope for. The smile he gave Anathema was genuine.

“He’s been wonderful so far and I adore him,” he answered, giving her the absolute truth. “I’ve seen no evidence that his reputation is anything but smoke and mirrors.”

“Good,” Anathema smiled in return. “Are you trying to keep things quiet, though? Because the woman he’s talking to is Madame Tracy, the gossip columnist.”

Aziraphale turned around to spot Crowley in conversation with a copper haired woman in flashy clothes. He was familiar with Madame Tracy’s column, of course, everyone in Hollywood was. He’d always been happy to escape her gossipy pen. But seeing Crowley talking to her reminded him forcefully that what they were doing was a sham, a fraud, and the knowledge stabbed at his heart.

“No,” he answered, somewhat sadly. “We’re not trying to keep it quiet.”

“Oh, shoot,” Anathema said, looking over Aziraphale’s shoulder and waving. “Newt is calling me. I should probably…”

“Absolutely, dear. I’ll ring you one day this week for lunch, how’s that?”

“Perfect.” She leaned over and gave him a quick hug. “Do your best to try and enjoy the party, and I’ll see you for lunch, yeah?”

“Of course, dear.”

They kissed each other’s cheek and Anathema took her leave, leaving Aziraphale alone in the crowd. Deciding he needed some air, he made his way to the balcony and into the cool evening air.

Really, he shouldn’t have been so affected by seeing Crowley talking to the gossip columnist. He was simply doing what he was supposed to do to further this scheme. But seeing him with Madame Tracy had been a stark reminder that there even was a scheme, that they weren’t really in a relationship, that none of this was real.

Except for the attraction and pull Aziraphale felt. That was very, very real.

“There you are!” he heard behind him a few moments later, and he turned to see Crowley swaggering out onto the balcony, his hips swaying in that way they had. He carried two glasses of wine and was smiling as if truly pleased to see Aziraphale. He only wished he could believe it.

“Here I am,” he answered weakly, with a small smile.

“I’ve been looking all over for you. Here. Brought you this,” he offered, giving Aziraphale the more full of the two glasses. He accepted gratefully, taking a sip. “Did something happen?” Crowley asked, his voice and face concerned.

“No, nothing like that. I just needed some air.”

“Mind if I join you?”

Aziraphale smiled a little easier. “Not at all.”

They turned to face the balcony rail, looking out over the city and, in the distance, the ocean. It was a stunning view, and Aziraphale sipped his wine absently.

“Gorgeous view,” Crowley said softly. “Don’t get views like this back home.”

Aziraphale chuckled. “No, you don’t. But London is beautiful in its own way.”

They lapsed into silence again, and Aziraphale wrestled with the question he wanted to ask until it finally burst out of him. “I saw you talking with Madame Tracy,” he started.

“Yeah. She asked me to confirm or deny our relationship.”

“What did you tell her?”

Crowley shrugged. “The truth, or most of it.”

Aziraphale wondered what that meant, but didn’t ask.

Instead, another question rose to his lips, loosened a bit by the wine.

“May I ask you something?”

“You can ask me anything, angel.”

“Will I ever get to see you without your glasses?”

Crowley looked surprised for a moment, then gave a little smile. “Gotta admit, I wasn’t expecting you to ask that.”

“Is that a problem?”

“No, not at all. I just wasn’t expecting it.”

“Can I see?” he pushed gently.

Crowley stood frozen for a moment, then set his wine glass down on the balcony’s edge. He reached up and slowly removed his sunglasses. Aziraphale watched breathlessly as he lowered the glasses, then raised his eyes to meet Aziraphale’s.

He gasped.

Crowley’s eyes were the lightest possible brown, almost yellow, and absolutely the most gorgeous sight Aziraphale had ever seen.

“They’re beautiful,” he breathed.

“You think so?” Crowley asked in a soft voice, sounding a bit vulnerable.

Aziraphale nodded earnestly. “They’re absolutely stunning. Why do you hide them?”

“Casting agents told me they were too unusual, they'd keep me from getting parts. Audiences wouldn’t like them, they said. So I sort of adopted the sunglasses as a way to hide them, then it sort of became my… thing. Whenever I have to show my eyes in a film, I either wear these brown contacts I have or they digitally alter them to be a different color.”

“Well, that’s a sin and a shame,” Aziraphale said with feeling. “Because this audience member loves them.”

The corner of Crowley’s mouth quirked up - he looked unsure, almost shy. “Yeah?”

“Absolutely. I should like to see them more often, in fact.”

“I think I can manage that,” Crowley grinned. “But for now, shouldn’t we get back to the party?”

Aziraphale sighed. “Do we have to? I was having such a nice time out here with you, chatting.”

Crowley slipped his glasses back on, much to Aziraphale’s regret, and it was a signal that their little interlude was done. “Fifteen minutes, angel. Let’s go in there and mingle for fifteen minutes, then we’ll cut out of here. And I won’t leave your side the whole time.”

It was Aziraphale’s turn to sound small and unsure. “Promise?”

He made an X across his chest. “Cross my heart. Give me fifteen minutes, then I’ll take you home to your books and your cake.”

Aziraphale laughed in spite of himself. “Alright, then. Let’s go.”

After all, fifteen minutes doing nearly anything was hardly a hardship - as long as Crowley was with him.

Chapter Text

Madame Tracy’s Star Watch - September 2, 2019 (excerpt)
Well, dear readers, this author has had the privilege of seeing Anthony J. Crowley and A.Z. Fell together at a party and can confirm that the rumors are true! One of Hollywood’s best-known bad boys seems to be smitten with the handsome but bookish Fell. Says a source close to the couple: “It’s early days, but they like each other immensely. They plan on staying together for a while.” Time will tell, of course, if Anthony J. Crowley will be able to calm his free-wheeling ways, but for the moment, the relationship looks to be very much a go…

~*~O~*~

September 6, 2019

Aziraphale fidgeted a little as he waited at the table on the patio of the cafe he and Anathema always met at when they had lunch together. It was a gorgeous, late-summer day, and the sun shone brightly down on him as he waited. It was warm, but not unpleasantly so, and he reflected again that while he loved his home in London and certainly missed it a great deal, he did rather prefer the weather in Southern California. Still, that wasn’t enough to make him want to stay indefinitely. LA may be where he hung his hat, so to speak, but London was home, and he really was excited to get back there soon. Hopefully, if everything went well, he’d be moving back permanently in the next couple of years.

Anathema breezed by on the pavement, giving him an airy wave, and Aziraphale waved and smiled in return. It would be lovely to chat for a while - ‘girl talk’, as Anathema cheekily called it - and Aziraphale was very much excited for the opportunity to catch up… even if he was a little nervous about the questions he knew would inevitably be asked.

A couple of minutes later, Anathema was shown to the table by a handsome host, the same one who had given Aziraphale the table, and he was amused to see the young man’s face change when the unassuming-at-first-glance Anathema turned her smile on him. She really was quite beautiful, inside and out, and Aziraphale hid his smile in his water.

When Anathema reached him, he got to his feet politely and they greeted each other with a little kiss to each cheek, then she took her seat. Aziraphale waited a moment, then sat. She took a second to settle her skirts around herself and smiled at Aziraphale.

“Hi!”

“Hello, dear,” he greeted warmly. “How are you?”

“Oh, just lovely. You?”

“Peachy keen. How’s Newt?”

Anathema launched into a recounting of her relationship with her boyfriend, Newt, who worked as an accountant for one of the studios in town. The poor dear was hapless when it came to any sort of technology, and could only manage to do sums on paper, but somehow, someone at the studio had had mercy on him and given him a job. Without the spectre of computers to destroy, he was doing rather well, Anathema said, and she rhapsodized about what a great boyfriend he was. Aziraphale was terribly pleased to hear it: as far as he was concerned, Anathema deserved the best of everything.

The waiter appeared to interrupt her talking, and they both placed their orders. Once he was gone, Anathema turned back to Aziraphale with an expectant look.

“Speaking of our love lives…”

Aziraphale flushed. “Really, dear…”

“What? It’s not like I’ve ever had anything to tease you about before.”

“That’s perfectly true.” And you really don’t have anything to tease me about now, he thought with a little frown.

“So? Tell me what’s going on.”

Aziraphale sighed. “You want to know how he and I came to be.”

“Among other things, yes.”

Well, here it was. The moment of truth - literally. He leaned forward in his seat and lowered his voice.

“First, I must have your most solemn vow that you won’t be revealing anything I’m about to tell you to anyone. It would be disastrous if this information got out, so to speak.”

Anathema’s eyes twinkled and she wiggled a little in her seat. “Color me intrigued. Go on.”

“No, really, dear. I must have your word to keep this a secret.”

Anathema pursed her lips. “You should know better than to think I’d betray a confidence by now, Aziraphale, but if you need reassurance, you have it. I won’t repeat a word.”

Aziraphale was relieved, but felt low, too. He’d never had any reason to doubt his friend. “I’m sorry,” he said, abashed. “I’m a bit paranoid, I suppose.”

“it’s quite alright. Now, will you just tell me what’s going on? I’m about to jump out of my seat with anticipation! How did you and Anthony J. Crowley come to be a couple? I’m dying to know.”

He took a deep breath, staring down at the salt shaker to gather his thoughts, his hands worrying each other.

“We were… arranged.”

“Arranged? You mean like a blind date?”

“No, not exactly. His manager and my manager got together and decided it would be a good idea for us to date. It’s all a fraud. We’re not really in a relationship.” The words stung, and he hated saying them, wishing the opposite were true.

Anathema didn’t speak for a long moment. “You mean… Gabriel told you who to date?”

“Yes. And we’re to be in a relationship for three months. Until the end of November. Thanksgiving weekend, actually.”

“But… he can’t do that!” she cried, outraged.

“No one’s forcing me, dear. And I assume no one is forcing Crowley, either.”

“Whose idea was this?”

“Not mine, I assure you. It was a scheme cooked up by Gabriel and Crowley’s manager, Beezle.”

“But… why? For what purpose?”

“Honestly, I don’t know how Crowley was talked into this. It seems he has no need to date someone as lowly on the social scale as me. I’m nobody’s idea of an exciting bloke.”

“Perhaps they’re trying to tame his ‘bad boy’ image,” she mused.

“Yes, I suppose that could be it. I honestly have no idea.”

“Well, what’s in it for you?”

“Publicity, mainly. Gabriel seems to think my turn in ‘Tadfield’ is going to catapult me to the top of the A-list, and he told me I was boring. He said the words ‘fuddy duddy’ had been applied to me frequently, and a torrid relationship with an established A-lister would help elevate the public’s perception of me. Make me a household name, as it were.”

Anathema shook her head. “In all the time I’ve known you, you’ve never wanted to be a household name.”

“No, not exactly. Every actor wants to be famous, of course, and well-known as skilled in his craft. I’m no different, but I’ve never longed for an outrageous amount of fame. Really, success is the better word. I wanted to make enough as an actor in LA to retire with my books and only act when the mood struck me. But Gabriel seems to think I should be aiming for worldwide fame and, well, if I’m more successful than I’d originally planned, that just means I get to retire sooner, right?” He gave a nervous little laugh that he only hoped would cover up his uncertainty about the whole plan.

Anathema wasn’t fooled, and was, in fact, giving him a shrewd look. “Call the whole thing off.”

“I can’t, dear.”

“Why not? There have only been a handful of mentions of the two of you in the press. It’s not too late. If you call it all off now, it will be forgotten by the end of the week. You don’t need to do this, Aziraphale.”

“I...I know that,” he admitted, his head down. He’d seen the mentions of them in the press and they’d both filled him with joy and something like dread. But there hadn’t been so many they couldn’t call the whole thing off now.

“Then why do it?”

Because it affords me the opportunity to pretend, even for a moment, that I’m not utterly alone.

He could never say that, of course. No matter how close he was with Anathema, he wasn’t prepared to bare his soul quite that way. So he said, “Well, I suppose part of me sees it as a challenge. A test of my skills as an actor, if you will. If I can convince the world that someone like Crowley should take an interest in me, I can convince anyone, yes? But I suppose there’s also the clandestine element to it. It feels terribly exciting, in a way. Like… like a secret agent!” he finished in an excited tone - but even in his own ears, the words rang hollow.

Anathema was clearly preparing to speak, but the waiter interrupted when he arrived with the food. Aziraphale dared to hope that the interruption would bring a change of subject, but he was to be disappointed when the waiter left the table and Anathema reached across the table to take his hand.

“Aziraphale, are you sure about this? It’s not like you, and I’m worried you’re going to be hurt.”

He gave a careless laugh that he hoped covered the depth of his own concern about the same thing. “You don’t have to worry about me, dear girl. I’m old --”

“You’re not!”

“-- Or at the very least, not naive. I know better than to get my feelings involved.” There. That was true. “This is just work. That’s all. Nothing more to it.” And that was a lie.

“But you said the other night that you adored him and he was wonderful.”

“That’s true,” he admitted, feeling wretched inside. “He is wonderful and I do adore him. But I’m being smart about this. Honestly.”

Anathema looked as if she absolutely was not buying what Aziraphale was selling, so he gave her his best reassuring smile.

“Alright,” she finally conceded, picking up her fork and starting on her salad. “If you insist.”

“I do insist. It’s all going to be rather lovely. You’ll see.”

Even as Aziraphale said the words, he had a vision of himself in three months’ time, slouched on Anathema’s couch, crumpled tissues all around while he sobbed out his broken heart into her shoulder.

He swallowed hard, smiling bravely against the premonition, and picked up his own fork, a weight settling in his chest.

~*~O~*~

September 9, 2019

Crowley sighed when he saw the name that had popped up on the phone as it rang. Beezle. Fuck. He didn’t want to pollute the day with that arsehole. He rarely ever had any inclination to talk to his manager, and even less so lately. But it was entirely possible that they wanted something important, and if he didn’t answer, they’d just keep calling over and over until he gave in and picked up, so he stabbed the green button on his screen to answer.

“Yeah,” he said by way of greeting.

“Where are you?”

“In my car.”

“Going where?”

“On my way to the biweekly meeting of the national confederation of it’s none of your fucking business, Beezle. Now what do you want?”

“Alright, alright. No need to get tetchy.”

“Too late. What do you want?” he repeated.

“Want to talk to you about Fell.”

Crowley ground his teeth. “What about him?”

“It’s been over two weeks, and we’ve seen minimal results.”

“You have, too! We’ve been spotted together multiple times, and there have been several mentions of us in gossip columns. We go out at least twice a week, more often three times. You’re getting just what the fuck you wanted.”

“What we wanted was a torrid romance. The two of you look like work mates!”

“I don’t really think Azir- er, Fell is the torrid romance type,” Crowley hedged.

“Come off it, Crowley. Everyone dreams of being swept off their feet, and more than that, people love reading about romances like that.”

His hands clenched on the wheel. “So what are you suggesting?”

“I’m not suggesting anything. I’m bloody well telling you to step it up a notch. You’ve been seen together and that’s all well and good, but we need more than you just being seen together. Hold his hand. Kiss him. Be more like a couple in love.”

“If I’m going to do this, Beezle, I’m going to do it on my own fucking terms. No one else’s,” he growled.

“You’ll do what you’re told,” Beezle fairly spat, and Crowley could almost see them clenching their jaw. “You’re free to do whatever you want, of course, but the smart thing to do - the thing that will advance your career and not get you fired - is to romance Fell at every opportunity. You’ve played a romantic lead before, more than once. I know you know how.”

“I have to go,” Crowley answered, utterly disgusted by the conversation and Beezle and the whole damn thing as he pulled into the parking lot of his destination.

“Remember what I said,” Beezle warned darkly.

“I’ll take it under advisement,” was all he said, then offered a curt ‘ciao’ and pressed the red button to end the call before they could get another word in.

Beezle’s advice was still ringing in his ears six minutes later when Mary Hodges, a former nun who had followed a calling into counseling, called his name and beckoned him to follow her into her office. Mary had been his therapist for six years now, and she was likely the only person on the entire continent that he trusted completely. God knew Crowley didn’t invite many close friendships, and in some ways, Mary was all he had. She was all he needed, really - at least, he’d thought so. But now, since he’d met Aziraphale and had started ‘dating’ him…

He followed her into her office gratefully. He had a lot to unload this time.

“Master Crowley, it’s good to see you,” she said, taking her customary seat across from the couch, where he sprawled inelegantly. “How’ve you been over the last month?”

“That’s a loaded question,” he muttered.

Mary Hodges raised an eyebrow. “What’s happened?”

Crowley sighed and lifted his sunglasses high enough to rub his eyes. Where should he even begin? Finally, he decided.

“A couple of weeks ago, Beezle called me into their office. I thought it would just be a standard your-popularity-is-waning-we-have-to-do-something pep talk, but no, not this time. This time, they had a plan.”

“What was it?”

“They told me they’d made arrangements for me to be in a fake relationship with another actor - A.Z. Fell. Ever heard of him?”

“The name rings a bell, but I can’t place the face.”

“Not at all important right now,” Crowley said with a dismissive wave of his hand. “Beezle, along with Aziraphale’s sleazeball manager, Gabriel, had planned the whole thing out.”

She raised a hand. “Okay, I have lots of questions. First, who is Aziraphale?”

“That’s A.Z. Fell’s real name.”

“Okay. Go on.”

“I was to ‘date’ him for three months, and doing so would put me back on the map, career-wise.”

“How on earth would that work?”

“Aziraphale is starring in a highly-anticipated film being released in a few weeks. ‘Tadfield’.”

“Ah! Yes, I’ve heard buzz about that.”

“Yeah, well, he’s the star, and poised to be launched into superstardom. The idea was that I’d shine in his reflected glory, as it were.”

“I take it you said no.”

Crowley sighed. “No. They guilted me into doing it by reminding me of all the people who depend on me doing well, so I agreed.”

Mary looked surprised. “You did?”

“Yeah. But none of that is the problem.”

“It sounds more than a little problematic to me, but I’ll take your word for it. What is the problem, then?”

Crowley raked his hands through his hair, making it stick up every which way, then dragged his hands down his face.

Mary looked concerned. “Crowley? What’s wrong?”

“I actually fucking like him,” he burst out, letting the words spill out into the open - and take on a reality they hadn’t had until that moment. The weight of them made him lean forward and prop his elbows on his knees, burying his fingers in his hair in a gesture of near-desperation.

She shook her head. “I don’t understand the problem. It seems like, if you were actually to go along with this plan, it would be to your advantage to get along with someone you’re supposed to be in a fake relationship with. Liking him is a good thing.”

“Yeah, except I don’t just like him,” he explained, feeling like a bloody teenager. “I… well, I like-like him.”

“Oh!” Mary chirped, looking very surprised indeed. “You’re attracted to him.”

“Very much so. He’s… he’s like every good thing this world has to offer all rolled into one person. How could I not be mad about him?”

She recrossed her legs. “Tell me about him.”

“He’s gorgeous,” he started, staring off into space as he let his brain recount every moment with Aziraphale. “Absolutely bloody gorgeous, but he’s that kind of beautiful that you might not notice at first. It sneaks up on you, yeah? His hair is so blond it’s almost white and he has the most fascinating eyes. Sometimes they’re blue, but sometimes they’re almost brown. Very unusual, but bloody gorgeous.”

“So you’ve said,” Mary commented dryly, sounding amused. “What’s he like?”

Crowley pondered this for a second. “Well, think of me, then think of the exact opposite.”

“The opposite?”

“Polar fucking opposite. He’s a bit of a wallflower - hates parties. He dresses like something out of the 1950’s or something, all in light colors. He wears a waistcoat everyday, for fuck’s sake. It’s like he’s stuck in the bloody past. Absolutely maddening - and desperately appealing.”

“Yes, but what’s he like? That’s more of what he looks like. What’s his personality like?”

“Very prim and proper,” Crowley said, thinking of Aziraphale and smiling faintly. “He always uses the correct fork and dabs his lips with a napkin after every bite. Sits very properly, too, with his back straight and his hands in his lap. He lives in a flat - just a regular flat, nothing fancy - even though he could afford better. He doesn’t see the point of getting a bigger place when it’s just him and his books.”

“His books?”

“Christ, yes. The man has more books in his flat than I thought it was possible to own. He says - how did he phrase it? - reading relaxes him and enriches him at the same time. Something like that. His goal as an actor in Hollywood is to make enough money so he can retire back to London and surround himself with even more books.” Crowley gave an absent grin. “The daft bastard.”

Mary was quiet for a second, watching him carefully. “I’ve never heard you talk about anyone this way before. Your tone and language are a complete departure from your usual.”

“That’s because I feel completely different about him, compared to anyone else I’ve ever known. It’s absolutely thrilling - and completely horrifying.”

“Why horrifying?”

“Because I find myself wanting to do little things to make him happy. I want to bring him little gifts, take him places, make him smile at me. That stupid fucking smile that’s just for me.”

“So why don’t you?”

Crowley sighed, slumping back against the couch again. “Because it’s all supposed to be fake, isn’t it? It’s all a fucking sham. None of it’s real. It’s all an illusion.” He raised his hand and waggled his fingers sarcastically on the last word, then ran it through his hair with a frustrated huff.

Mary shrugged. “The circumstances you started under don’t necessarily have to dictate the ones you finish under, Crowley.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean… you’re the author of your own story. Right? Just because the two of you came together because of a publicity stunt doesn’t mean you have to keep that as your motivation. You could make it real.”

Crowley sat up again. “I don’t see how! Fucking managers have planned every moment together for us - all our dates are scheduled and even fucking choreographed. Matter of fact, Beezle called me on the way here to inform me that I was moving too slowly and need to speed everything up - holding his hand, kissing him occasionally in full view of the cameras - I’m shocked they didn’t order me to sleep with him!”

“Do you want to do those things, Crowley? Hold his hand, kiss him, eventually sleep with him?”

“Not as part of some elaborate scheme!” he near-shouted, shooting to his feet and pacing in front of the couch. The more he thought about it, the more indignant he became.

“That’s not what I asked you,” Mary said calmly, indifferent to his pacing and fretting. “Do you want to do those things with him?”

Crowley flopped back down onto the couch, slumped, the fight leaving him. “Yeah. Yeah, I do.”

“Then do them. Do them from a place of honest emotion. If you want to touch him and he’s amenable, touch him. If you want to kiss him, kiss him. Despite how it began, there’s no reason you can’t have a normal relationship with Aziraphale.”

He considered that for a moment. The idea had scads of merit, and he very, very much wanted to be closer to Aziraphale. But…

“I have no idea how a normal relationship is supposed to progress,” he admitted. “I haven’t been in an actual, real relationship in - bloody hell, it’s been over a decade. And the relationships I did have way back when were… tumultuous. I don’t want that for my angel. I’m a rubbish boyfriend, and he deserves better. Maybe I should just stay away from him altogether,” he finished, hanging his head.

“No, I don’t think so. You were much younger then, and lots of young people are rubbish at serious relationships, just by virtue of being young and inexperienced. Besides, you were partying a lot and that’s not at all conducive to a successful relationship. But you’re older now, more stable in every conceivable way, and that will go a long way towards making things smoother. Besides, didn’t you just say you’d never felt this way about anyone before?”

“Yes.”

“Then you’re not likely to treat him the same as you treated everyone else,” Mary pointed out. Crowley was quiet for a moment, considering, and Mary leaned forward, putting her hand on his knee comfortingly. “Trust yourself, Crowley. I know that’s not easy for you, but trust yourself.”

He nodded, his mind swirling. Could he do that? Could he actually pursue Aziraphale and show his feelings honestly? If he did, would it work? Would that win him his angel’s heart?

“I still don’t know what to do,” he confessed. “I mean, I don’t know how to go about it. How to balance what Beezle wants from me and what I want to do.”

“It sounds to me like Beezle wants you to do what you already want to do, just for different reasons. Why don’t you follow their directions - to a point. If they tell you to hold his hand and you want to do that, you look for an opportunity to hold his hand. If they tell you to start kissing him and you want to - do so when you’re ready. You don’t have to do everything they say as soon as they say it - I would actually advise taking it slow. But as far as how things should progress, what order you go in, take your cues from Beezle and Aziraphale’s manager. They seem to know how it’s supposed to go.”

“You think?”

“I do.”

“Thank you, Mary,” Crowley said, getting to his feet and offering his hand. “You’ve given me a lot to think about.”

“I hope you will have a good think about all of it,” Mary said with a smile. “Do what your heart wants, Crowley. Just… be cautious. Go slow. It sounds as if your Aziraphale may appreciate that.”

“Yeah, sure. You’re right, of course. See you next month?”

“Same time and place,” Mary agreed.

Crowley left, as he so often did, feeling lighter, but with his brain swirling with thoughts and questions for him to figure out.

Chapter Text

September 14, 2019

Aziraphale turned this way and that, looking at his reflection in the mirror on his closet door. The suit he was wearing was something of a departure for him, but he rather thought it looked good. It wasn’t all that different from his usual attire, really: it was in his preferred neutral shade, a very light tan, with a matching waistcoat. But the whole thing was cut a bit slimmer than he was used to. That wasn’t a bad thing, though - it made him look much more suave than usual, if he did say so himself, and he also looked about twenty pounds lighter. He’d forgone his usual blue shirt in favor of a white one and wasn’t wearing a bow tie. Actually, he wasn’t wearing a tie at all. Instead, he had a dark red pocket square in the same shade (he hoped) as Crowley usually wore. His collar was unbuttoned, which was quite the departure from his norm, but he supposed concessions must be made for fashion - even if it wasn’t what he preferred. Regardless of how out of place he felt, he looked good, and looking good was paramount tonight.

Tonight was the annual Falcon Hall Awards Ceremony, and although neither he nor Crowley had been nominated this year, they were both attending as guests. Aziraphale had been to awards shows before, of course, but had always just gone inside through a back entrance, without the benefit of a red carpet. Tonight, though, he was supposed to walk the red carpet with Crowley, and the very thought had him tied up in knots. He’d better get used to it, he supposed, since he was to be doing much more of it in the near future, with the release of ‘Tadfield’.

The mobile lying on the bed behind him went off, playing Crowley’s text tone, and he reached for it excitedly.

Crowley - turning into ur car park. b @ ur door in 3 mins

Aziraphale took a deep breath to steady himself and sent back, ‘Okay. I’m ready.’ He just hoped he hadn’t lied.

Three minutes later on the nose, Crowley’s distinctive knock came at his door. He checked his reflection one last time, whispered a prayer he wouldn’t make a fool of himself tonight (and that Crowley wouldn’t think him an idiot for wearing a pocket square in his usual shade), and went to answer it.

When he pulled the door open, all his breath - and his words - seemed to leave him. Crowley stood in front of him looking like sin incarnate in a well-fitted black suit, complete with a waistcoat and dark red tie. He noted, dimly, that he’d gotten the color of his pocket square nearly perfect. Crowley looked absolutely delectable.

The man himself was standing in the doorway, looking Aziraphale up and down as if he didn’t believe what he was seeing. He supposed, when he thought about it, that it must be rather shocking to see him dressed in such a way, considering the way he normally dressed. Still, he felt self-conscious under the scrutiny and fidgeted nervously.

“Hello,” he greeted when he finally found his words, but was unable to say anything else. If he were to say more, he very well may spill entirely too many of his honest thoughts and run Crowley off. That would be disastrous on several levels, so he clamped his mouth shut.

“Angel,” Crowley started, still looking awestruck. “You look… beautiful.”

Aziraphale wanted to believe he was sincere and this wasn’t part of their scheme. He desperately wanted Crowley to mean those words. Just this once, he decided to let himself believe. Just this once.

“Thank you. You look… exceptionally handsome yourself.” Massive understatement.

“Thank you. Are you ready?”

He nodded. “Ready to go.”

Crowley stepped out into the corridor to make room for Aziraphale to step out and close his door. That done, Aziraphale pocketed his keys along with his mobile and gave Crowley a tentative smile. “Let’s go, before I lose my nerve.”

The limousine that awaited them in the car park was sleek and black, and Aziraphale felt a flash of imposter syndrome - that niggling little voice at the back of his mind that insisted he didn’t belong, that people would wonder about who this usurper was, this pudgy man who was trying to fit in with all of the A-listers. He did his best to quiet that voice, giving himself a stern talking-to.

You have every right to be here. You have every right to be seen with Crowley.

Yes, but you really ARE an imposter on that front, aren’t you?

He couldn’t argue with that point, not even with himself, so he just gritted his teeth.

Crowley noticed from his place in the backseat to Aziraphale’s left. “Are you alright, angel?”

“I’m fine,” he assured Crowley with a tight smile he didn’t feel. His lips were a line and his stomach was churning. He could tell that Crowley wasn’t buying it.

“What’s wrong? You can tell me, it’s alright.”

“I just… get a bit anxious before public appearances. It takes me a bit to work the nerves out, is all.”

Crowley gave him a little grin. “You’ve been to awards shows, certainly?”

“Yes, but I’ve rarely walked a red carpet. It’s a type of performance I’m unfamiliar with.”

“Ah, that makes more sense. Well, would you like some pointers from someone who’s done this more times than I can remember?”

“Please,” Aziraphale said on a grateful exhale, with a small, genuine smile. “And thank you.”

“My pleasure. Hmm, where to start? The lights are going to be nearly blinding, flashes going off constantly. It’s very disconcerting at first. Don’t look at the lights, look at the faces of the people on the other side of the rope line. Make eye contact with as many as you can and smile. You’d be surprised how simply making eye contact and smiling at a fan can improve your reputation - fans will go online and talk you up for days. Even with my sunglasses, they still do so.”

“Eye contact and smile. Got it.”

“There’s a barrier between us and the fans and photographers called a rope line. On our side of the rope line, there’s a person squatting down who will tell us where to stand and when to move. Follow their direction. Or, if you miss a cue from them, just follow me.”

“Alright.”

“Photographers and fans are going to be shouting at you, but you needn’t acknowledge them beyond the eye contact and a smile. There are going to be a handful of reporters stationed at various places on the red carpet, and I’m going to speak to them. I’ve got a reputation of being chatty with the press, and I need to uphold that. You’re free to answer any questions they pose you, or you can ignore questions you don’t like. It’s entirely up to you.”

Aziraphale had no idea if he would have the wherewithal to do an impromptu interview, but figured he’d at least have to try.

“I also pose for the occasional selfie with fans, but since I’ve got a date tonight, I probably won’t be.”

His heart thudded at the words ‘got a date’, but he didn’t let on. Not even when Crowley gave him a wink - although he did feel himself flush.

“I’m going to be with you the entire time, angel. There’s nothing to worry about, I promise. If you relax, you might even have fun.”

“Relax. Right,” he repeated.

All at once, completely out of the blue, he felt a warm weight on his hand. He looked down and was stunned to see Crowley’s slender, long-fingered hand covering his. He stared at it dumbly for a moment, unsure how to react, and he must have hesitated a moment too long because Crowley started to withdraw it. Acting on pure instinct, Aziraphale quickly wrapped his fingers around Crowley’s, and suddenly they were holding hands. He hadn’t held hands with anyone for years, and when he had, it hadn’t made warmth surge through him like this, nor had it made his hand tingle. This felt more right than anything ever had in his life. And it couldn’t last, this was all going to end, but at least he could have this for the next nine weeks.

“Trust me,” Crowley said, and Aziraphale glanced up at him. His eyes were hidden by the sunglasses, but he still felt the sincerity coming off of him in waves.

“I do trust you,” Aziraphale answered quietly, from the bottom of his foolish heart. It was mad, placing his trust in a man who was only pretending to like him. But Aziraphale couldn’t help it. He felt… something he couldn’t quite explain and didn’t have time to analyze. Maybe it was stupid, but Aziraphale had never been particularly wise.

He didn’t let go of Crowley’s hand until they arrived at the venue and the limo pulled up to the carpet. Crowley let go then, when the door opened onto a sea of faces and flashbulbs behind a partition. The red carpet itself stretched before them, seeming incredibly long.

“Ready?” Crowley asked, a smile on his handsome face.

Aizraphale couldn’t answer with words, he just nodded.

Crowley fairly jumped out of the car to the sound of riotous cheers and applause. He raised his hand to wave at everyone, circling the limo to come to Aziraphale’s side and open the door, extending a hand down to him. Aziraphale took the offered hand and climbed out of the back of the limo, taking in the sights and sounds around him. Crowley squeezed his hand and leaned over to murmur in his ear.

“Smile, angel.”

Aziraphale did so at once, giving Crowley a grateful look, then turning back to the crowd. Crowley gave another wave with his free hand, and Aziraphale followed suit, still smiling.

They followed the directions of the first person kneeling before the rope line walking to a certain point until she indicated they should stop. Crowley still held Aziraphale’s hand, and he devoutly hoped the gorgeous, red-haired man would never let go.

“Anthony! Anthony!”
“Who are you wearing?”
”Marry me, Anthony!”
“How long have you been dating Fell, Anthony?”
“I love you!”

Crowley smiled and waved at them. As he’d been advised, Aziraphale made eye contact with as many people as he could and smiled at them as genuinely as he could manage.

After a moment, the red carpet director signaled they should move on, so they did, still hand in hand, until they came to the next mark to stop. A reporter with a microphone and a press pass stood there, waiting. Crowley smiled brightly at them and squeezed Aziraphale’s hand, then made his way over.

“We’re here with Anthony J. Crowley and A.Z. Fell, how are you two tonight?”

“We’re lovely,” Crowley answered lightly, and Aziraphale nodded agreement, smile still in place. “Good night for an awards show, isn’t it? The weather is gorgeous. But then, that’s Southern California for you.”

“It truly is gorgeous tonight,” the reporter agreed, then asked. “I have to know, who are you both wearing tonight?”

“I’m wearing Oscar de la Renta,” Crowley answered.

Aziraphale swallowed and said, “I’m wearing Hugo Boss.”

“Well, you both look amazing,” she said, and Aziraphale relaxed a little. He hadn’t messed up. Wonderful.

“There have been rumors swirling about the two of you for the last few weeks, now you arrive for the red carpet together, hand in hand. Can we take this as confirmation of your relationship?”

Aziraphale felt his pulse spike, but butter wouldn’t melt in Crowley’s mouth. “I think that’s a fair assumption to make. I don’t know what my date would say about that, though,” he added cheekily, looking over at Aziraphale.

Aziraphale recognized the teasing and gave him a mock reproving look that was more fond than anything. “You scoundrel,” he chastised warmly.

“How long has this been going on?” the reporter asked. “When did you start dating?”

Crowley squeezed his hand, and he took that to mean that he should answer. “A little less than a month.”

The reporter looked surprised. “Is that all? You look very comfortable together.”

“Well,” Crowley drawled, “Sometimes you meet someone and click with them right away. Something inside you just knows. And that’s the way it felt meeting him.”

Aziraphale’s smile slipped momentarily into a dumbfounded look. Method acting, he reminded himself, then plastered the smile back on again and nodded in agreement.

“Now, A.Z., you’re starring in ‘Tadfield’, is that right?”

“Yes, or so they tell me.”

The reporter asked a couple more questions about their upcoming projects, then they were coached to move along. They did so, hands still entwined, until they got to the next stop.

“She was right, you know,” Crowley turned to Aziraphale and said over the din of the crowd, just loud enough to hear.

“Oh?”

“You do look absolutely amazing tonight,” he said, his smile nearly blinding.

Aziraphale suddenly felt wobbly in the knees. “Thank you, dear,” he said with the most sincere smile he’d worn all night.

They stood together on the red carpet, holding hands, looking at each other and smiling. For the first time, Aziraphale wanted to snog him absolutely senseless. He knew with absolute certainty it wouldn’t be the last time he felt like that, and the thought was as exhilarating as it was terrifying.

~*~O~*~

The afterparty was being hosted by a former co-star of Crowley’s and her director husband at their opulent beach house. Crowley had been here several times in recent years and was comfortable with his surroundings, but given that he had a date tonight and that date tended to suffer from social anxiety, he was a little more on edge than usual. He did his best to stick close to Aziraphale, touching him as often as possible, trying to keep him comfortable. For the most part, though, Aziraphale seemed to be fine. He wasn’t sure if it was the champagne they’d been drinking or relief that the event was over, but Aziraphale seemed just a little more at ease than he had been at previous parties - or even earlier in the evening. Crowley wanted to chalk it up to his calming influence, but didn’t allow himself to go too far towards believing that. He did hope, however, that Aziraphale was becoming more comfortable with him. The blond man didn’t pull away whenever Crowley reached for his hand or put his hand on his back, and Crowley was encouraged by that.

The two men chatted and socialized for over an hour, Crowley constantly on the alert for signs of fatigue or anxiety on his date’s face. When Aziraphale’s smiles started becoming a little more strained and the lines around his eyes a little more tense, Crowley excused them politely from the conversation they were in and escorted him to the beachfront door and out onto the patio, then down the walkway towards the ocean.

“Where are we going?” Aziraphale asked curiously.

“For a walk,” Crowley said simply, coming to a stop at the end of the walkway where the wood met the sand and stooping to pull off his shoes.

Aziraphale hadn’t moved. “A walk?”

“I’d like to, yeah. It’s a stunning night, we should enjoy it. Besides, you looked like you needed a break. I thought a walk on the beach might be just the thing. If I was wrong and you’d rather go back inside, though…”

“No! I mean, no, dear. I was just surprised, is all. A walk would be… it would be lovely.”

In his very stiff and proper way, he bent over and started pulling off his shoes. Crowley smiled at him, then rolled up his pant legs until about mid-calf. Aziraphale followed suit. Crowley took off his suit jacket, then removed his tie, laying them both on the rail of the walkway. He left his waistcoat and unbuttoned the top two buttons of his dress shirt while Aziraphale pulled off his own jacket and lay it neatly next to Crowley’s.

“You ready to go?” he asked.

Aziraphale nodded, and the two of them stepped off the wood planks of the walkway onto the sandy beach, between the dunes.

They walked to the edge of the water, until the ocean lapped at their feet, then turned to the right, following the wet line of sand. On Aziraphale’s side, there were opulent houses sitting a few hundred yards back from the sea, lights twinkling in the darkness with the faint glow of Los Angeles behind them. On Crowley’s side, the vast Pacific Ocean rolled gently, its waves lulling them. Far in the distance, Crowley could see a pier, but there was no one else walking the beach at this late hour.

He’d been alone with Aziraphale at his flat before, but somehow this felt much more isolated. He couldn’t possibly think why, but was grateful for the time alone with his angel either way.

They strolled in silence a while, the only sound being the gentle crashing of the sea, and Crowley watched his feet when he wasn’t sneaking glances at Aziraphale. The moonlight reflected off his hair and the seabreeze ruffled his curls a little. He was absolutely the most gorgeous thing Crowley had ever seen, and his heart swelled with some emotion he couldn’t (or wouldn’t) name. He wanted in that moment to see more clearly: to have absolutely nothing impede his view of Aziraphale, so he slipped off his sunglasses and slid them into his pocket, then glanced over at Aziraphale again.

He was clutching his hands in front of him, fingers wringing with a motion that betrayed anxiety. “I suppose I should thank you, dear.”

Crowley was surprised. “Thank me for what?”

“Tonight was… not nearly as unpleasant as I feared it would be, and I think that’s in large part because you were with me, guiding me. I’m eternally grateful.”

“You’re welcome, angel. It was my pleasure, and I’m happy to be a support anytime.”

They lapsed back into silence and walked a little while longer, but Crowley desperately wanted to talk to him more. So he said, “What do you like to do, when you’re in London? I know you have a couple of weeks there coming up… where do you like to go?”

“I’m rather a homebody,” Aziraphale started. “But I’m sure you’ve gathered that about me by now, it should be no surprise. When I do go out, I like to dine.”

“Anywhere special?”

“Oh, nowhere in particular, really. London is a wonderful place to be a - what’s that delightful expression? A foodie. There’s always some new restaurant to try, and if you’re in the mood for a good dessert, why, France is just a hop across the channel.”

Crowley raised one eyebrow and the corner of his mouth. “France?”

“Well, if one desires crepes, there really is nowhere else to go and get decent ones,” Aziraphale explained patiently in a way that was almost (but not quite) patronizing. Crowley just smiled.

“I’ll take your word for it, angel. Is there anywhere in London you’ve always wanted to try on your little culinary tours but haven’t?”

“The Ritz,” Aziraphale answered at once.

“You’ve never been?”

“No, but I’ve always wanted to go. It just seemed a waste to do so when it was only myself,” he explained. “The Ritz strikes me as the type of place that should be enjoyed with someone else, not by one’s lonesome.”

Crowley’s brain swirled with ideas and plans. He noticed from the corner of his eye that Aziraphale had quit wringing his hands and had let them drop to his sides. Crowley debated with himself for a few moments, then let his own hand brush Aziraphale’s. When that didn’t result in the other man pulling away, he caught Aziraphale’s ringed pinky with his own. The blond looked a bit flushed, but pleased - even if there was a touch of confusion on his face. Crowley walked along with him, their pinkies linked, until the urge to take his hand was completely overwhelming. He rearranged their hands, interlacing his fingers with Aziraphale’s, and yes. His very soul sighed with relief, and his corporeal form very nearly did, too. As it was, his shoulders relaxed and he let out a tense breath. How was it that holding hands with this angel of a man set his soul utterly at ease?

He thought he knew exactly how that was, if he was honest with himself, but didn’t feel very much like being honest with himself. Not right now, not in this moment. Thoughts like that were better entertained when he was alone with his plants and could work them out a little.

“I know I’ve said, but you really did look incredibly handsome tonight, Aziraphale,” he said instead, quietly. He could hardly be heard over the waves.

“Thank you, dear,” Aziraphale answered almost as quietly.

“I mean it. You were gorgeous. An absolute vision. I was terribly proud to have you on my arm.”

He saw Aziraphale smile and blush out of the corner of his eye, and had the sudden desire to kiss those soft lips. He wondered if Aziraphale would let him.

“I do hope I did alright,” Aziraphale fretted, then sighed. “I suppose I should get used to it, though. Life is about to get terribly hectic, isn’t it? Between the press tour and you--”

Crowley tensed. “What about me?”

“Nothing bad, dear,” he hastened to explain. “It’s just that… well… a great deal of our time together has been scheduled for us, almost dictated, really, and it looks like that’s going to continue…”

He looked over at Crowley, whose brow was furrowed, thinking, then he flushed, looking down again. “I’m sorry, dear. I shouldn't have brought it up. I apologize.”

Crowley ignored the apology and tamped down the urge to question why he thought he shouldn’t have mentioned it. Instead, he said, “What if we bucked them?”

Aziraphale looked up again. “How do you mean?”

He stopped walking and gently pulled the blond man to a stop. “I mean, what if we ignored the dates they had set up for us and went on our own dates? Places we want to go, doing things we want to do?”

He was quiet for a moment, then said, “You’re serious?”

“A hundred percent serious. We could go places we like, and get to know each other better that way. In fact, I already know where I’ll take you first, if you say yes.”

Aziraphale’s hair glowed around his head like a fucking halo and he looked so goddamned beautiful in the moonlight that Crowley had to fight every instinct that screamed at him to lean forward and capture that pink mouth with his own. His heart was beating a rapid tattoo in his chest, making the blood in his ears roar, and he hoped Aziraphale couldn’t feel him trembling. It felt, in that moment, that the entire world rested on Aziraphale’s answer. He was more nervous than he had been in years.

A slow smile spread across Aziraphale’s face, relieving Crowley immensely. “I think I’d love that, dear. Where would you like to go?”

Crowley let go of a breath and smiled in return. “It’s a club, but that’s all I’ll tell you.”

Aziraphale’s face fell. “A club?”

“Yes. I think if you give it a chance, you’ll love it. And after, I’ll take you for crepes. They won’t be authentic, but…”

“I’m sure they’ll be wonderful,” Aziraphale said with a small smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes and a squeeze to his hand. “Are you sure I’ll fit in at your club, though? I’m not very trendy.”

He knew exactly what the blond man must be thinking, but didn’t want to spoil the surprise. So he said, “You’ll fit in perfectly, angel. Trust me. Friday night? Seven o’clock?”

“It’s a date,” Aziraphale smiled.

Crowley couldn’t help it, he brought the hand he held up to his lips and pressed a kiss to his angel’s knuckle. “It’s a date,” he agreed.

Chapter Text

September 20, 2019

Aziraphale sat in the front of Crowley’s Aston Martin, his mind racing much faster than the passing scenery outside his window. All Crowley had told him about their date tonight was that he was taking him to a club. When Aziraphale had pressed for more answers, Crowley had stonewalled, telling Aziraphale only that he would love it and fit right in. When Aziraphale pressed harder, Crowley had simply smiled and asked, “Trust me, would you, angel?” And that had done it. Aziraphale hadn’t asked again.

But that didn’t mean he wasn’t nervous about the prospect of whatever club this may be. The most likely answer, it seemed, was some sort of dance club - and Aziraphale cringed internally at the very thought. The only dance he liked was the gavotte, which he had learned when playing a part several years ago. He’d been dismayed to learn after production that nearly no one had ever heard of this wonderful dance, and even fewer people knew how to do it. The extent of his dancing prowess otherwise was slow dancing - basically holding onto someone and swaying side to side - and he hadn’t even done that in many, many years. He hadn’t been exceptionally skilled at it, anyway. So he very much hoped a nightclub was not their destination.

There were other types of clubs, of course, but Aziraphale very much doubted that Crowley would take him to a book club. The red haired man had not expressed any real political inclination, so Aziraphale rather thought a political club to be unlikely. He had heard tell of other clubs where sex acts were performed, some of them involving submission and/or bondage. While Aziraphale wasn’t opposed to such things in theory and rather enjoyed sex (as best as he could remember, anyway), he did tend to think that enjoyment of such activities should be confined to one’s home. To that end, he hoped Crowley wasn’t taking him to a sex club.

But where?

Crowley seemed to sense his agitation and reached over from the gearshift to take Aziraphale’s hand, in a motion that was becoming increasingly familiar and easy. “Relax, angel,” he said. “You’re going to enjoy this, I promise. Have I ever lied to you?”

That stung a bit, squirming in his chest. Their whole relationship was a lie, really. Yet he still trusted this man who held his hand (and his heart) so tenderly.

They finally pulled up to valet parking in front of a beautiful but unmarked building Aziraphale didn’t know. Crowley squeezed his hand reassuringly then hopped out of the car, tossing the keys to the valet, and came around to open the door for Aziraphale. He offered a hand to help him out, and Aziraphale got to his feet, still trepidatious although Crowley was smiling widely.

“Ready, angel?”

Aziraphale nodded, giving as brave a smile as he could. Crowley entwined their fingers and led him to the door. They walked down a short corridor, then took a lift, and Aziraphale’s heart pounded harder with every step. He’d know where they were going soon…

The lift doors opened on the penthouse, and Crowley stepped out, leading Aziraphale by the hand. It seemed they were in a lavish restaurant: everything was sleek and modern in shades of white, grey, and black, there were candles on every linen-covered table, and somewhere inside, Aziraphale could hear a piano playing. He felt his eyes get big as saucers as he took it all in.

A slight man in a tuxedo rushed forward to greet them. “Ah, Mr. Crowley, you are right on time. Your table is this way, sir,” he said with a bow.

Aziraphale was too stunned to move at first until Crowley put a gentle hand on his back. He murmured, “Yes, of course,” and started to follow the host with Crowley by his side.

The host led them to a small table by the window, overlooking the city. Crowley held out Aziraphale’s chair for him, then took his own seat across the table.

“A bottle of Dom, I think,” Crowley said, then looked at Aziraphale with a grin. “Unless you’d prefer something else?”

“Er, no. No, that sounds lovely. Thank you.”

“Thank you,” Crowley said to the host, who bowed again. Then he turned to Aziraphale when the man was gone. “Welcome to Green’s Supper Club, Aziraphale. It’s a five-star establishment, very exclusive. I’ve had a membership for a few years, but have only ever come a handful of times.”

“Whyever wouldn’t you come all the time?”

Crowley shrugged. “Like you said: dining alone sucks.”

“So you brought me?” he asked, feeling warmth bloom all through his body and a smile grow across his face.

He shrugged again, looking sheepish. “It’s not the Ritz, but it was the best I could do.”

Aziraphale beamed. “It’s perfect. I love it.”

“Yeah?”

“Absolutely. This is amazing.”

“Good surprise, then?”

“The best.”

Crowley looked pleased with himself and Aziraphale was glad. He picked up the menu and started looking at it. “What’s good?”

“I’m not entirely sure, since I haven’t been here much. But everything I’ve had has been delicious.”

“It all sounds heavenly,” he said, perusing the menu. “Perhaps we should leave it up to our server, the way we did at the sushi restaurant?”

Crowley gave a lopsided smile. “It could be our thing - to let the server pick for us when we try a new place.”

Aziraphale felt a thrill at the idea of them having a ‘thing’, but nodded. “Yes, we could certainly do that.”

The waiter suggested the lemon chicken piccata, which sounded scrummy to Aziraphale. After the waiter shuffled off with their identical orders, he turned back to Crowley to find him smiling. Aziraphale smiled back, his cheeks heating a bit.

“So tell me more about your childhood in London,” he said to break the moment. “You were raised by a single mother and were a bit of a hoodlum as a youth?”

Crowley laughed, rich and loud. “I wasn’t a hoodlum, angel, although compared to you, I expect I was.”

Aziraphale chuckled. “I wasn’t always so innocent,” he teased back.

“Oh?”

“Indeed. People believed I was a prude, but I was a little prone to mischief myself. As all boys are, I suppose. But I was no stranger to playing small pranks on my friends. And…” He paused and leaned forward as if to spill a close secret. Crowley leaned forward to receive it, still smiling.

“In drama school, I even went so far as to get my ear pierced for a time!”

Crowley smirked. “You naughty thing. Your parents were probably not pleased.”

“No, not in the least. My schooling was paid for by scholarship, so they couldn’t threaten to pull me out, but they very much wanted to. I fought them for a while, rebelling in my own way, I suppose, but my mother’s disappointment was too much to bear and I eventually took it out. I never put it back in, although the hole is still there. At least, I assume it is.”

“My mother wasn’t pleased with my body modification, either,” Crowley confided.

Aziraphale raised his eyebrows. “You pierced your ear, too?”

“Yes, both ears, and I still wear earrings occasionally. She didn’t mind that so much. I did that when I was thirteen. But I fancied myself as something of a rebel in my late teens and early twenties, and ended up also piercing my nipples and getting a tattoo. Mum was not pleased about the tattoo. She said a piercing could be taken out, but a tattoo was entirely too permanent.”

His mind had gone blank. “You pierced your nipples?”

“And got a tattoo, yeah.”

Aziraphale did his dead level best not to imagine Crowley shirtless, with small silver rings in his nipples. His tattoo was certain to be something devastatingly sexy, and in his mind’s eye, he imagined all sorts of things in all sorts of places.

“Of course,” Crowley broke in, “it was a phase, so I ended up taking them out. They never looked quite right on me, anyway. Mum was right about the tattoo, though: it was permanent. Not that I regret it. I actually rather love it.”

“What did you - ahem,” he cleared his throat when his voice was a bit squeaky. “What did you get?”

“A black and red snake. He curls around my bicep and up over my shoulder.”

Ah. Well, that answered that. And he suspected he’d been right - that would be devastatingly sexy.

“Why a snake?”

“I’ve always felt a special kinship to snakes, I suppose. They’re blamed for the ills of the world, yeah? Original sin and all that. But all the snake did was ask questions. It was up to Eve to make the decision on her own. The snake just presented the options, as it were. And since I saw myself as questioning authority - especially at that point in my life - I decided to get a snake.”

“So you see yourself as a tempter?”

The gorgeous, red-haired man leaned forward again, sexy smile on his face, and Aziraphale was certain that if he could have seen his eyes, they would have been twinkling with mischief. He wished he could see, although it might have been his undoing.

“Why?” Crowley asked in a low, seductive voice. “Is it working?”

Aziraphale stammered, then was saved when the waiter appeared with a tray laden with food. He whispered a silent thanks to heaven for the interruption. Every day, he fell deeper and deeper under Crowley’s spell, and it was getting harder to remember that this was all pretend. He wanted it to be real so badly…

Swallowing his near-constant disappointment that he’d never truly have Crowley, he smiled, thanked the waiter, then tucked into his food. He may not really have Crowley, but he could enjoy the moment, and that’s what he intended to do.

~*~O~*~

September 24, 2019

The building that housed Heavenly Talent Management, Inc. was tall and sleek: the height of modern architecture. The management agency was on the top floor and Aziraphale sighed as he got onto the lift to go face Gabriel.

His manager was a bit of a knob at the best of times, but he was terribly good at what he did. He’d taken Aziraphale from an unknown nobody from London and raised him through the ranks until now, he was starring in what was expected to be a blockbuster film. He may not agree with Gabriel’s methodology all of the time, and his personality was… unpleasant, but he was effective, and Aziraphale supposed that was what mattered.

He got out of the elevator and stepped into the somewhat sterile waiting room of the management agency. He informed the receptionist that he was there to see Gabriel, then had a seat to wait. He didn’t have to wait long before Gabriel came out, all plastic smiles, spreading his arms expansively.

“Fell! Good to see you. You’re looking well.”

“I’m doing well,” Aziraphale replied, detesting the falseness of this man.

“Good, good. Come on back into my office so we can talk. Barbara? Hold all my calls for an hour.”

“Yes, Mr. Messenger.”

“Excellent. Come along, Fell.”

Aziraphale sagged a little. An hour would feel like six thousand years with Gabriel. Nevertheless, he followed the tall American dutifully back into his office.

Gabriel’s office was only slightly less sterile than the rest of the agency, with a minimum of personal touches. The only thing that really broke up the monotony was a series of photos featuring Gabriel with various movers and shakers in Hollywood. It was supposed to bolster his image and make him seem more important, and it was somewhat effective - at least, Aziraphale felt more off-balance in Gabriel’s office than he usually did anywhere else.

“So!” Gabriel was saying, shutting the door and striding around to the other side of the desk. “Have a seat, Fell, and let’s go over the next few weeks.”

Aziraphale sat in his usual seat while Gabriel took his own seat behind the desk, kicking his feet up and reclining in his chair. The blond man sat as primly as he always did, although he was a bit more stiff than usual. He tried not to let his anxiety show. Showing weakness to Gabriel was never a good thing.

“You’ll start next week with the junket, which begins on Sunday. Then on Tuesday, you’ll start on the talk show appearances - mostly late night, of course. On Thursday, you have the LA premiere, then you’ll fly out first thing Friday morning to New York. You’ll do the talk shows there for three days - I think there are five national shows and several regional ones - then Tuesday night is the New York premiere. Wednesday morning, you’ll fly to London and do the European chat show circuit, and the London premiere is Saturday night.”

He swallowed hard. “Keeping me quite busy.”

“Yes, quite. There will also be assorted print interviews scattered through there and photo shoots. After the London premiere, as requested, you’ll have a two week vacation in your hometown. We expect you back in LA no later than the twenty-eighth. Got it?”

“Yes,” he agreed with a somewhat dry mouth. It sounded utterly overwhelming, like a grueling two weeks, and he wasn’t entirely sure he was up to the task. By his count, that was at least twelve chat shows in less than a fortnight, not to mention print interviews and photoshoots. How on earth would he cope? And what on earth was he going to say to all these people? Crowley had said he’d be willing to be a support in any way he could, and Aziraphale was sorely tempted to ask him along on this wild ride, since he’d be at the premieres as his date anyway, but that was too much to ask anyone - especially someone who was only pretending to like you.

“Come on, Fell! Buck up! It won’t be so bad! A couple of hectic weeks, and you’ll be able to relax with your boyfriend for a couple of weeks in London.”

Aziraphale tensed. “My boyfriend?”

“Yes. Anthony will be joining you for all your red carpet appearances, of course, and he’s welcome to be there during your interviews and photo shoots, if you’d like. We’d prefer it that way, but it’s up to you.”

“I rather doubt he’ll want to subject himself to --”

“He’s agreed to be there in whatever capacity you want him, and to travel to New York and London with you. Beezle seemed to think he was looking forward to it.”

Aziraphale’s cheeks colored. He’d love for that to be true, but it was likely more method acting. He mustn’t get his hopes up.

He gave Gabriel a small smile. “I must remember to thank him for his kind offer - and to allow myself to lean on his expertise.”

“That’s more like it,” Gabriel said approvingly. “Very quickly - I just wanted to touch on some offers we’ve gotten. I think you’ll be pleased.”

“Oh?”

“Yes. I know I am.”

“What are they, then?”

“There are three offers on the table I think you should consider. You’ve been asked to play a British diplomat opposite Daniel Fortin, who will play the president.”

“Daniel Fortin!” Aziraphale cried. He was a huge star, an Oscar winner!

“Yes. There’s also a romantic lead for you opposite Eliette Montgomery and you’ve been asked to play the villain in the new Tyler Webb movie.”

Aziraphale was flabbergasted. These were roles he’d have never even daydreamed about for himself six months ago, now they were his for the taking. He couldn’t wait to tell Crowley - then caught himself. Why would Crowley care? He’d be long gone from Aziraphale’s life before any of these started filming.

The thought was a shock of cold water.

“You don’t have to decide right now, of course. There are advantages to all three of them, and I certainly have opinions, but they all pay the same - twice what you made for ‘Tadfield’.”

His mind was whirling again. Twice what he’d made? He’d made a fortune from Tadfield! One of these films and he’d be able to retire, with plenty to give to charity besides. The prospect was thrilling.

“Getting back to the subject of your boyfriend,” Gabriel said, and it wiped the dreamy smile off Aziraphale’s face at once.

“He’s not my boyfriend,” he bit out, unwilling to lie when he didn’t have to, needing a dose of truth. “But what about him?”

“We’ve been monitoring the media, of course, and social media as well. It seems our little plan has worked. You’re gaining legions of fans, and the public seems to ship it.”

“Ship it?”

“Think that the two of you belong in a relationship,” Gabriel explained. “And it’s easy to see why they feel that way. The two of you on the red carpet - there’s definitely chemistry there.”

Well, that’s what happens when you’re mad about someone he thought bitterly, but didn’t say. And Crowley’s a superb actor.

“Thank you.”

“It also seems that you two have gone off the playbook and done your own thing a couple of times.”

“Is that a problem?” Aziraphale asked, thinking of the night at the supper club and the walk on the beach.

“No, not at all. In fact, we encourage it. But coming to my point… there’s been lots of talk about how wholesome the whole thing is,” Gabriel said in his offhand manner, emphasis on the word ‘wholesome’, as if it were something undesirable. “I have to tell you, Fell, the fans are clamoring for more - and we want you to give it to them.”

“More?”

“Yes. You two have been an item for a little over a month. You should be kissing by now, and there should be some walks of shame, too.”

He felt like he had whiplash. “Walks of shame?”

“Being seen leaving the other’s home early in the morning. It’s just a slang term, don’t get excited.”

Realization finally set in, and Aziraphale was stiff as a board. “You want us to give the appearance of sleeping together?”

Gabriel shrugged. “Or you could actually sleep together. No offense, Fell, but you could stand to get laid.”

Aziraphale was on his feet in an instant, ablaze with righteous fury. “How very dare you? You dare suggest that I… that we…” He couldn’t finish, was too angry.

Gabriel raised his hands in a placating gesture, still reclined in his chair, smarmy smile on his face. “The sleeping together was just a suggestion, Fell. No one is going to force you to sleep with someone. But the appearance of doing so - that’s more than a suggestion. That’s an expectation.”

He was still angry, incandescently so, but swallowed it. “Holding hands and showing each other affection in public isn’t enough for you?”

“No. It’s very nice, I’m sure, but people want more, and it’s up to you to give it to them. You need to be seen kissing - multiple times, to make it real - and be seen leaving each other’s homes in the morning. Preferably in the same clothes you arrived in.”

“You ask too much,” Aziraphale managed, his anger simmering now. “This is too far.”

“I’ll let you know when it’s too far, Fell,” Gabriel said in a low, menacing tone. “You will do this, you will further the idea of the two of you as a couple, or you will face my displeasure.”

“I can find another manager,” Aziraphale challenged. “Especially if my star is on the rise, as you say. I don’t have to take this.”

“I’m far better connected than you, Fell. One phone call, just one, and I can ruin your brand new reputation. People listen to me.” His tone shifted and his face softened, even though there was no genuine warmth to his smile. “Besides, it’s not like I asked you for a kidney! I simply want what’s best for you, and I truly believe this is what’s best. I’m trying to help you here, Fell. Trust me.”

This didn’t feel much like help, and he couldn’t see how this would improve things, but Gabriel was right that buzz about him over the last few weeks had grown exponentially. It had been impossible to miss the increased news articles, nor the paparazzi hanging around whenever he went anywhere. But how much of that was ‘Tadfield’ and how much of it was Crowley was impossible to tell.

Either way, though, Gabriel had orchestrated it.

But how on earth was he supposed to invite himself over to Crowley’s home - a place he’d never been - and then invite himself to spend the night? Or how would he possibly broach the idea of Crowley spending the night with him without dying of mortification?

He sighed, defeated, knowing more and more with every passing day just how doomed he was.

Chapter Text

September 28, 2019

Crowley took a deep breath before he knocked, steadying his nerves. He hadn’t been invited to Aziraphale’s tonight, hadn’t even really talked to him today, but he’d found himself in his own house, surrounded by plants that didn’t talk back and sorely longing for Aziraphale’s company. He’d debated only a minute before he’d grabbed his keys and gone to the Aston Martin. He’d made a pit stop at the bakery, now here he was, standing outside Aziraphale’s door, debating running away and feeling like an absolute coward.

In a burst of bravado, he knocked, his heart in his throat while he waited for an answer. When he heard shuffling on the other side of the door, he did his best to relax his posture into something sexier and let a smile uncurl across the lower half of his face. The door swung open and Aziraphale stood there, looking surprised but not upset (thank God.)

“Hi, angel,” he drawled.

“Crowley! What a surprise!”

“Hopefully not a bad surprise.”

“No, no, not at all. Do come in, and pardon the mess.”

Crowley was already rather familiar with Aziraphale’s mess, but didn’t comment. He just stepped inside while Aziraphale shut the door behind them.

“I wasn’t expecting you tonight, I’m afraid. Have I forgotten about an event or...er... date? I have so much going on over the next couple of weeks, it’s entirely possible.”

“You haven’t forgotten anything, angel. I just figured since the junket starts tomorrow and the next two weeks are going to be fucking miserable, you might appreciate a quiet evening in. I thought we could pull up a film on Netflix or something.” He was getting dangerously close to suggesting Netflix and chill, and while he was almost certain the phrase and its meaning would fly totally over Aziraphale’s head, he was unwilling to risk it. So he regrouped. “Here,” he said, offering the string-tied box. “I brought cake.”

Aziraphale’s eyes lit up. “Oh, you shouldn’t have. What kind of cake?”

Crowley nearly laughed at the way he couldn’t seem to help himself. Hedonistic little thing. “Hawaiian and death by chocolate. You choose which one you like, and I’ll take the other.”

“You’re too sweet to me, dear. I’ll go put these on plates and pop some popcorn for us, and we’ll have a little picnic on the couch! How does that sound?”

“That sounds great,” he smiled, pleased and relieved that Aziraphale didn’t seem put out by him being there.

The blond man gave him a dizzying smile that made him go a little weak at the knees, then toddled off into the kitchen as if he weren’t the most breathtaking creature Crowley had ever seen. He watched him go, taking in the relaxed dress, the rolled up sleeves and the round little bum that was on display due to the lack of his usual jacket. Crowey felt his cock stir in his denims, and he viciously willed it to behave. An erection would almost certainly offend Aziraphale, and he couldn’t do anything to risk that.

Once he had control over his base urges - as much control as was possible, anyway - he followed Aziraphale into the small kitchen and offered to help.

Ten minutes later found them sitting down on Aziraphale’s large couch, surrounded by several types of snack and a couple bottles of wine, each with a plate with half a slice of two different types of cake on it (Aziraphale had insisted on sharing them, saying he couldn’t pick one). The blond man grabbed the remote and powered on the telly, balancing his cake on his knee.

“What would you like, dear?” he asked, scrolling around. “A comedy? Drama? Perhaps a documentary?”

“Whatever you want to watch, angel,” Crowley answered, settling into the squishy couch.

“Hmm. You’re no help. What do you normally like to watch?”

“I don’t have much of a preference. I tend to watch whatever looks interesting, regardless of genre.”

“Well, what do you find interesting?” he pressed.

You, supplied Crowley’s brain, but he tamped it down.

“Aziraphale, seriously, I’ll watch whatever you pick, and I’ll enjoy it. Truly.”

The other man made a moue, then sighed. “Alright, if you insist.” He scrolled around a minute or two while Crowley watched him covertly - his mouth was set in a line as he considered each title and his eyebrows furrowed in thought. Crowley rather thought it was adorable.

Finally, he landed on something. “How about this? An action film. You seem to be the type of man who would appreciate a good action film, yes?” he said proudly, as if thrilled to have figured this out.

Crowley smiled. “I actually do enjoy action films. Kind of have to, having been in so many of them. I’m in this one, in fact.”

“You’re not!”

“I am. It’s only a small role, but I’m in a few scenes. It was early in my career.”

“Well now we simply must watch!” he cried happily, still looking pleased with himself. Then he gave Crowley a look. Crowley couldn’t say why, but the look felt piercing.

“What?” he asked, trying not to squirm.

“Might I ask a favor of you?” Aziraphale asked politely.

“Sure. Anything,” he answered, trying for casual.

“When we’re alone together and there are no paparazzi or producers or industry people around, would you consider taking off your sunglasses for me? I’d like to see your eyes.”

The request caught him off guard, but he wasn’t likely to deny Aziraphale. He was starting to believe that there was very little he’d ever deny Aziraphale. The thought - like so many others related to this man - was both thrilling and terrifying.

Obeying the request, he wordlessly reached up and removed his glasses, folding them and slipping them into his jacket pocket. He felt vulnerable, bare to Aziraphale’s gaze, but that gaze was kind and gentle, a smile lighting the angelic man’s features.

“Here I am,” he joked weakly, to cover his recurrence of nerves.

“There you are,” Aziraphale echoed. “I’m so glad to be able to see you. I do so love your eyes.”

Crowley swallowed, afraid that now, Aziraphale could see too much of him.

“Now!” Aziraphale said with a small clap. “Let’s start the film, shall we?”

“Yes,” Crowley answered, grateful. “Let’s.”

The film rolled and they settled in to watch, the popcorn bowl between them. Crowley wasn’t able to concentrate for shit because of all the little noises Aziraphale kept making while he ate his cake. Once again, his cock took note, and Crowley had to shift his weight several times to hide what those noises did to him. At the same time, however, he wanted to hear infinitely more of those sounds, so he gave his plate of cake over to the angel after only a few bites. Aziraphale protested for just a moment before taking the cake and starting to make those sounds again. Crowley wasn’t sure if he was in heaven or hell.

Occasionally, after Aziraphale finished the cake, their hands would brush as they reached for popcorn at the same time, and if Crowley started watching Aziraphale out of the corner of his eye in order to ‘accidentally’ decide to grab popcorn whenever he saw the other man’s arm move, well, that was nobody’s business but his own.

Crowley hadn’t seen the film in several years, but still remembered shooting it very well. The star had been a Hollywood veteran, someone Crowley had really looked up to, but had turned out to be a bit of a prick. It had been a disappointing lesson, but he hadn’t really idolized anyone much after that.

Except Aziraphale, of course, but that was a completely different type of idolatry.

When Crowley appeared on the screen, he was treated to a squeal from Aziraphale and the other man slapping his leg excitedly. “It’s you! It’s you!”

Crowley smiled indulgently. “Yes, angel, it’s me.”

“Look how long your hair is,” he marvelled, eyes glued to the screen, but Crowley had his eyes glued to Aziraphale as he watched. The other man seemed almost enraptured by the sight of Crowley twelve years ago, and it occurred to him that maybe Aziraphale was interested, after all.

“Yeah, that was my actual hair. No extensions.”

“It’s glorious,” Aziraphale murmured, and Crowley had the sudden urge to grow his hair out.

The scene changed and Crowley was no longer on the screen. Aziraphale’s focus seemed to be broken and he reached for his glass of wine, drinking about half of it in one go. Crowley leaned forward and did the same.

He hadn’t really given much thought to the possibility that Aziraphale might want him. He knew that he wanted Aziraphale, but the blond seemed so out of Crowley’s league. He’d just assumed he wasn’t Aziraphale’s usual type - but hadn’t been able to stop himself from flirting. He couldn’t help how he felt. But what if he wasn’t alone in those feelings? What if Aziraphale, too, wanted more out of this relationship than a bump to their public images? What if this could really be real?

“There you are again!” Aziraphale said excitedly, breaking into his thoughts. Then his voice changed. “Oh, my. You seem to have lost your shirt.”

Crowley smirked at Aziraphale’s blush, and took great pleasure in the way he was watching the screen closely again.

“Where’s your tattoo?”

“They covered it. No idea why: I was playing a thug, so a tattoo would have been in character, but there you have it.”

Aziraphale’s eyes were still glued to the screen, and Crowley continued with the thoughts he’d abandoned a few minutes before. He’d been flirting, sure, but he hadn’t been actively pursuing Aziraphale. Not really. What he’d been doing had mostly been instinct. But what if he did actively pursue Aziraphale? He suspected his methodology would be very, very similar to what he was already doing. It seemed his subconscious had sought to make Aziraphale his before his conscious mind caught up. What if he made a concerted effort to win his heart? Could he do it?

There was only one way to find out.

He needed to tread lightly, though, and take it slow. For one thing, the press tour started tomorrow, and Aziraphale’s next two weeks were going to be madness. He would need quiet support, a safe harbor to land in after a long, nerve-wracking day. It was entirely the wrong time to launch a full-blown campaign for his hand and heart.

But beyond that, he sensed that Aziraphale would be more likely to appreciate a slow seduction, rather than Crowley just blurting his feelings out. Yes, he needed to mind how he went, but now there was more than a bit of hope that Aziraphale was not immune to him. He was giddy.

The film ended and Aziraphale pressed stop, then leaned forward to get his wine glass again. “Well that was terribly exciting.”

“You liked it?”

“Very much so. The very best scenes, of course, were the ones that featured you.”

Crowley chuckled. “Thank you, but I suspect you’re a little biased.”

Aziraphale grinned over the rim of his glass. “Perhaps a bit, but I stick by my statement.”

“Noted.” Crowley reached for his own wine glass and, finding it empty, grabbed the bottle to refill it. When Aziraphale held out his glass, Crowley gladly refilled it, too.

After they both took a sip, Crowley turned his body so he was facing Aziraphale, pulling one leg up on the couch between them. He was pleased when Aziraphale mirrored him, and they were able to look at each other from opposite sides of the nearly empty popcorn bowl.

“Well,” Crowley started, a smile quirking his mouth. “We’ve seen one of my old works. How about one of yours?”

“Oh, I haven’t done anything nearly as exciting as that,” he pooh-poohed. “You don’t strike me as the type to be interested in period pieces.”

“I’d be interested in seeing you in a period piece,” he said honestly.

Aziraphale’s blush was quite endearing. “Maybe we can do this again sometime and, if you like, I can dig up an old film for us to watch.”

“I’d like that very much.”

They were silent for a minute, and Aziraphale studied his knee with a faint smile, as if pondering something pleasant. Crowley devoutly hoped to be the thing he was pondering, the thing that made him smile like that.

The silence grew longer, stretching out like warm taffy, and Crowley just basked in Aziraphale’s presence and happiness. After a few moments, though, his face fell and his brows furrowed.

“What’s wrong?”

Aziraphale shrugged, not looking up. “Just thinking about tomorrow, and the day after that, and the next two weeks, really. The press tour.”

“It’s going to be okay, angel,” he hastened to reassure him.

“I know. At least, I hope so. I’m dreadfully afraid of saying something stupid.”

“You won’t.”

“But how do you know?” he asked miserably, finally looking up, and his eyes were tortured. “I’ve done interviews before, sure, but always as second fiddle. Nobody really cared what I had to say. There’s no one for me to fall back on this time. What if I say something abysmally stupid and the interviewer laughs, then shows the clip to anyone and everyone - and everyone laughs? Oh, I couldn’t bear it.”

“Angel, listen,” Crowley started, removing the popcorn bowl from between them and scooting a little closer, until he was able to place a hand on Aziraphale’s bent leg. “You’re doing what my mother called ‘borrowing trouble’. Everything is going to go fine. I promise. I’ve said stupid things in interviews and wasn’t raked over the coals for it. Everyone does it. The interviewer’s job is to make you look good. That’s the whole fucking point of them, to make you look good and the film look enticing. They truly want you to do well, and will help you along the way if you need it. I understand how nerve-wracking these things can be, but really - you need to relax, Aziraphale. I’ve made it through every press tour I’ve had to do, and I’m willing to bet my car that you’re going to make it through this one without any major gaffes. In fact, I’m so certain, I’d stake both my cars on it.”

Aziraphale glanced up at him. “You’d bet the Bentley?”

“Gladly. I’m that sure, angel. You’re going to do fine.”

He gave a weak smile and averted his eyes again. “I suppose I better had, or else you’ll be walking.”

Crowley chuckled. “We wouldn’t want that.”

“No, we wouldn’t.”

He went on, determined to reassure him. “And even if it all goes tits up, if the whole two weeks ends up being a burning puddle of goo, it’ll be alright. We can still go off together.”

Aziraphale looked up sharply. “Together?”

“Yeah. London, right? I was planning to stay in town and hang around with you, but if you’d rather…”

“No! I mean, no, dear. It’ll be lovely to have company.”

Aziraphale was quiet a moment while the smile faded, and Crowley absently ran his thumb over the tweed of his trousers, feeling the thigh underneath, unable to stop himself, feeling absolutely compelled to comfort his angel.

Aziraphale was still looking at his folded hands, and Crowley couldn’t stand the silence, so he said, “I’m going to be there, you know. On the press tour.”

He smiled again, absently. “Gabriel told me you’d be my date to the premieres.”

“No. I mean, yes, I will be, but I’ll also be with you for the junket and the photoshoots and the rest of the shit. If you want. I won’t hover or anything, but I’ll be nearby. Or I can watch. It’s up to you.”

“You don’t have to do --”

“I want to,” he cut him off. Then he gave a lopsided smile. “Isn’t that what a good boyfriend would do?”

Aziraphale huffed a laugh. “I have no idea what a good boyfriend would do. Haven’t had one in many years.”

Crowley resolved to change that - to not only become Aziraphale’s real boyfriend, but to be the best damn boyfriend anyone had ever had, and he’d get to work on that goal just as soon as this fucking press tour was over.

But he said nothing.

“Would you…” Aziraphale started, then hesitated. His hands in his lap writhed and he stared at them, then nodded to himself, as if decided. “Would you like to stay?”

The words were like a shock all through Crowley’s body, and he almost recoiled a bit, taking his hand off Aziraphale’s leg. Surely the angel didn’t mean…

“I… I have a spare bedroom, and a spare toothbrush. I also have spare pyjamas, if you’re interested in them, although they’re probably not your style.” Crowley just stared at him and Aziraphale’s flush deepened. “You don't have to, of course, but Gabriel suggested it.”

Of course. Of fucking course Gabriel suggested it. Fucking fuck.

Still, the chance to spend more time with Aziraphale was hard to turn down - regardless of where the idea had originated. And he wanted to stay so badly…

“Would it make you feel better if I stayed?” he asked quietly.

“Well, you have had a bit to drink…”

Crowley was a long way from drunk. He wasn’t even tipsy. Two and a half glasses of wine over the course of three hours had barely had any effect. But if that’s what Aziraphale needed to justify this to himself, he could have it.

“I have,” he agreed. “Are you sure you don’t mind?”

“No, not at all. And maybe… maybe tomorrow morning, we can go for breakfast before the junket, if you’re still willing to go.”

It wasn’t what he wanted, not yet, but he’d take this. Anything Aziraphale would be willing to give.

“Of course I’m still willing to go, and breakfast sounds wonderful. Let’s do that.”

~*~O~*~

Aziraphale never closed the door to his bedroom, but he did tonight after locating the spare toothbrush, getting Crowley settled in the guest bedroom, and granting him refrigerator rights, should he become peckish in the night. It felt odd, having someone else in his home, but also very right for Crowley to be there. The only thing that would feel more right would be if the tall, sexy, ginger man were to crawl into bed beside him, spooning up behind him and holding him all night…

No, he admonished himself sternly. That was absolutely out of the question. It would never happen and he needed to get it through is head. No.

He sighed to himself and began pulling off his clothing, folding and hanging his garments neatly, then pulling on his pyjamas. He made a mental note to put on his regular clothes before he left his room in the morning. His tartan pyjamas were comfy and cozy, but not remotely sexy, and it wouldn't do for Crowley to see him looking so --

That train of thought stopped abruptly. So what if Crowley did see him in his pyjamas? It wasn’t like he was setting out to woo Crowley - for heaven’s sake, the other man was just pretending to like him. It didn’t matter what he wore. Crowley wouldn’t care.

Although, he supposed, it would be easier for Crowley to pretend if he didn’t see Aziraphale in something so hideous as his tartan pyjamas.

He sighed again, removing the throw pillows from the head of the bed, then turning down the covers and climbing in. His bed was warm and cozy, and he very much enjoyed relaxing there. He didn’t always sleep - had a bit of trouble with insomnia sometimes - but he loved being curled up under the covers with a good book.

Tonight, though, he decided he should probably forego the book and focus on trying to get some sleep. The next few weeks were going to be hectic, to say the least. He was going to need his rest.

So Aziraphale lay perfectly still on the bed, his hands threaded together over his abdomen, and closed his eyes. All at once, his mind was filled with Crowley: the way he looked, the way he sounded, the way his hand felt when touching Aziraphale, the way he smelled. He thought of the way those golden eyes twinkled when he was teasing, and the way his laugh sounded like the most beautiful of Shakespeare’s sonnets. He thought of the way just the simplest touch from his long-fingered hand had the power to reduce Aziraphale to a puddle. Shameful, really.

Aziraphale screwed up his eyes tighter and tried to change the subject of his thoughts. The press tour - yes. That would work. He tried to rehearse answers to potential questions and ways he could be clever. Witty. He could do that, right? Of course he could.

He was just mentally rehearsing a question about the film when Crowley snuck back into his mind. In his mind’s eye, he was on some stage with some chat show host, looking over into the wings to spot Crowley smiling at him. That would bolster him - it did bolster him, even in his daydream - and he felt better when he finished answering the imaginary question.

When, in his imagination, he looked back over at Crowley, the red-haired man was shirtless and his hair had gone long, just as he’d looked in the film they’d watched tonight. He’d looked so incredibly, achingly sexy in the film - a more reckless, dangerous version of the man Aziraphale knew. His black and red snake tattoo curled around his arm and over his shoulder, adding to the air of sexy danger Crowley had put off in the film, and Aziraphale’s cock twitched, starting to harden. He did his best to will it away, trying to think of decidedly unsexy things, but it only grew harder and more insistent, until it was tenting the duvet.

“Fine,” he spat to himself, quietly so Crowley wouldn’t hear in the next room. “Fine. Have it your way.” He’d do this, but then his brain had better cooperate and let him get some sleep!

He kicked off the covers in a huff, frustrated with this weakness, and even the friction of the duvet dragging his erection was nearly enough to make him moan. He closed his eyes and started tracing the bare strip of skin above the waistband of his pyjamas, while his mind began to wander.

Crowley was sitting on the couch next to him, his hand back on Aziraphale’s leg, his body nearer than it needed to be. Aziraphale’s heart thudded with anticipation. The look in Crowley’s eyes was ineffably tender, but there was a heat there, a spark that ignited Aziraphale. He brought his hand up to cup Aziraphale’s cheek.

‘Angel,’ he breathed, then he was kissing Aziraphale.

Aziraphale slid his hand into his sleep trousers, lightly running his fingers up and down the length of his hard cock.

The kiss was tender but hot, need barely restrained, and Aziraphale reached up to put his hands on Crowley’s lean torso. Within moments, he was busily unbuttoning Crowley’s shirt, wanting to feel as much skin as possible. Like a miracle, his own shirt and waistcoat were gone and Crowley’s hands were everywhere. Aziraphale moaned into his mouth, and Crowley started pressing kisses and nips to the skin of his neck, one hand going down to seek out Aziraphale’s cock.

He wrapped his hand around himself and began to pump slowly.

‘Please,’ he whined, reaching for Crowley’s cock. It was hard and thick, and he felt a thrill that this was all for him. All for him.

The next thing he knew, all of their clothes were gone and Crowley was pressing kisses down Aziraphale’s chest, leaving a hot, wet trail down to where Aziraphale wanted him most.

“Please,” he whimpered, his hand speeding up.

Crowley’s eyes glittered mischievously up at him and he licked a long stripe from the base of Aziraphale’s cock to the head, then swirled his tongue around the tip. Aziraphale groaned and Crowley grinned, opening his mouth and taking Aziraphale in, bobbing quickly.

“Yes, yes, please, Crowley, please…”

The hand that wasn’t assisting Crowley’s mouth by pumping Aziraphale’s cock went down to fondle and massage Aziraphale’s balls, rolling them gently while he sucked harder and faster. Aziraphale could feel himself climbing, the tension in his spine growing, and knew he was going to come soon.

Crowley’s mouth pulled off and he continued to pump his cock hard and fast. ‘Come for me, angel. Come for me.’

Aziraphale erupted, spilling, spilling, his whole body quivering and shaking with pleasure. Hot come splattered his abdomen and hand, but he still stroked himself, imagining Crowley’s pleased smile and the way the red-haired man would clean his spent cock.

The fantasy faded as Aziraphale panted for air, trembling with aftershocks, feeling his come cool on his hand and belly. Still, he couldn’t be arsed to care yet. He indulged a little more, thinking of nuzzling Crowley in the afterglow, holding him tight and not letting go, whispering sweet nothings to his dream man.

At length, though, the sticky mess needed to be attended to, and Azriaphale’s little moment of indulgence was over. It was time to clean himself up and go to sleep. He got up and wiped himself clean, berating himself the whole time for having fantasies about someone who didn't care for him, then changed his pyjamas.

It may be abysmally stupid to fantasize about a man who would never see him as anything but an obligation, but Aziraphale couldn’t deny being more relaxed after masturbating. He let himself daydream some more about being near Crowley, about holding him and kissing him, and drifted off to sleep with a smile on his face.

Chapter Text

October 2, 2019

Crowley made the way from the backstage area out to the seat reserved for him in the audience. He could hang around backstage, waiting in the wings for Aziraphale to finish his interview - and he had, over the last couple of days - but when he had the option, he chose to be visible in case Aziraphale needed the sight of a friendly face.

This was their second day of talk show appearances, and despite what he thought of his own performances, Aziraphale was doing very well. The junket had been grueling, especially for Aziraphale, who gave twenty interviews a day in two days. But he’d handled it with aplomb, like an old pro, and Crowley was terribly proud. Yesterday, the first day of talk show appearances, had been less of a marathon than the junket had been, and he’d only had to give three interviews, but they’d had to travel between each one. Today he’d only had two on the schedule, and this was the second one. Crowley was planning to steal him away for a quiet dinner after this was over - his introverted angel needed a little while to decompress and relax before his interviews and the premiere tomorrow night.

The band leader counted off and the band started to play a popular tune. The light over the audience flashed ‘applause’, and the crowd clapped obediently. The host was getting settled behind the desk, adjusting his tie, and as soon as he was ready, the ‘on air’ light above flashed.

“Welcome back, ladies and gentlemen! You’ll know our next guest from his roles in films such as ‘Petronius’ and ‘The White Knight’. His latest film, ‘Tadfield’, is premiering tomorrow night and opens worldwide next week. Please welcome A.Z. Fell!”

The audience applauded, but none harder or louder than Crowley. Aziraphale appeared from behind the curtain and raised his hand to the audience, waving as he made his way across the stage. Once he reached the host, he shook his hand warmly, then turned and waved to the audience again before taking his seat. Crowley knew for a fact that he was nervous, but he didn’t appear so. He looked to be completely at ease, and Crowley admired his acting skill.

When the applause died down, the host began the interview. “Welcome, welcome!”

“Thank you so much,” Aziraphale replied. “It’s lovely to be here.”

“You’re looking well.”

“Well, I’m feeling well.” The audience tittered.

“So tell us about ‘Tadfield’! You play a vicar, is that right?”

“I do. ‘Tadfield’ is the story of a man who moves to a small town in Britain to escape what he sees as the evils of London and stumbles upon a rather alarming situation with a little boy.”

“Adam Young, is that correct?”

“Yes.”

“What was it like working with someone so young?”

“Oh, he was an absolute delight. A true pleasure to work with.”

The host smiled approvingly. “So what’s wrong with young Adam?”

“Well, it seems the forces of heaven and hell are conspiring to take over the world using the boy as a pawn, and the vicar seeks to stop them.”

“Both of them? It seems the vicar would be more likely to support heaven’s mission.”

“Well, you would think so, but my character is very much a lover of human nature, and believes wholeheartedly in the goodness of humanity - without divine interference.”

“I see. Now, was this filmed in England?”

“No, it’s set in England, but the majority of it was filmed in North Carolina.”

A few people in the audience - North Carolinians, Crowley assumed - whooped and Aziraphale acknowledged them with a smile.

“Beautiful state, North Carolina. And the food is simply to die for.”

“Oh?”

“Yes. You see, everywhere I’ve ever lived, ‘barbecue’ has been used to describe food that’s been grilled. But it has a completely different meaning in North Carolina. Barbecue refers to slow-roasted and seasoned pork. It was very scrummy, I must say.”

The audience laughed a little at the use of the word ‘scrummy’, and Crowley smiled fondly.

“I’ve heard of North Carolina barbecue - the people from there tend to crow about it as if it’s the best in the world.”

“They are certainly right to do so. It was heavenly.”

“It’s very hot, though, isn’t it? North Carolina.”

“Oh, yes,” Aziraphale agreed. “Very hot, and very damp. At least, the areas we were were very hot and damp. I should like to go back sometime when the foliage is changing. I’d imagine it would be breathtaking.”

“I would imagine so. Now, you’re from England, is that correct? London?”

“Yes, I was born and raised in jolly old London.”

“But you live in LA now.”

“Yes, I primarily live here - although I maintain a small residence back home.”

“So LA has not become your home?”

“LA is wonderful. I truly do love it here. It’s beautiful and exotic and my work is here, but London will always be my home,” Aziraphale answered kindly.

Crowley smiled again. He was doing beautifully. Why did he ever worry?

“Now, ‘Tadfield’ was your first experience in a lead role, is that right?”

“In a film, yes.”

“How was it different?” the host asked.

“Well, my trailer was bigger,” Aziraphale joked, and everyone laughed. Then he went on. “I’d say it’s a lot more pressure. It feels quite often as if the film’s success lives or dies on your shoulders when you’re in the lead role. But what’s odd is that that’s true and not true at the same time. Films are very collaborative, and each part builds on another. They actually live and die on the shoulders of everyone involved. If the director or producer or wardrobe or makeup is bad, everyone looks bad and the film isn’t as successful. Thankfully, everyone on ‘Tadfield’ was absolutely tip-top. A perfect serendipity of talent.”

Crowley blew out a breath. The answer had been fine, but he knew Aziraphale would be second guessing it later.

“Speaking of serendipity,” the host said with a sly smile, and Crowley tensed. Here it came, the question they all asked. He saw Aziraphale tense slightly, too, bracing himself, and he looked out into the audience at Crowley. Crowley smiled reassuringly.

“Yes?” he asked.

“It seems you have a new romance in your life.”

Aziraphale’s face relaxed into a smile, and Crowley couldn’t tell if it was genuine or just superb acting. “Yes, after a long period of being on my own, I’ve met someone.”

“Anthony J. Crowley, right?”

“Yes.”

“And, of course, he’s very famous. An a-list actor.”

“Yes, he is,” Aziraphale agreed.

“You seem very opposite.”

“Yes, we do to people who don’t know us well. And I would have said we were opposites, as well. But once we got to know each other better, we discovered that we compliment each other perfectly.”

“That’s wonderful. So tell us about him! You must know him better than anyone - what secrets can you reveal about him?”

Aziraphale looked to be in thought for a moment. “I’m not sure I can reveal any of his secrets without landing myself on the couch for an undetermined amount of time.”

The audience laughed, and Crowley did, too. As if he would ever banish his angel to the couch.

“I don’t know how honest I can be without embarrassing him… let me see. Oh! Yes. I can tell you that he drives like an absolute madman.”

The audience laughed and Crowley smirked.

“Is that so?”

“Oh, yes. I hadn’t prayed for many years until I found myself in the front seat of his car.”

Another laugh from the audience.

“Do you ever see him without his famous glasses?”

“You know, I do. He takes them off sometimes when it’s just he and I, and I can tell you - this might actually embarrass him, but hopefully not too badly - I can tell you that his eyes are simply stunning. The most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen.”

The host and the audience both went ‘aww’ and Crowley smiled, even as he flushed. Oh, he was definitely taking his angel out to a romantic dinner now.

“So do you see the two of you together in the future?” the host asked. “Is that something you’ve even talked about?”

Aziraphale darted a glance out to Crowley, who was near breathless waiting for the answer. How was Aziraphale going to spin this?

“I’d say that it’s still very early days for us, and we have no idea what will happen tomorrow, much less three months from now - or six months from now. We’ve only been together for a few weeks - although it seems in some ways like I’ve known him forever. Relationships are so tricky, anyway, and I’ve never been very good at them. But I like him very much and enjoy spending time with him. So we’re just taking it one day at a time right now.”

“That’s sage advice for anybody,” the host claimed, then turned to the camera. “We have to take a commercial break, give it up for A.Z. Fell!”

The crowd applauded, a few people whistling or catcalling, and Aziraphale waved to everyone again. The band started to play and Crowley got to his feet, heading back to meet Aziraphale in the green room - and to reassure him that he’d done an amazing job.

~*~O~*~

October 3, 2019

Crowley was nervous. Not because of the red carpet - he’d done dozens of those - but because of the fact he’d essentially been ordered to kiss Aziraphale tonight in front of the cameras and reporters. The text he’d gotten had been very clear, in all caps: KISS HIM OR ELSE. BEEZLE. He wasn’t sure what ‘or else’ meant - perhaps he’d have to find a new manager. Although, when he thought about it, Beezle probably wasn’t opposed to bodily force.

But the threat was redundant - Crowley wanted to kiss Aziraphale, and had been looking for an excuse. He’d been wanting to do so for weeks, and with every passing day, he thought he’d burst if he didn’t do so soon. He’d tried to work up the nerve many times, but hadn’t found the right moment. It seemed he’d dallied long enough, and the ‘right moment’ was now being thrust upon him - tonight, at the premiere. In just a minute, in fact.

Bloody hell, he was nervous.

He looked over at Aziraphale, who was using the hand Crowley wasn’t holding to fiddle with his tuxedo’s bow tie anxiously. Crowley thought very seriously about warning Azriaphale of what he planned to do tonight, but his angel was already so nervous… best not. Aziraphale might combust from anxiety if he did. As much as it felt unfair somehow, Crowley thought it would be best to surprise him with it.

“Are you alright?” he asked, squeezing Aziraphale’s hand.

The blond man looked back from where he’d been staring out of the window, wide eyed. “Hmm? Oh! Yes, I’m fine,” he lied.

“This is going to be a breeze, angel. You can do this.”

“Well I suppose I’d better, since I’m contractually obligated,” he deadpanned.

Crowley grinned. “I’ll be right with you. You’re not alone.”

Aziraphale’s face softened. “No, I’m not. And I appreciate that very much, dear. Thank you.”

He felt another stab of guilt for what he was about to do. It was unfair to spring this on him like that. He really should warn Aziraphale… it’s what any decent human being would do. He opened his mouth to speak. “Angel, there’s something --”

Just then, the limo pulled to a stop. He’d waited too long.

“What is it?” Aziraphale asked, just as Crowley’s door was opened.

“I’ll tell you later,” he answered, feeling wretched. Aziraphale looked confused, and Crowley raised their joined hands to place a kiss on his knuckles. “It’s fine. It’ll be fine,” he said in a hurry, as much to himself as to Aziraphale, then got out of the car hurriedly to go around to the other side and help Aziraphale out.

The crowd cheered when they saw him, and he waved while he circled around the car to Aziraphale. The cheer was even louder when Aziraphale got out, and Crowley was thrilled to hear it. His angel deserved all the accolades, in his humble opinion.

Crowley reached down and took Aziraphale’s hand, threading their fingers and leaning close to speak into his ear. “All of this is for you, angel. You’re a star.”

Aziraphale flushed but smiled at him, and Crowley squeezed his hand. “Come on. Let’s go do this.”

They started down the carpet, hand in hand, until they came to the first marker. They both posed, and Crowley was pleased to see Aziraphale doing what he’d taught him - making eye contact and smiling. The photographers asked for some solo shots of Aziraphale, so Crowley squeezed his hand in reassurance then stepped over to the rope line, shaking hands and taking a few selfies. By the time he was done, Aziraphale had posed by himself, then with Adam Young, and was now posing with another costar - the woman who played Adam’s mother. She was tall and gorgeous in an elegant gown, and Crowley waited patiently until she moved on, then he reclaimed his place by Aziraphale’s side and threaded their fingers together.

Aziraphale looked grateful, and Crowley gave him a reassuring smile. Together, they moved down the carpet a little ways to where a reporter was waiting to ask questions.

“Mr. Fell! Mr. Crowley!”

“Hello,” Aziraphale said easily, sounding perfectly calm. Crowley was willing to let him go and do this on his own, but Aziraphale had a death grip on his hand, so Crowley went with him.

“We’re here with ‘Tadfield’s star, A.Z. Fell, and his date, Anthony J. Crowley. How are you tonight?”

“Lovely, and I hope you are?”

“Great! What can you tell us about the film?” she asked, and Aziraphale launched into his semi-rehearsed summary of the plot. He wrapped up by saying, “It’s about good and evil, ultimately, and how far each force is willing to go to rule the world.”

“Fascinating. What kind of behind the scenes goodies are you able to give us?”

Aziraphale talked a bit about the camaraderie on set, and that everyone liked everyone rather much, so there really was no dirt to share.

“I will say that the catering was very good. Best tea I’ve had on this side of the pond - even if it was served cold,” he added cheekily.

The reporter laughed appropriately. “Your date tonight is the one and only Anthony J Crowley. Anthony, what did you think of the film?”

“My bloke was brilliant in it, of course,” Crowley enthused, smirking. “Stole every scene.”

“Oh, stop,” Aziraphale said, blushing.

“How long have you two been together?” she asked.

Aziraphale and Crowley exchanged a glance. He could almost tell you down to the minute how long it had been since they’d met, but he wanted to see what Aziraphale said.

“A few weeks. We’re a rather new couple.”

“You seem happy.”

“I like to think we are,” Aziraphale said with a smile, then turned to Crowley who beamed back and squeezed his hand.

“How did you meet?”

“At a party,” Aziraphale answered. “We’d never crossed paths before, but happened to be at the same party a few weeks ago.”

“The rest is history,” Crowley volunteered, then pressed an impulsive kiss to the side of his angel’s head. Aziraphale didn’t react, other than to beam at him.

“Well you’re certainly a lovely couple, and I wish you both the best of luck. Thank you both so much.”

Aziraphale and Crowley thanked her, then started back down toward the next marker, still holding hands. The flashbulbs were going off like mad and they were both smiling, turning this way and that for the photographers and fans. Crowley let go of his hand and put his arm around his waist instead, standing just a bit closer. He could feel his anxiety ratcheting higher, and knew that now was the moment. He needed to kiss him. Now, before he lost his nerve.

He leaned over to speak into his ear. “Hey, angel?”

“Yes?”

“I’d like to kiss you. Would that be alright?”

He felt Aziraphale go tense beside him, and was glad he’d given the warning.

“Al- alright.”

“Look at me, please.”

Aziraphale obeyed, turning his head around to face Crowley, looking anxious but still smiling, cognizant of the cameras. Crowley swallowed hard, then leaned in and pressed his lips to his angel’s.

The red carpet exploded with flashbulbs, but Crowley’s world exploded with sensation. Something like a pulse of electricity shot through his entire body, originating at the place his lips slid against Aziraphale’s and shooting through his entire body, down to his fingers and toes. Aziraphale’s lips were soft and warm, and although the kiss was chaste, he felt himself get lost in it. God, he could spend hours kissing this man… years, decades, centuries doing nothing but kissing him. However long Aziraphale let him have the honor of kissing him, that’s how long he’d stay like this. Forever.

All too soon, they pulled apart - but just a little. Crowley smiled - he wouldn’t have been able to do anything else if his worthless life had depended on it - and Aziraphale smiled in return. Their faces were mere inches apart; so close Crowley couldn’t see clearly, but he could see Aziraphale’s smile. He wanted to kiss him again, but didn’t push his luck. When a still-smiling Aziraphale turned back to the photographers and rope line, Crowley pressed a soft kiss to his temple.

“I’m sorry,” he breathed, and meant it. Not that he was sorry about the kiss - not remotely - but he was sorry for springing it on his angel.

“It’s alright, dear,” Aziraphale answered, turning back and still smiling. “I suppose we should do that more often now, shouldn’t we?”

Christ, Crowley couldn’t think of a single thing he wanted to do more often than kissing Aziraphale. Not one thing.

“We should, yeah.”

“Then we shall,” Aziraphale said with a note of finality.

Crowley meant to see that they did.

Chapter Text

Madame Tracy’s Star Watch, October 5, 2019 (excerpt)
Sparks continue to fly between Anthony J. Crowley and A.Z. Fell! The naysayers about this new relationship (the couple has been affectionately dubbed 'FellCrow' by fans) seem to have died down in the wake of their red carpet appearance at the premiere of Fell’s new movie, ‘Tadfield’. They appear to be very much in love, a solid (if new) couple, and this writer, for one, wishes them well…

~*~O~*~

October 6, 2019

Things were going well, all things considered. Over the last week, Aziraphale had become more comfortable with the interviews and his performance in them, although Crowley was still prepared to reassure him whenever the doubts crept in. Aziraphale responded well to his bolstering and seemed appreciative, and Crowley was thrilled to be able to help ease his mind.

Reviews of ‘Tadfield’ had been glowing so far, and critics were heaping praise on Aziraphale. It was well-deserved, in Crowley’s humble opinion, but Aziraphale seemed almost surprised by the accolades. Despite numerous people telling him repeatedly that they expected great things from ‘Tadfield’, and industry buzz being so intense, somehow, Aziraphale was still almost caught unawares that he was starring in a massive hit. Crowley didn’t see how that could possibly be, but it was. On anyone else, Crowley would have suspected false modesty, but he didn’t actually believe his angel was capable of that. Everything about him was so genuine.

Things between the two of them had been progressing well, too. Holding hands had become very natural to them, and they did so nearly all the time they were together - especially if someone may be watching. Crowley thrilled at each touch of Aziraphale’s hand, and always reached for it when he could. The kiss on the red carpet had led to more kisses (two on the lips and several on the cheek) - but always in public, in view of cameras. Behind closed doors, Aziraphale was much more aloof. Crowley wondered about that a little, but didn’t pick at it too much. Aziraphale probably had the same hunch Crowley did: that once they started kissing behind closed doors - actually kissing - there would be no stopping them until they were both sweaty and sated. As it was, every time their lips met, Crowley had to fight the urge to drag Aziraphale to a dark corner and kiss him until he just couldn’t anymore. Aziraphale probably felt the same, Crowley reckoned, and wasn’t entirely ready for them to take things further. That was alright. Crowley could be a patient man, when there was something he wanted, and he’d never wanted anything or anyone as much as he wanted Aziraphale. He could wait until Aziraphale was comfortable. Crowley had all the time in the world.

Besides, in the midst of all this media blitz was not the right time to make a move. Crowley wasn’t entirely sure when the right time would be, but he could follow Aziraphale’s lead. Of course he could, he reassured himself. Anything for Aziraphale.

There had been a little hiccup when they’d arrived in New York and realized that the studio had only arranged for one hotel room for them to share - a suite at the Plaza. Crowley would have been perfectly happy (and willing) to share a bed with Aziraphale, but the blond man had turned several brilliant shades of red when he figured out the situation, and that had been that. Thankfully, the room was not just one room, but more like a small apartment, and there had been a very nice sitting room with a very nice couch in it. Crowley had gallantly offered to sleep there, and Aziraphale had gratefully accepted. He was careful, the next morning, to clean up his pillows and blanket before room service was delivered, lest the hotel workers get gossipy. This meant that he was awake and moving much earlier than he wanted to be, but that was alright. Missing an hour or two of extra sleep was worth dodging potentially bad press. Plus, Aziraphale was an early riser, and Crowley would much, much rather be spending his time with Aziraphale than sleeping.

They were still in New York, their second day of three. Aziraphale had had two interviews today, and blessedly had been granted a four hour break before the next one, this evening on live TV. All of his media appearances thus far had been taped, and Aziraphale was exceptionally nervous about the live aspect of this particular interview, but Crowley, as always, assured him he’d be fine.

Crowley had known this four-hour period was coming today for several days, and had been very much looking forward to a little break. He was also torn about what to do with it. The answer had come to him suddenly while flipping through one of the hotel’s brochures, and he’d made the necessary arrangements.

They exited the studio from their second interview hand-in-hand, as had become custom for them, and Aziraphale made to hail a taxi. Crowley tugged his hand to get his attention. “Let’s walk.”

“Walk? Whyever would we do that?”

“It’s a beautiful day and I’m hungry.” Those things were true, but not the primary reason he wanted to keep Aziraphale out for a while. There were things afoot at the hotel, plans being put into place.

Aziraphale gave him a look. “You’re never hungry. Are you quite well?”

Crowley ignored that. “Have you ever had street tacos?”

His lip curled slightly, as if repulsed by the idea but trying to be polite. “‘Street tacos’? I can’t say that I have.”

“I saw a vendor just down the block. Come try them with me?”

“Oh, Crowley, I don’t know. Tacos are so messy…”

“I really think you’ll like them. Please, angel?”

Aziraphale looked doubtful, but Crowley just waited him out. Finally he sighed. “Oh, alright. I’ll try your silly tacos. Then I really would like to go back to the hotel and relax for a little while.”

“No problem,” Crowley agreed readily. He had plans to enact, after all. “Come on, angel.”

They made their way down the bustling New York street until they got to the food truck Crowley had spotted. Aziraphale muttered something about eating food prepared in a truck, but Crowley just grinned. Aziraphale would love this, he was sure of it. And he just needed to kill a little more time…

He helped Aziraphale order two tacos and placed his own order, then they waited expectantly for their food to be ready. When it was presented, all greasy and hot and perfect, Crowley led him over to a table situated nearby and they had a seat. He watched with excitement as Aziraphale eyed his food suspiciously. “It smells divine,” he admitted, “but it looks dreadful. I don’t know if I can get past the name. ‘Street taco’.”

“Just try it, angel,” Crowley encouraged with a playful roll of the eyes. Aziraphale eyed his taco again warily, as if it may attack him, then took a delicate bite. His eyes widened as he chewed, and Crowley felt like crowing.

“Why, this is delightful!” he declared after he swallowed. Crowley had a hard time tearing his eyes away from those grease-shiny lips, but shook himself a little and grinned.

“Told you. You’d truly never had one?”

“Never!” Aziraphale affirmed with a smile, then took another bite. Crowley was thrilled.

“Well, after you eat, I have another surprise for you.”

Aziraphale looked a little crestfallen. “Oh, my dear, I really had hoped to --”

Crowley held up his hand to forestall any argument. “You wanted to rest, I know. But I don’t think you’ll mind what I have planned. Can I tell you?”

“Go on, then.”

“When you finish, I’m putting you in a taxi back to the hotel. When you get there, a lovely lady named Marianna is going to meet you at the suite door. She’s going to give you a full body massage.”

“A massage! I haven’t had a proper one in ages…”

“Well, you’re getting one today. In about…” he checked his watch, “forty-five minutes.”

Aziraphale looked delighted, and Crowley mentally patted himself on the back. “Really, dear. You do spoil me.”

“You’re welcome.”

“But what will you do? Are you having a massage, too?”

Oh, how Crowley would love that. A couple’s massage… lying next to Aziraphale while both of them were naked, getting rubbed down…

His cock twitched, and he redirected his thoughts quickly.

“I’m going to fuck off for a while and let you relax. You’re probably sick of me by now.”

“Oh, I doubt I could ever be sick of you,” Aziraphale said, then flushed becomingly. It further cemented Crowley’s growing suspicion that Aziraphale really did want him.

But now wasn’t the time. “I guess we’ll see about that after this press tour, eh?”

“Really, dear, what will you do?”

“I’m going to pay a little visit to Strawberry Fields in Central Park. It’s a little pilgrimage I make anytime I’m in New York. While I’m there, I’m going to look up who has the best cheesecake in town, then go to that bakery and get a slice for you.”

“Oh, you needn’t do --”

“I want to,” he interrupted. “You can’t come to New York without tasting one of the things they’re famous for, can you?”

Aziraphale just smiled. “Thank you, dear. It’s too much.”

No, it wasn’t enough. It could never be enough, but Crowley still wanted to try to find that upper limit of spoiling his angel.

Instead of saying that out loud, however, which would definitely be too much, he shrugged. “You’ve been working so hard. You deserve a little pampering.”

Aziraphale looked a little uncertain all of the sudden, and it bothered Crowley. “What is it, angel?”

“Will you be back in time for the interview tonight?”

Crowley smiled. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

~*~O~*~

October 10, 2019

They’d been in London for less than twenty-four hours, and jet lag was gnawing at both of them, but there was no rest for the weary. Crowley had barely collapsed into his bed in his Mayfair flat, not even taking the time to acknowledge his plants, when his alarm went off and it was time to go again. He grumbled all through his shower and getting dressed, then drank an obscene amount of coffee, but Aziraphale’s happy face when he saw him made it all worth it.

The interview was with Studio magazine, and they learned after they arrived at the studio that Aziraphale was going to make the cover. Crowley wished fervently that they hadn’t let Aziraphale know that ahead of time, since he could practically see the anxiety spike in those blue eyes. There was little he could do but run his thumb comfortingly over the back of Aziraphale’s in what he hoped was a soothing way, doing his best to communicate a sense of reassurance and calm.

The journalist did the interview while the photographer set up the scene, consulting with the stylist and what the fuck ever. Crowley found a place to sit nearby and pulled out his mobile, killing time while Aziraphale worked.

The reporter asked the same questions that had been asked dozens of times by now about the film, being the lead for the first time, and whatnot. Aziraphale handled all the questions with grace and poise, as usual. When the reporter started asking more personal questions, Crowley paid a bit closer attention (while still pretending to be engrossed with his phone).

“You got your start in the West End, is that right?”

“Yes. I graduated drama school in the late 90’s and started acting in plays straight away.”

“So you didn’t make a break for Hollywood right out of the gate.”

“No, no. That came later.”

“Why did you go?”

Aziraphale pondered this for a second. “I think, like most actors, I simply decided that I wanted to conquer Hollywood. Tinseltown and all that, you know. I wanted to be able to say I’d had the experience, as it were.”

“Have you gotten that?”

“Oh, yes! It’s certainly been an experience.” Aziraphale laughed for a moment, then sobered, a smile still playing on his lips. “I never really dreamed I’d be here, starring in a film. Not really. I had wild daydreams, of course, but never believed they’d actually come true. It’s all been a bit surreal.”

“Do you miss the theatre?”

“Very much. That was my first love, acting wise, and it’s my eventual goal. I’d like to come back to the West End eventually. Film acting is amazing and wonderful, but there’s nothing quite like hearing the audience react to what you’re doing in real time. Gasps, sighs, laughter. And applause is addictive.”

“Have you ever considered Broadway?”

“I have, in passing, but I’m not a New Yorker. It’s a lovely town, full of life and wonderful people, but I’m not sure I belong there. Not full time. Besides, I don’t exactly have a Broadway-worthy singing voice.”

“There are other roles,” the journalist offered.

“Yes, I know, and I’d be amenable to doing a run of a play on Broadway, but I don’t think New York is meant to be my home. I belong on the West End.”

“How does romance factor into the equation?”

Aziraphale tilted his head to the side and Crowley looked up. “How do you mean?”

“Are you staying in Los Angeles primarily because that’s where Anthony J. Crowley is, or have you even talked about it?”

“No, that’s not why I’m staying. I love that he’s there with me, of course, but we’re not at a point where we would consider cohabitating. Bless his soul, he’s with me so much, it’s a miracle he doesn’t get sick of me.”

It sprung to Crowley’s lips to say he could never get sick of Aziraphale, but he bit it back. This was Aziraphale’s moment, and his role was to be silent.

The journalist looked over at Crowley, giving him an assessing look, then smiled. “He doesn’t seem to be sick of you at all. Is he always so supportive?”

Aziraphale turned a warm smile onto Crowley, who felt his insides squirm. “I simply adore him. He’s been an absolute angel.”

Crowley scoffed at the idea of him as an angel, but ducked his head before anyone could see him flush.

There were a few more questions, nothing notable, then the photographer signaled that she was ready. Aziraphale went to go put on the clothes the stylist had selected for him. When he came out of the dressing room, Crowley nearly made a guttural noise. He was dressed in denims - which Crowley had never seen him in before - and was wearing a henley underneath a blazer with the sleeves rolled up. It was the single most sexy thing Crowley had ever seen (how the hell was it that forearms were so sexy?), and his phone went to sleep in his hand while he stared.

The photographer posed Aziraphale sitting down, then standing up, giving him directions and snapping photos. Crowley knew that Aziraphale was hating every moment of this, but he was putting on a good show. If his smile was slightly forced, no one would know about that but the two of them.

“Look off camera and smile,” the photographer said, and Aziraphale turned his head. His eyes locked with Crowley’s, and a slow, genuine smile crept across his face. Crowley returned it, his belly all a-flutter and feeling feather light that he could make his angel smile like that, unworthy as he was.

“That’s it,” the photographer announced, lowering her camera. “That’s the cover. Thank you, you’ve been great,” she said to Aziraphale, then wandered off to be met by an assistant, flipping through the pictures on her screen. Crowley and Aziraphale looked at each other again, then the stylist came to get Aziraphale out of the clothes and back into his own. Crowley seriously considered asking him to keep them, but thought better of it.

Instead, he pulled his mobile out and looked up nearby restaurants to take his angel to before they had to do another interview.

Chapter Text

October 14, 2019

Aziraphale stretched luxuriantly against his soft cotton sheets, arching his back and balling his hands into fists to raise above his head with a groan of pleasure. He hadn’t slept quite that well in… well, he honestly couldn’t remember how long it had been. He certainly hadn’t slept well over the last two weeks - he’d barely slept at all, in fact. Maybe that was why he’d - oh goodness. He’d slept until nearly eleven!

He rolled over, sitting up on the side of the bed and sliding his feet into his worn slippers. With a yawn, he got to his feet and fetched his dressing gown from the foot of the bed, pulling it on and padding towards the kitchen in search of coffee.

Once the coffee machine was started and the heavenly smell was filling his small kitchen, he went to his mobile, which was on the counter, plugged into the wall. He picked it up and noticed a handful of alerts, but the one that interested him more than any of the others was from Crowley, and he smiled a little as he read it.

Crowley - lunch?
Aziraphale - That sounds lovely. When?
Crowley - pick u up in an hr?
Aziraphale - Perfect. :) See you then!
Crowley - c u

Aziraphale smiled as he sat as his kitchen table and sipped his coffee. An afternoon with Crowley sounded like heaven on earth. They’d been on the go so much over the last two weeks, they’d barely had time for a decent conversation. It would be nice just to sit down for a while and… talk.

Part of him wondered if they should discuss all the kissing they’d been doing. Crowley had kissed him a few more times, but always when they were in front of a camera. Once they were behind closed doors, they acted much more like very good friends (who happened to hold hands on occasion). There was a definite difference between the way they were publicly and the way they were privately. He was more than a bit sad that the way they were publicly didn’t happen all the time, but he was well aware of the deal they’d made. He also knew that Crowley was a dedicated actor, and that all of this was just a performance to him. It was absolutely vital that he bear that in mind at all times, no matter what their lips were saying or doing. This was all a facade, and it would end in just a few weeks. He may never speak to Crowley again after that - and Crowley may prefer it that way.

Well, that wasn’t entirely fair. He was sure that Crowley cared about him on some level, possibly even considered them dear friends. Otherwise, he wouldn’t do all of the kind things he did - especially those things he did behind closed doors. Like the massage, or all the times he tempted Aziraphale with various sweet treats. He definitely thought of Aziraphale as a friend, that was clear. But Aziraphale had been letting the line between fantasy and reality blur, and he simply must put a stop to that. They only had six weeks left in their arrangement - it was nearly time. In six weeks, they would ‘break up’, and life would go on as it had been. Aziraphale would be alone again, and he wasn’t looking forward to that.

Shaking off the maudlin thought, he finished off his coffee and went to get ready for the day with Crowley.

~*~O~*~

Aziraphale had known that Crowley drove a Bentley, a 1926 model, if he recalled correctly, but he was still a bit surprised when the sleek black-and-grey car pulled up in front of the bookshop forty-five minutes later. Crowley hopped out of the driver’s side, sauntering around the hood of the car with a smile on his face, his hips swinging like a pendulum and a smile on his face.

“Hello, angel,” he greeted with a bright smile.

“Hello, yourself. This is your car?”

“My pride and joy,” Crowley said, patting the hood gently, then leaning against it. “Can I give you a ride to lunch? I promise not to drive like a demon from hell.”

Aziraphale chuckled. “Yes, of course,” he said, then flushed a little when Crowley opened the passenger door with a flourish. He got in and watched Crowley surreptitiously as he circled the hood and clambered in. Really, the man was too sexy to exist. Curses on him. Why did he have to be so desperately appealing?

“So where are we going?” he asked after clearing his throat and changing the subject of his thoughts from Crowley’s swinging hips, hoping to sound nonchalant.

Crowley smiled at the road, looking immensely pleased with himself. “I’ve got us lunch reservations at the Ritz.”

“The Ritz!”

“Yes. You’ve always wanted to go, right?”

“Of course, but --”

Crowley spoke over him. “I tried to get us dinner reservations, but the first they had available were next Thursday night. I got that one, too, so we can go back for dinner next week. But I didn’t feel like waiting until then to try it out, so I got the reservations for today, as well. I hope you don’t mind.’

“Mind? Why, that’s the sweetest thing anyone’s ever done for me. I not only get to go once, I’ll get to go twice! Oh, I’m simply over the moon.”

The red-haired man, who was really driving rather sedately (for him), grinned. “I’m glad to hear it.”

They rode along, chatting about this and that... nothing of any consequence while Queen played on the stereo. He’d never given much thought to what Crowley’s musical tastes must be, but now that he knew, he was hardly surprised. It seemed to fit.

After a short while, they arrived at the Ritz. Aziraphale practically wiggled with excitement. Oh, what a lovely day this would be, and he had Crowley to thank for it.

They were seated within moments of their arrival at a lovely table. Crowley ordered champagne and Aziraphale picked up his menu. Everything looked so delicious, he was nearly parlayzed with indecision. Then Crowley gently reminded him of their little tradition of letting the waiter decide what to order when they first visited a place, and Aziraphale smiled, folding the menu.

After the waiter had come and poured the champagne then left with their orders, Crowley raised his glass in a toast.

“To press tours, and to you for surviving your first major brush with them. You got through without any major gaffes. You did well, Aziraphale. I’m proud of you.”

Aziraphale flushed with pleasure from the praise and clinked glasses with Crowley. They both took a sip, then Crowley sat his glass down.

“So! What’s next for the new star?”

“How do you mean?”

“I mean, what role are you going to play next? Surely the offers must be pouring in.”

Aziraphale nodded. “Well, according to Gabriel, they are. But he’s only told me about three he wants me to consider. Charged me with thinking about them while I’m in London, in fact.”

“Which are?”

“I was offered the part of a British diplomat opposite Daniel Fortin as the president of the United States.”

“Oh, be wary of him,” Crowley cautioned. “He’s an unpleasant git. I worked with him on a film and he made production a fucking nightmare. The bastard’s half out of his tree.”

“Noted,” Aziraphale said, and indeed made a mental note not to do that film.

“What are the other two?”

“I was invited to play the villain in the new Tyler Webb film, and I was offered a romantic lead opposite Eliette Montgomery.”

“Hmm,” Crowley said, looking thoughtful. “Either one would be against type for you, which would be good. You don’t want to follow in my footsteps and get pigeonholed into one type of film. Which would you feel more comfortable with?”

“I honestly don’t know. I haven’t given it much thought. Been busy these last couple of weeks, you know.”

“Yes, of course. What’s ol’ Gabe saying?”

“He’s not really indicated one over the other. I assumed he was just letting me get through the press tour without having to worry about it, but I suspect he’ll contact me soon to make his preference known.”

“Will you do what he says?”

Aziraphale sighed. “I nearly always do, it seems, even when it’s to my detriment.” Then he caught himself. Crowley had been one of the things Gabriel had told him to do! Oh, how embarrassing. He tried to think of a way to walk it back, but couldn’t. Just when he was about to say something - anything - the waiter arrived with their food and he was spared.

“Now that the press tour is behind you,” Crowley said after taking his first bite, “What did you think?”

“It was grueling,” Aziraphale said earnestly.

“They always are. But did it give you a taste for fame?”

“How do you mean?”

Crowley swallowed his bite of salad. “I mean, this was your first real taste of what it’s like to be a star - and this was only a taste. There’s much more to come. On top of that, it was a concentrated dose of of the ‘hardest part’ of being a star. You haven’t really gotten to the fun bits, yet.”

“Oh?”

“Nah. There’s much more to come. But you told me you wanted to retire as soon as possible, back here to London. I was just wondering if you had a new perspective on that, since the press tour?”

Aziraphale considered that a moment. The past two weeks had been overwhelming, yes, but even he had to admit that he’d gotten better and more comfortable as the time had gone on. It had been a rush to see fans shouting his name, cheering and applauding just from seeing him in person. And, apparently, this was only the beginning. The whole world was his oyster right now, he could do what he wanted. But what did he want?

Crowley. He wanted Crowley.

Shaking that unhelpful thought aside, he said, “I don’t know. I have to admit that being the toast of the town is quite a lot of fun, and there is a big part of me that will be hesitant to give that up. But there’s the other part of me that loves my little flat above the bookshop and a relatively quiet life. So I don’t know.” He speared a bit of broccoli and debated his next words. How honest did he want to be? “I will say, however, that my burning desire to quit Hollywood at the first opportunity has faded a bit.”

“Oh?”

“Yes. I think I might stay a while and do a few more films.”

“Good,” Crowley said with a smile, surprising Aziraphale. “I’d hate to see you leave.”

Aziraphale watched his face for a minute, trying to figure out just what he’d meant by that, but the moment was broken - again - by the waiter coming to check on them. Aziraphale plastered on a smile and told him everything was lovely, hoping to get rid of him, but when the waiter had left, the moment had passed. They spent the rest of the meal talking about the press tour, reliving it from different perspectives.

~*~O~*

October 17, 2019

Three days later found them in St. James Park, walking along the path, hand in hand. Aziraphale simply adored these quiet moments together, and felt a pang that one day in the very near future, they would all be a memory. He resolved (again) to make the most of every moment so when memories were all he had, he could look back without regrets.

“What would you say to seeing a play next week?” Crowley asked, apropos of nothing.

“Oh? What play?”

“I dunno. Whatever the hot ticket is. We could go Thursday night. Go to the Ritz for dinner, then take in a play. Or maybe Friday, we don’t have anything planned that day. How does that sound?”

“That sounds lovely, dear.”

Crowley looked pleased with himself, and Aziraphale was happy to have pleased him.

They found a vendor near the pond selling duck feed, and Crowley bought each of them a bag. Then they made their way to one of the benches near the pond, sitting a bit closer to each other than necessary, overlooking the water and chatting lightly as they fed the ducks.

“Do you like it?” Aziraphale asked suddenly.

“Like what?”

“Being a celebrity.”

Crowley shrugged, tossing food to the ducks absently, still watching them. “I suppose. There are good parts and bad, really.”

Aziraphale threw the last of his duck feed and folded the bag neatly, setting it to the side. “Well, what’s some of the good?”

“The money is fantastic. Really, can’t be beat. I never have to work again, if I don’t want to - and the vast majority of people in their thirties can’t say that.”

“No, they can’t.” Aziraphale almost could, but he wasn’t exactly in his thirties anymore. “And that does sound lovely.”

“But the work itself is fun. I like being an entertainer. I like knowing that I make people feel things. I just really enjoy acting.”

Aziraphale could relate entirely to that. He very much enjoyed what he did and now that the time was near that he could give it up, he was having second thoughts. Wondering if he really wanted to.

“The lifestyle takes some getting used to,” Crowley was saying.

“You mean constant parties and whatnot?”

“Well, yes. I find that I’m not as interested in all of that as I used to be - even just in the last few months, my interest in partying has waned. But that’s not exactly what I meant.”

“What did you mean, then?”

“I meant more that you lose your anonymity. People tend to stop and stare when you walk into a room, and then have hurried, whispered conversations behind their hands. You kind of have to pretend not to notice, but it’s impossible not to notice. And it tends to have an effect on you.”

That sounded less pleasant. Much less pleasant.

Crowley threw the last of his duck feed and dusted his hand off on his black denims, then reached for Aziraphale’s hand and laced their fingers. Something inside of Aziraphale uncoiled at the touch, and he bit his lip on a smile, despite the heavy subject matter.

The other man was still talking in the general direction of the ducks, sun glinting off his hair and making it fiery red. “It can be rather isolating, fame can. It’s hard to understand if you haven’t lived it, and even if you have, it can be incredibly difficult to trust anyone. Most people are so false, just so fucking fake. They’ll smile to your face and then in the space of a heartbeat, stab you in the damn back to advance their careers.”

“You’ve mentioned,” Aziraphale answered quietly.

“But that’s the thing,” Crowley said almost urgently, as if trying to make him understand. He turned just a little to face Aziraphale. “It’s like a miracle when you meet someone who isn’t like that. Who is genuine. Real. Someone like you.”

Aziraphale was staring at him, he knew it and couldn’t help it. It felt like he was caught in a snare - a snare he didn’t think he wanted to escape. He couldn’t see Crowley’s eyes, but perhaps that was a good thing. As it was, he was being slowly pulled closer and closer to Crowley’s lips, his mouth, desperate to taste him again - properly this time. For the right reasons. He wanted this man so badly, so very, very badly. A tiny warning bell sounded at the back of his mind, but he ignored it. The moment was now, and he was going to take what he wanted. He licked his lips instinctively, reflexively, their faces inching closer.

Finally, finally, their lips met, and Aziraphale’s soul flew away from his body.

He was dimly aware of Crowley’s hand coming up to touch his cheek, caressing him lightly. It was enough to make him moan a little as Crowley’s thin lips slid over his. Aziraphale had kissed and been kissed before, certainly, but nothing - nothing had ever felt like this. His heart sang, his body ached, and all he wanted was to live in this moment for the rest of his natural life.

Instinctively, he parted his lips and Crowley whimpered, but didn’t miss the opportunity to send his tongue out exploring. Aziraphale met him with tentative strokes of his own tongue, and melted into the kiss further when they met, caressing and tangling with each other. Crowley’s hand slid around to the back of Aziraphale’s head, holding him in place, but there was no danger of him moving away. He wanted more of this, all of this…. he wanted to glut himself on Crowley’s kisses until he wasted away to nothing - but that would never happen, because Crowley’s kisses would sustain him. The taste of this man, the feel of his gentle hands flexing in his hair was all he’d ever need.

God in heaven, Aziraphale was in love.

He whimpered when Crowley broke the kiss, chasing the other man’s lips and making him smile into another kiss. Aziraphale didn’t care, he could smile all he wanted so long as he kept kissing him. Forever. Aziraphale was in love and wanted to revel in it.

Crowley gentled the kiss again, softening the loss with a couple of light busses to Aziraphale’s kiss-swollen lips, then pulled back just far enough to say, “We’re making a scene.”

Aziraphale blinked, getting his bearings again and glancing around them. Over Crowley’s shoulder, in the distance, there was a man with a camera. It wasn’t pointed at them, but he still felt a cold chill race down his spine where a moment ago, he’d been so warm.

That was why Crowley had kissed him. It wasn’t out of desire, it was Crowley simply doing his job. Playing a part. Aziraphale felt utterly defeated. He did his best to push his emotions back, to beat them back into the shape they’d been in before, when he’d known better than to believe that Crowley could want him. Clearly, he couldn’t let go of himself for even a moment. When he did, he forgot himself entirely and ended up making an arse of himself. Stupid, stupid Aziraphale!

Crowley hadn’t looked away from his face and still had his fingers threaded through Aziraphale’s hair. There was a faint smile on his face, and he leaned back in to claim Aziraphale’s lips for another kiss. Aziraphale turned his head to the side and Crowley’s kiss landed on his cheek.

“What’s wrong, angel?” he asked, brows knit over the sunglasses and the corners of his mouth turned down.

“You just…” Aziraphale struggled to think of what to say. Finally, he landed on, “You go too fast for me, Crowley.”

Crowley looked shocked and somewhat dismayed to hear that, then his lips formed a line and he sat himself back from Aziraphale, dropping his hand out of his hair - but not letting go of the hand he held. “Right. Of course. I forgot myself. I apologize, I won’t push things again.”

Aziraphale wanted to plead with him to push things again, to please not stop, never stop… but he didn’t. He also couldn’t take the look on Crowley’s face - he looked almost hurt, but that couldn’t be right. Scrambling for something to break the moment, he said, “I think I saw an ice cream vendor a little ways back, and I’m suddenly feeling peckish. Do you think we could go?”

Crowley smiled, but it looked forced. “Sure, angel. Of course we can. Whatever you want.”

He heaved a sigh of relief as the got to their feet and started towards the vendor - hands still entwined. They had to keep up appearances, after all.

Neither of them noticed the photographer Aziraphale had seen over Crowley’s shoulder who was snapping pictures of his children, nor did they see when the photographer was greeted by his wife with a kiss.

Chapter Text

Madame Tracy’s Star Watch - October 19, 2019 (excerpt)
After a whirlwind press tour for ‘Tadfield’, it seems that the film’s star, A.Z. Fell, and his new love, Anthony J. Crowley, are taking a well-deserved rest in their hometown of London. The pair have been spotted together by paparazzi nearly every day, holding hands and gazing at each other lovingly...

October 21, 2019

They’d been in London for ten days, and it had been a glorious time - once the press tour was over. He and Crowley had done something together every day so far, usually lunch or dinner or sometimes just grabbing a coffee or dessert, then they typically went for a stroll, either in a park or just down the pavement. People frequently stopped Crowley on the street, and Aziraphale was always amused to watch him interact with his fans. He was shocked the first time someone stopped them - and wanted to speak to him. Crowley had just stood by smiling, letting him have his moment.

But no matter where they’d gone, they’d been together, and that was Aziraphale’s favorite place to be. Crowley seemed to feel the same - but, of course, he reminded himself, one couldn’t put too much stock into the way Crowley seemed. He was a gifted actor, after all. But he tried not to dwell on that, and to just enjoy every moment he spent with Crowley.

Aziraphale was excited to see what the next week would bring: he knew there was dinner at the Ritz on Thursday and they were going to a play on Friday, but beyond that, he wasn’t sure. Crowley had dropped more than a couple of hints about a day trip to France for crepes, and Aziraphale was learning not to put anything past him.

The time he hadn’t spent with Crowley had been fun, too. He’d had lunch with an old chum who had given him most of the gossip about mutual friends in London. In return, he’d been pumped for information regarding his relationship with Crowley. Aziraphale gave very little beyond what was public knowledge, and stuck to their manufactured story. Knowing the truth in his mind was bad enough - speaking it aloud to anyone besides Anathema and Gabriel seemed unthinkable. He wished for Anathema frequently, and texted her midway through his London holiday to arrange for a lunch date as soon as he got back to LA so he could spill all of this to her. There was so much to tell.

In his downtime, he did what he liked best (apart from spending time with Crowley) - he read. Oh, how he had missed this flat and these books - the ones he’d had for years and years and knew like old friends. He loved his books and apartment in LA, too, without a doubt, but not quite in the same way he loved his London flat. It was exceptionally lovely to be home, and he vowed not to stay gone so long next time.

Crowley had come over to his flat twice and they’d spent time on the couch talking, or sometimes watching films. They held hands nearly all the time they were together and it was feasible, but there had been no more kissing to speak of, save a peck on the cheek in greeting or parting, and Aziraphale was a mixed bag of emotions about that fact. Every night, he recalled the kiss and let his mind wander further, imagining the way Crowley’s lips would feel all over Aziraphale’s body, the way his hands would alternately grip and caress, the way his breath would get choppy with desire. He imagined his own mouth all over Crowley’s lithe frame, his hands seeking to bring pleasure. He imagined being filled by Crowley, and filling him in return. And every time he let his mind wander in this way, he found himself with his hand wrapped around his cock, coming into his fist, Crowley’s name on his lips.

The fact that he was now in love with Crowley was a huge problem, to his mind. He had no idea what he was going to do in a few weeks when this all ended. He knew he’d be heartbroken, absolutely shattered, and would likely spend a couple of weeks (at least) either lying on his bed, distraught, or sobbing on Anathema’s couch. It was going to be a nightmare, and very well may destroy him. The best thing he could do would be to distance himself now, to start tearing off the plaster so to speak as soon as possible. But he couldn’t. He couldn’t. Spending time with Crowley left Aziraphale happier than he’d ever been - how could he be expected to give that up before he absolutely had to? He wasn’t strong enough, he simply wasn’t. He’d face whatever happened in five weeks when it happened. In the meantime, he was going to love Crowley as bravely and quietly as he could - without falling any deeper in love than he already was. As long as Crowley didn’t kiss him like that again, he’d be fine.

Tonight, they’d gone to a little Indian place in Soho that had only opened in the last six months but had gotten rave reviews. It was apparently authentic and rather trendy, and Crowley had suggested it. Aziraphale wasn’t about to say no.

Given that the restaurant was only a few blocks away from the shop, they’d decided for Crowley to park the Bentley there and then walk to the restaurant. The walk there had been uneventful, other than Crowley holding his hand and making him feel all wibbly, and dinner was similarly uneventful, save all the devastating smiles Crowley kept sending him. It was easy to get lost in Crowley’s smiles, to let himself have the momentary belief that this meant something, that this was real. Aziraphale just basked in the joy of Crowley while he could.

After dinner, they started back towards the shop, hand in hand, with the vague intention of watching a film when they got back to his flat.

“When do you start filming?” Aziraphale asked, although he already knew the answer.

“Table readings start on the eleventh. Filming starts about a week after.”

“Will you be in LA the whole time?”

Crowley sighed. “No, I’m going to have to go to Canada for a bit. A few weeks. Not looking forward to that, actually.”

“Vancouver is lovely, though.”

“It’s not the location that bothers me. It’s not being in LA.”

The silence that came after that was pregnant with unspoken words, but Aziraphale didn’t push him. He was afraid to let his brain supply what hadn’t been said, but he longed for Crowley to finish by saying, ‘with you’.

A little less than halfway there, they walked into a cloud of heavenly scent - a bakery. Aziraphale protested, laughing, when Crowley pulled him in and insisted they have dessert. Of course, the wily thing only took two bites of their shared cake, then pushed the plate across the table to Aziraphale saying, “Here, you have it, angel.”

Aziraphale tutted. “If I keep letting you feed me, I’m going to find myself cut out of the running for most roles. I’ll be as big as a house.”

Crowley grinned. “I can’t imagine you as big as a house, but even if you were, you’d still be leading man material to me.”

He flushed, ducking his head to hide his pleased grin, and took another bite of his cake to keep from saying something stupid.

When the cake was finished, they stepped out onto the pavement, only to duck right back under the awning. Rain pelted the ground, falling in sheets, and Aziraphale looked out at it with dismay.

“How long is this supposed to go on?” he asked, sticking his hand out from under the awning to test the raindrops. They were fat and heavy.

Crowley pulled out his mobile and pressed the screen a few times. “It’s supposed to be like this for at least an hour or so.”

Aziraphale muttered under his breath. Leave it to the weather to spoil a perfectly lovely evening.

He felt a nudge at his elbow and looked over at Crowley, who was pocketing his mobile and grinning. “Want to make a run for it?”

“But it’s half a mile!”

Crowley shrugged. “Not that far. It’s only water, angel.”

Aziraphale looked out at the rain doubtfully.

“C’mon,” Crowley urged him. “How long has it been since you jumped in a puddle and made a big splash? This could be fun! Join me?” he finished, offering his hand.

A little smile spread across Aziraphale’s face as he looked at Crowley’s hand. Then the fingers wiggled invitingly. He took the hand.

“Perfect. Now, on the count of three, we’re going to run, okay?”

“O-okay…”

“One… two… three! Run!

They took off, out from under the awning, running full speed towards the shop and Aziraphale’s flat. They dodged other pedestrians with umbrellas and garnered odd looks from everyone they passed. The rain was really pelting them, thumping hard onto their bodies, but Aziraphale didn’t care. Something in him felt free, felt alive as he ran through the rain hand in hand with Crowley.

When time came to cross the street, Crowley slowed down long enough to jump into a large puddle with both feet, likely ruining his shoes. Aziraphale just laughed and followed him as they darted between traffic back to the flat.

They were both laughing when they reached the door to the stairs up to Aziraphale’s flat and tumbled through and then up the steps - still running, even though they were out of the rain. Finally, reluctantly, Aziraphale dropped Crowley’s hand in favor of pulling out his keys and unlocking the door. They stumbled in, both with laughs still bubbling, and Aziraphale shut the door to the world outside.

For a moment, they stood facing each other, both of them slightly out of breath, the ghost of their laughter still in the air and on their lips. Crowley was soaked, his auburn hair plastered to his head and darker than usual. Rain dripped down his face in little rivulets, and his glasses were spotted with raindrops. Aziraphale’s fingers twitched to reach out and remove them, but Crowley beat him to it, pulling his glasses off and revealing his golden eyes. Aziraphale felt a chill that had nothing to do with the damp as he looked into the eyes of the man he loved. They were intense, focused, but also still full of mirth - and something Aziraphale couldn’t (or wouldn’t) name. As he had that day in St. James park, he felt himself being dragged in, his mouth automatically softening to prepare for a kiss, and the lone little voice in the back of his mind that told him this was a bad idea was drowned out by the chorus that was urging him to let go, to let this happen, to fall headlong into Crowley and never look back.

Crowley blinked, shaking his head a little, and the spell was broken. He gave a nervous chuckle, and Aziraphale did, too.

“We made it,” he said.

“We did. And we’re soaked.”

“We are,” Crowley agreed. They lapsed into silence again, both of them uncomfortable, until Crowley started to say, “Well, I shouldn’t be dripping all over your carpet. I’d best be --”

“Stay,” Aziraphale said without thinking, making the offer before his brain could stop him.

“I’m going to get everything wet, angel.”

“I have a dry shirt you can put on. It may be a little big, but it’s clean. And you can hang your - your wet things by the fire to dry.”

Crowley grinned. “What fire?”

“The one I’ll start. That’s a working fireplace.”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course I’m sure. I’ve lived here more than twenty years, after all.”

“No, I mean, are you sure you want me to stay?”

“Oh. Yes. I - I do. Just let me, um, let me dash off and change my clothes quickly, I’ll grab you a change of clothes and a towel, and start the fire while you change. Alright?”

“Alright,” Crowley agreed, then Aziraphale gave one last smile and left, hurrying into his bedroom. When he caught sight of himself in the mirror, he nearly fainted. He looked horrid! Like a blond, drowned rat. His hair was dripping wet and curls were sticking up every which way. His clothes were plastered to his body, and he peeled them off quickly, down to his pants, then grabbed a towel and dried off before he pulled fresh clothes on. That done, he dug around for clothes Crowley could put on and grabbed a clean towel for him to use. Once he was done, he gave himself a once-over and nodded. Better. Not great, but better.

What he found when he stepped into the lounge nearly stopped his poor heart.

Crowley was crouching down by the fireplace, coaxing the wood to burn. He’d taken all his clothes off except for his jeans and water droplets shone on his back, catching the light when the muscles under his skin rippled with each movement. The black snake tattoo curled around his arm and up over his shoulder, and Aziraphale had never seen anything quite as sexy in his entire life. He wanted to stare at Crowley wet and half naked in his lounge forever.

He must have made a sound because Crowley turned around, getting to his feet when he spotted him. Aziraphale tried, he really tried to think of something intelligent to say, but his brain was overloaded by the sight of Crowley’s glistening, bare chest, the sparse hair dark and matted to his skin, and he couldn’t speak. As he watched, a droplet of water sluiced down from Crowley’s shoulder, over his chest, skirting his nipple, and down his lean abdomen. Aziraphale couldn’t look away.

“Are those for me?” Crowley asked, indicating the clothes and towel in Aziraphale’s hand.

“Y-yes. They are. Here,” he said, thrusting them forward.

“Thanks. Do you mind if I use your loo to change?”

Yes, I mind. Change right here. Show me more of that golden skin.

“No, no. Not at all. Help yourself.”

Crowley gave him a little smile of thanks, then slid by him to go to the bathroom. When he was gone, Aziraphale took several measured breaths, trying to get his brain in order - and trying not to think about Crowley one door away, naked. It was going to be a long night - and part of Aziraphale couldn’t wait.

~*~O~*~

October 25, 2019

Crowley was rather pleased with himself, really. He’d managed not to actively pursue Aziraphale during the press tour - well, at least, he’d reined in his pursuit quite a bit. He’d been more subtle and done his best to play the ‘supportive boyfriend’ role. All in all, he thought he’d done well. But after the press tour, all bets had been off and the seduction was on. Except for the hiccup with the kiss in St. James Park (which still made Crowley cringe when he thought about it), things had gone exceptionally well. They’d done something together nearly every day they’d been in London and were scheduled to fly back Sunday morning. They didn’t have any plans for tomorrow yet, but that could (and likely would) be remedied. All things considered, Crowley was patting himself on the back. He thought he was really making progress with his angel, and couldn’t have been more pleased.

For tonight, he’d gotten tickets to the hottest play in town: a modern adaptation of Hamlet starring the West End’s current bright young thing. Aziraphale seemed excited to see it, since it was his favorite play, and Crowley was excited to see him excited (despite being no great lover of Shakespeare’s gloomy ones).

When they arrived at the box office, the clerk informed them that they’d been upgraded to box seats. Crowley was confused: the tickets he’d had had been good, but box seats were better.

“Who upgraded the tickets?” he asked, brows knit.

“I dunno, sir, I just have the tickets here. Do you want to refuse them?”

One look at Aziraphale’s rapturous face was enough to nip that idea right in the bud. “No, no. It’s fine. I was just curious.”

They took the tickets and went into the theatre, hand in hand. Crowley caught a few double takes thrown their way, but no one made a scene. He was glad - having to play celebrity might have killed the mood.

They took their seats in the private box and Aziraphale looked around, smiling at his surroundings as he made himself comfortable. “Oh, this is terribly nice. Do you know, I’ve never seen a play from the box before? Well, unless you count rehearsals…”

“I haven’t either,” Crowley said. What he didn’t say was that he hadn’t been to a play in many years - since he graduated drama school. That might have earned him the same pursed lips he’d gotten when he’d confessed to not reading much.

Aziraphale was leafing through the playbill while Crowley did his best not to think of all the things they could get up to in a private box. It would be dark, and no one would be able to see them. It would be so easy to --

“Oh!” Aziraphale exclaimed, breaking into his thoughts. “I know the director!”

“You do?”

“Yes. He and I were old school chums that kept in touch, but we’ve drifted apart since I moved to LA. I didn’t know he’d taken to directing - how exciting!”

Crowley did his best to seem enthusiastic, but only a second later the lights dimmed and the play began. Within two minutes of the play starting, Crowley couldn’t wait another moment. He reached over to take Aziraphae’s hand, entwining their fingers. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the other man smile. He wasn’t sure the smile was for him and not directed at the play, but it made him feel better to think so, so he did.

They stayed that way until the play ended, chatting through intermission, hands still entwined. When it was done, Aziraphale stood, clapping loudly, and Crowley clambered to his feet to do the same. The play had been good, but he still very much preferred the funny ones.

Just as they were about to leave, they were met at the door to the box with an invitation to come backstage. Crowley was quite ready to leave (he was hoping to spend the rest of the evening on Aziraphale’s couch), but Aziraphale seemed overjoyed, so Crowley plastered on a smile and followed the usher through the corridors to the backstage area. Several people they ran across recognized them, and Aziraphale made a point to tell them all how wonderfully they’d done, how much he’d enjoyed the play. Every one of the people he spoke to lit up, and Crowley was amazed (again) by the effect his angel had on people. It was touching, and Crowley devoutely hoped that Hollywood wouldn’t suck that spark of kindness out of him.

At length, the usher brought them to the door of an office that read ‘director’. Crowley was a little dismayed when Aziraphale dropped his hand in favor of straightening his clothes, even adjusting his unruly hair a little. It seemed an odd reaction to seeing one’s school chum, but Crowley brushed it off.

Aziraphale gave a brisk knock to the door and they heard ‘come in!’ With a smiling glance over at Crowley, he pushed open the door and stepped inside. Crowley followed.

“Zira!” they heard, then suddenly, there was a blur of a tall man crossing the floor, arms outstretched. Aziraphale rushed forward to greet him, and the two met in an enthusiastic hug that lasted a bit longer than Crowley liked.

When it did finally end, the two men broke apart, but only barely. Aziraphale had his hands on the director’s waist and the director had one hand on Aziraphale’s shoulder and the other cupping his cheek with a fond look. Crowley definitely didn’t like that, and did his best not to squirm.

“My dear Fergus,” Aziraphale was saying, his voice warm. “It’s been too long. How are you?”

“I’m fine, Zira,” replied the man in a Scottish accent, and Crowley stiffened. ’Zira’?

“But look at you! Big Hollywood star!”

Aziraphale took a step back, which made Crowley feel slightly better. “I’m hardly an A-lister, Fergus,” he demurred.

“You are now, angel,” Crowley broke in, then stepped forward with hand extended. “Hi. I’m --”

“Oh, I know who you are,” Fergus said with a smile, turning to greet him. “Anthony J. Crowley. It’s an honor.” He took Crowley’s hand and shook it.

Crowley took a minute to give Fergus a critical once-over. He was devastatingly handsome, with strawberry blond hair, blue eyes, and broad shoulders. He had a scruffy, reddish beard that just covered a strong jaw - the kind of jaw you could grate fucking cheese on. He certainly didn’t look like any director Crowley had ever seen - he looked more like a movie star - and Crowley was acquainted with enough movie stars to know that wasn’t necessarily a good thing. He squared his shoulders in the face of this new, potential threat.

“Graham Fitzgerald,” the man was saying, pumping Crowley’s hand.

“Not Fergus?”

Fergus/Graham laughed and turned his eyes to Aziraphale with a warm smile. “That’s what my dearest friends called me in drama school. I go by Graham professionally. But you’re welcome to call me Fergus - any friend of Zira’s is a friend of mine,” he answered easily.

Crowley bristled a little, his skin crawling from the smarmy git’s light brogue. Not only was he, Crowley, more than Aziraphale’s mere ‘friend’, this man had now called Aziraphale by a pet name three times. It didn’t sit well with Crowley, but he swallowed it down.

“Come sit!” Fergus offered, showing them to a small sitting area. Crowley was further annoyed when Fergus took the seat on the couch next to Aziraphale and Crowley was forced to sit in the chair. His blood boiled when Fergus reached over to lay a hand over Aziraphale’s.

“I hope you don’t mind me upgrading your tickets,” Fergus was saying as he sat entirely too close to Aziraphale. “I’ve been reading the red tops, of course, and saw that you two were spending a great deal of time together, and that you were in town. So when I heard that Anthony J. Crowley had bought tickets for tonight, I took a gamble that my dear Zira would be with him and upgraded the seats. When I saw that I was right, I sent the messenger to ask you backstage. I’m so glad you came!”

“I’m so glad you invited us,” Aziraphale gushed. “It’s been an age! Last I’d heard, you were starring in ‘Portrait’.”

“Yes, I was. And it folded in just a few weeks. I was offered a chance to direct after that, and I decided ‘why not?’ Could be a nice change of pace, I thought, being in the director’s chair. Three years later and I’ve got a smash hit on my hands - although, to be fair, it’s hard not to have a hit with Shakespeare, eh?”

“It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving person,” Aziraphale said, now covering Fergus’ hand with his own. Crowley observed the touch with jealousy burning in his chest.

Aziraphale didn’t seem to notice. “Tell me about everyone! All our friends. I want to hear every detail,” he enthused, and Fergus launched into a telling of seemingly everyone they’d gone to drama school with’s activities over the last ten years, since Aziraphale had left London. Aziraphale seemed totally enraptured, frequently gasping or making some other kind of exclamation which, in Crowley’s opinion, only egged Fergus on. That was fine, really, and Crowley didn’t even mind when they started the inevitable trip down memory lane (although he’d been entirely forgotten and left out to sea). What grated on Crowley was the way they frequently finished each other’s sentences, and they way they seemed to take utter delight in each other. That wasn’t even touching on the copious amount of casual touching. None of that was ideal, but Crowley thought he was coping fairly well. If anyone noticed his hands gripping the arm of the chair hard enough to break or his jaw clenched, no one mentioned it. And why would they notice? They were entirely wrapped up in each other.

He could do this. He could be the third wheel, forgotten for the time. Aziraphale would be leaving with him. His angel would never throw him over for this Scottish ponce.

Would he?

Then Fergus said, “That happened right around the time you and I got together, didn’t it? I remember, because we had a double date with him and Stephen.”

Aziraphale started to answer excitedly, but Crowley cut him off. “Wait a minute. You two dated?” He looked between the two men. Fergus looked almost amused, while Aziraphale looked sheepish.

“Yes, for about six months,” Fergus answered cheerfully.

Crowley turned back to Aziraphale, slack-jawed, silently asking for confirmation. “Angel?”

“It was a long time ago.”

“Oh, decades ago,” Fergus agreed. “Something like 1999? No, it was ‘98 because we all got together to watch the Nagano Olympics at your flat, do you remember?”

“Yes,” Aziraphale confirmed, his cheeks still flushed. “I remember.”

“What a half-year that was,” Fergus went on, heedless of Crowley seething with jealousy. “We had some good times, eh, Zira? But eventually we decided we were better as friends than lovers. Easy mistake to make. Say, are you alright, Anthony? Can I call you Anthony?” he asked, looking curiously at Crowley.

He plastered on a smile. “Fine! I’m fine. I just had no idea you’d dated, is all.”

“We split amicably and have remained friends ever since,” Aziraphale explained.

“Aye. We realized it wasn’t working after a while and ended things. Unlike Mark and Douglas. Do you remember Mark?”

Off they went on another tangent, but Crowley didn’t pay any attention. He was entirely too jealous to think straight. Here was this handsome Scotsman, already enmeshed in the life Aziraphale was trying to get back to, and what was to stop them from rekindling their old flame? Thoughts pinged around his mind, each one worse than the last, until the door opened, surprising all of them. A beautiful brunette woman came striding in.

“Graham, honey? We’ve got to go… the sitter - oh! You have company.”

Fergus got to his feet, grinning broadly. “I do. Ella, meet A.Z. Fell and Anthony J. Crowley. They came to the show tonight. Zira, Anthony, this is my wife, Ella.”

Ella looked a little starstruck, flushing and stammering, but Crowley was sure he’d never been so glad to see someone in his life. A wife! He and Aziraphale got to their feet to shake her hand and introduce themselves properly.

“So how long have you two been together?” he asked, unable to stop himself.

Fergus slipped his arm around Ella’s waist. “Ten glorious years. And she’s only threatened to kill me - and meant it - a handful of times.”

“Oh, stop,” Ella said, swatting at Fergus. Crowley felt even lighter and on instinct, put his arm around Aziraphale. Then she said, “I really do hate to break up the party, boys, but I need to get this one home. The sitter has to be home by midnight, and it’s nearly eleven.”

Crowley’s delight grew. “Oh, you have children?”

“Aye, we do. A little boy, four years old. Daniel. Natural born performer - he’s going to be a star,” Fergus gushed.

“And another little boy on the way,” Ella added, covering her barely-rounded stomach.

Crowley could have danced a jig. As it was, he just smiled broadly as if he adored children (which he did, honestly), and bounced a little on the soles of his feet.

“We shan’t keep you any longer, then,” Aziraphale said kindly.

“When do you fly back? We’d love to have you two ‘round for dinner,” Fergus offered.

“We fly out first thing Sunday morning, I’m afraid, but I’d love to come to dinner next time I’m in town.”

We would, angel,” Crowley admonished, then turned a beaming smile on Fergus and Ella. “It would be our pleasure.”

Aziraphale gave him an odd look, but he just smiled back brightly and the blond man turned back to the woman.

“Ella, it was simply lovely to meet you. I’m so glad to know Fergus is in good hands.”

“I’m in good hands, alright,” Fergus said lasciviously, and Ella elbowed him. Crowley laughed, delighted.

“We mustn’t go this long without speaking again, Fergus.”

“I agree. Look me up next time you’re in town, yeah?”

Aziraphale agreed, and Crowley made sure to shake Fergus’ hand and kiss Ella (who blushed). He felt almost entirely relieved of the jealousy that had plagued him - but that didn’t stop him from touching Aziraphale as much as possible and referring to him as ‘angel’ more than was strictly necessary while they made their goodbyes.

Well, he conceded to himself, maybe he was still a little jealous. He was only human, after all. But not much. Fergus wasn’t such a bad sort. He’d definitely be encouraging Aziraphale to accept the dinner invitation the next time they were in town. He’d love to hear more stories about his angel when he was young. Hell, Crowley could even see he and Fergus becoming friends eventually.

As he’d hoped earlier in the evening, he spent the rest of the night (and the first part of the morning) on Aziraphale’s couch, before they went out to breakfast together.

Chapter Text

October 28, 2019

Anathema was running late, but that was nothing unusual. She was frequently late - a trait that Aziraphale chalked up to her general air of being a free spirit. He’d become accustomed to it over the years and wasn’t bothered by it. It was somewhat endearing.

While he waited, he reflected on the text message he’d gotten from Fergus that morning.

Fergus - was lovely to see you and meet your bloke. you make such a cute couple! hope I didn’t upset him too much - he seems the jealous type. be sure to get in touch next time you’re in London and we’ll do something. -F

Aziraphale had done his best to dismiss the notion of Crowley being jealous out of hand. It was laughable. He had just been uncomfortable being left out of the conversation, that was all. There was nothing to it. Nothing at all.

When Anathema finally arrived at their usual lunch spot, she breezed over to the table and Aziraphale raised up to greet her with a kiss to the cheek.

“Anathema, dear, how are you?”

“I’m well!” she said, taking her seat. Aziraphale followed suit. They made small talk for a few minutes while they perused the menus, then the waiter appeared to take their orders. Once he was gone, Aziraphale turned back to Anathema.

“How are you and dear Newton?”

“Fine, same as always, really. He’s all excited for Halloween this week. We’re going to a party in Malibu, and he’s convinced he’s got the funniest costume.”

“What is he dressing as?”

“Well, I’m dressing as a witch. It’s nearly all I’ve ever dressed as for Halloween. But he’s gotten it in his head that he’s going to dress as what he calls a witchfinder - a puritan who sought out supposed witches and burned them at the stake. He finds this utterly hilarious.”

“So you’ll be coordinated?”

She sighed elaborately. “I suppose so, even though his costume is so lame. He’d better just be glad that I love him in spite of him being a total dork.”

Aziraphale grinned and lay his napkin across his lap.

“So what are you and your dreamboat doing for Halloween?”

“Crowley and I?”

“What other dreamboats are you pretending to date?”

Aziraphale flinched at that, but recovered quickly. “We’ve been invited to several parties, of course, and I think we’re going to go to one of them. I’ve left it up to Crowley to decide which. We’ll also, er, be dressing in coordinated costumes.”

Anathema raised her eyebrows at this. “Oh, you will?”

He flushed hot. “Yes. An angel for him and a demon for me.”

“How intriguing,” she smirked.

Aziraphale did his best to seem unaffected. “But at any rate, we’re not staying long before we leave and come back to mine to watch scary movies and answer the door for any late trick-or-treaters.”

“You don’t like scary movies,” Anathema pointed out.

“Not generally, no, but Crowley does and, well, it’s the spirit of the thing, you know.”

“Of course. So tell me all about the press tour and London!”

Relieved for a change in subject, Aziraphale launched into a retelling of the last month, leaving out very few details. He told her about all the interviews, how Crowley had been backstage or in the audience supporting him for every interview, how he’d surprised Aziraphale with a massage in New York, and how he’d been the ideal boyfriend on each red carpet. He then told her all about the things they’d done when they were in London, how Crowley had spoiled him nearly rotten while they’d been there, how Crowley had flown him to Paris for dinner and crepes, how they’d gone to see a play and met Fergus (including Crowley’s odd behavior), and even about the kiss in the park that had left Aziraphale so rattled. It felt good to be able to tell all of this to someone, but Anathema didn’t say anything. She just absorbed it all.

Just when he was finishing, the waiter arrived to bring their meals. They tucked in.

“So Crowley was with you the whole time, hmm?”

“Yes. He was right with me the whole time. A saint, really.”

“So you saw him every day while you were on the press tour and then every day in London, as well?”

Azriaphale nodded. He hadn’t thought of it that way, but when she put it like that…

Anathema had her lips pursed, which made Aziraphale squirm for some reason. He could tell there was something she wanted to say, but was still surprised when she opened her mouth and said, “You’re in love with him.”

He choked on his bite of food, then recovered and did his best to look questioning and not alarmed. “What did you say, dear?”

“You’re in love with him. With Anthony J. Crowley.”

“I am not,” he answered firmly, lying through his teeth. “This is strictly business, I told you.”

She narrowed her eyes at him. “And now you’re lying to me.”

“I’m not!” he lied further, starting to panic. “Honestly, what on earth would make you say such things?”

“Have you forgotten I can see auras? Yours is bright magenta, which is a tell-tale sign of being in love. And I can tell you’re lying by the distressed look on your face when you tell the lie. You’re in love with him and you’re lying to me about it.”

Aziraphale wouldn’t meet her eyes. He didn’t believe in that nonsense about auras and ley lines and all that rot, but he did find himself madly in love with Crowley - and he was lying about it. She had him dead to rights, whatever method she was using.

“C’mon, Aziraphale. It’s just me. You can tell me the truth. Isn’t that what friends do?”

He fretted with his napkin a bit more, worrying his lip, then sighed and sagged his shoulders. “Oh, alright. I admit it. I’m in love with him.”

Anathema squealed and clapped excitedly. “That’s wonderful! Have you told him?”

“Absolutely not!” Aziraphale squawked. “I could never…”

“Why not?”

“Because… because he is simply playing a role, that’s all. None of this is real - besides my feelings.”

“Are you sure about that?”

“Of course I am,” Aziraphale answered confidently. “Don’t you think I could tell the difference?”

“Maybe, maybe not. Was he required to go along with you on your press tour?”

“In a way. He was my date to all the premieres.”

“But didn’t you say he was at nearly every interview? He didn’t just go to the premieres.”

Aziraphale was getting agitated. “Your point?”

“Maybe he was there because he wanted to be there.”

“He was being a good friend. There’s no need to assign any more motive than that.”

“And then there was London,” she went on, ignoring him. “He didn’t need to stay with you in London.”

“London is his hometown, as well,” Aziraphale answered stiffly.

“But he spent every day with you. There was no reason to do that, yet he did. What does that tell you?”

“No more than I’ve already said. He’s most likely just playing a part, but at best he considers me a friend. Nothing more.”

“I think it’s more. You said he does little things for you, right? Brings you little gifts and takes you places that are off-script?”

“Well, yes, but --”

“So he’s going above and beyond to please you, when he doesn’t really need to. All he needs to do is be seen with you on a fairly regular basis.”

“And be seen leaving my flat in the morning to promote the idea that we’re sleeping together,” Aziraphale muttered.

“I wondered about that,” Anathema said. “Well, it certainly worked. The tabloids have been all over the story. They’ve even given you two a nickname - they’re calling you ‘FellCrow’ - like velcro. Get it?”

“Yes, that’s terribly clever,” he replied dully.

“But back to what I was saying: I’ve been working in Hollywood for a fair few years, and I’ve never come across anyone that dedicated to a role. And then there’s the bit where he got jealous while you were talking to your friend…”

“I didn’t say that!” Aziraphale protested.

“Oh, please. What you described was a textbook jealous response. All of it. He was jealous.”

“That’s preposterous.”

“Is it? You said yourself that his whole demeanor changed when Fergus’ wife came in and started talking about their children. He saw Fergus as a threat to him, but then that threat was neutralized and he felt more secure, so he backed down. Factor into that the way he spends more time with you than strictly necessary and brings you gifts all the time. Those are not the actions of a man just playing a part, Aziraphale. Those are the actions of a man who is madly in love.”

Azriaphale pondered this for a few minutes. Could it possibly be true? He was afraid to believe - couldn’t allow himself to believe. Doing otherwise was just inviting himself into greater heartbreak when this all ended in a month.

“Besides that,” Anathema was saying, “his aura is magenta, too, as best I can tell. It’s harder to get a read on them from TV appearances, but from what I can see, he’s glowing bright magenta, same as you.”

Well, that did it. If Anathema was basing her opinion on some…. some… hocus pocus, he’d be perfectly right to dismiss it entirely as utter hogwash. And he’d almost allowed himself to believe for a minute!

Aziraphale straightened his shoulders and went back to moving the food around on his plate, as if supremely unconcerned. “If Crowley had some feeling for me beyond friendship, he’s had plenty of time to make that known to me. We’ve spent hours upon hours together over the last two months, and the only slight indication I’ve had that he might fancy me even a little is the fact that he holds my hand sometimes.” All the time, his traitorous brain whispered. He ignored it. “He hasn’t given me any indication that what he’s doing is anything more than a very dedicated method actor immersing himself in a role. There’s simply no evidence, Anathema. He’s had ample opportunity to make his feelings known, but hasn’t done so. I’m left with no other choice than to assume he doesn’t have any feelings towards me.”

“He kisses you like he means it,” Anathema pointed out.

“And you know of that only because he solely kisses me for the benefit of the camera. He doesn’t do so at any other time,” he countered.

Anathema practically threw down her fork in frustration. “God, you’re stubborn. Why won’t you let yourself have this? You could be happy, Aziraphale, but you’re ignoring every opportunity to do so.”

Azirahphale sat down his fork with a gentleness that didn’t reveal his own frustration. “Alright, then, let’s play your little hypothetical game for a few minutes. Let’s say that I decide to let myself go and believe that Crowley wants me. He and I grow even closer - perhaps even sleep together. Then, a month from now, when the ninety days is up, he reveals that it’s all been what I’m telling you it is - him playing a part. Yet I’ve allowed myself to fall headlong into love with him. Can you imagine how crushed I would be? How heartbroken? As it is, I’m already dreading the end of next month, when all of this ends. What’s going to happen if I let myself fall even deeper in love than I already am, and then find myself utterly destroyed? Think of my heart, dear. Please.”

Anathema just pursed her lips and furrowed her brow, then looked down and raised her hands in surrender. “Fine. Fine. I’ll leave it alone. You’re determined to be stubborn, so I’ll leave it alone. But I think you’re making a mistake by not pursuing this.”

“Your opinion is noted and appreciated.” He reached forward and covered her hand gently. “I understand that all of this comes from a place of love, and it truly means the world to me, my dear. I’m touched. Honestly.”

“I do love you, and simply want to see you happy.”

“And I love you for that, but there’s nothing you can do in this situation.” He gave her hand a squeeze and sat back up. “Now! Let’s talk of something more pleasant, shall we? I hate when we argue, dear.”

But her words rattled around in his brain. When he’d catch himself thinking of the possibility that Crowley may want him, he tamped the idea down viciously. It simply wasn’t to be believed. He had to protect his heart - and to mitigate the damage that was surely going to be done to it in a short four weeks.

~*~O~*~

Crowley flopped inelegantly onto his therapist’s couch, sprawling out comfortably, his arms and legs akimbo, a lopsided, self-satisfied smile on his face.

“Sister Mary Loquacious, how the hell are you?”

“You’re in a fine mood,” she answered.

“Well, I’m coming off nearly an entire month of being with Aziraphale every day. You’d be in a great mood, too.”

She grinned. “You sound like a man in love.”

He considered her for a moment. “Hmm. I’ve never been in love before, not really, but this certainly feels different than anything I’ve felt before, too. So perhaps you’re right. Perhaps I am in love.”

“That doesn’t frighten you?”

“Why would it frighten me?”

“Many people, when they find themselves in love - particularly for the first time - find the experience to be frightening. It leaves them vulnerable.”

“I suppose there’s a bit of that,” Crowley allowed, “but I’m nearly entirely certain that he wants me, too. He just wants to take it glacially fucking slow.”

Mary studied him for a minute, then said, “Tell me about the last four weeks that you’ve been with him. What were they like?”

“Fucking heavenly,” Crowley answered with a smile. “The press tour was a nightmare for Aziraphale - hell, it wasn’t a picnic for me. But he did great. I did my best to be the supportive boyfriend, to stand in his corner. Give him that advantage. I made sure to be available to him as much as I possibly could be, but not to smother him.”

“How did you strike that balance?”

“I’m pretty good at reading people, especially people I know well. I was very alert for any signs he wanted time on his own, or that he didn’t want me around. But I never got any. He seemed genuinely glad that I was there, on the tour.”

“What about in London?”

“I had made up my mind not to attempt to woo him until the press tour was over, but after the London premiere, all bets were off. I set out to win his heart and hand in that two weeks, and I’m still on that mission. I’m not going to stop until he’s mine, Mary. I won’t.”

“What did you do?”

“What didn’t we do? I suppose the most notable thing was when I took him to Paris for the evening.”

“Paris?”

“Yes. He’s a hedonistic little thing, and expressed to me once that he liked authentic crepes. It was just the work of a couple of phone calls to make arrangements to fly across the channel for dinner, then have crepes after. God, I nearly fucking kissed him again under the moonlight that night, with the Eiffel tower in the background. Took nearly all my willpower not to.”

Mary raised an eyebrow. “Again?”

“Hmm?”

“You said ‘kiss him again’.”

“Ah, yeah. On one of our dates, I took him to lunch, then for a stroll in the park. We fed the ducks, then sat on the bench together, holding hands. I kissed him. It just felt right. Boy, did it ever feel fucking right.”

“What did he say to that?”

Crowley sighed, remembering the moment clearly. “He was enjoying himself, I could tell. He was kissing me back. To be perfectly honest, Mary, I’ve never had a kiss affect me like that. I nearly forgot where we were. But I suddenly remembered and broke the kiss, telling him we were making a scene. I thought, with the way he’d been kissing me, that he would suggest going back to his place or mine. But he flushed and sat back from me and told me no. ‘You go too fast for me, Crowley’, he said.” Crowley sighed again, feeling the disappointment from that moment wash over him all over again. But with it came a smile.

“You’re smiling,” Mary answered.

“You would be too, if you’d kissed him.”

“I would have expected getting shut down like that to frustrate or anger you, but you’re smiling. Why?”

“Because it means I’m on the right track, yeah? He didn’t say ‘I don’t want this’ or ‘don’t ever kiss me again’ or anything like that. His objection wasn’t to the action, it was to the speed. Does that make sense? You were right last time - I just need to take it slow. And I can. For that angel, I certainly can.”

“So what’s next?”

“We’re going to a Halloween party tomorrow night, then going back to his flat to watch films. I can’t wait.”

Mary regarded him for a moment, her brow furrowed as if thinking about something. Then she said, “I have a question for you, but you’re not going to like it.”

“Go ahead and ask it. I’m on top of the world.”

“What happens when this all ends?”

Crowley gave her a questioning look. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, this relationship,” she put ‘relationship’ in air quotes, which annoyed Crowley slightly - “was only supposed to last for three months. It’s already been two. What happens when the three-month mark rolls around and the time comes to end it?”

“Not gonna happen,” Crowley answered confidently. “Beezle said as long as it was working, we could keep it up. And it’s definitely working.”

“Okay, so you may not have any interference from your home offices. But what if Aziraphale is just biding his time until the three months is up to break things off himself?” Crowley was silent, having never considered this, and Mary went on. “What if he’s been acting? What if he only did this to improve his career?”

“Well of course that’s how it started,” Crowley snapped. “We both started this to improve our careers. But it’s different now.”

“What if it’s not?” she insisted. “What if that’s still his motivation?”

“You were right. I don’t fucking like these questions,” he grumbled.

“I’m sorry, but I think these are possibilities you need to consider. What if he’s just acting?”

Crowley did a mental recall of all the time he’d spent with Aziraphale - particularly over the last few weeks. Every smile, every caress of the thumb along his, every glance that was almost-but-not-quite heated. And that kiss, that perfect kiss…

“You’re wrong. You’d have to see us together to see it, but he’s not acting. No one could fake that reaction to a kiss.”

“Okay,” Mary said, raising her hands in a gesture of surrender. “You’re the expert on your relationship. But it would have been irresponsible for me not to at least bring it up. I know I’ve made you uncomfortable, and I’m sorry for that, but my job is not to make you comfortable, it’s to make you think. And I believe you need to consider the possibility - however remote - that you have misread the situation.”

“I haven’t, I really haven’t. You’ll just have to trust me.”

When he left Mary’s office twenty minutes later, he did so feeling lighter. There was nothing to Mary’s questions and he was supremely confident that Aziraphale wanted him. It was just a matter of time, and the angel would be his. Crowley could almost taste it.

Chapter Text

October 31, 2019

They were laughing as they crossed the threshold into Aziraphale’s apartment - one of Crowley’s wings had thwacked Aziraphale in the head… again. They’d been whacking each other all evening with their angel and demon wings (white for Crowley the angel, black for Aziraphale the demon), and what had started out as an annoyance had turned into something silly to be laughed at. It had never occurred to them to take the wings off. Crowley was glad - laughing with Aziraphale was nothing short of heavenly.

Aziraphale breezed into his flat, leaving Crowley at the door to shut it, which he did.

“I have a couple of bottles of wine that I chilled just for tonight,” Aziraphale was calling over his shoulder as he made his way into the kitchen. Crowley was warmed - not so much by the offer, but by the way Aziraphale seemed to accept him in his space.

“Wine sounds good, angel,” Crowley called in response, then removed his wings and laid them on a stack of books near the door where he’d see them when it was time to go. Out of growing habit, he slid his sunglasses off and tucked them into the pocket of his white suit jacket. For a half a second, he thought about leaving the wings at Aziraphale’s on purpose, just so he’d have an excuse to return and get them, but he brushed aside the idea. Things were going remarkably well between them. He’d be invited back, he knew it. There was no need to manufacture circumstances.

From the kitchen, he heard a small crash, then Aziraphale muttered, “Bloody wings are a menace.” Crowley couldn’t help a little chuckle.

He was waiting on the couch in his usual spot when Aziraphale returned, a vision in all black with arms and hands full of two wine glasses, two bottles of wine, a corkscrew... and no wings. He was smiling brightly, and Crowley smiled back.

“Need some help there?”

“No, no. I’ve got it,” Aziraphale shooed him away, sitting gingerly in his place on the sofa and unloading his wine and glasses. Crowley watched him as he opened the bottle with ease and poured each of them a generous measure. When Aziraphale offered him a glass, he accepted with another smile, but waited to take a sip in case Aziraphale wanted to toast anything.

Turned out, he did. He raised his glass and Crowley followed suit. “To angels and demons,” he said with a cheeky grin. “May they always get along as well as these two do.”

“Hear, hear,” Crowley said with a chuckle, then clinked glasses.

Aziraphale swallowed his wine and looked curiously at Crowley. It was the look he always got before he asked a random question, and it excited and terrified Crowley in equal measure.

“What?”

“I was just wondering why we always come here.”

“Because you live here, angel.”

“Oh, very funny,” he deadpanned. “I’m serious. We never go to your place. Why is that?”

Crowley shrugged. “No reason, really. I’ve never given much thought to it, but I don’t think you’d like my house. It’s much different from yours.”

Aziraphale took another sip of his wine. “How so?”

“It’s not as cozy, for one thing. I gave the decorator free rein to do whatever she wanted, and it’s very trendy and minimalist. There aren’t many decorations to speak of - it’s rather bland, actually. Large and empty.”

“Oh, I can’t imagine anything about you ever being bland.”

“No, really. It’s very bare. The only real warm touches are the plants. Your apartment is much cozier.”

Aziraphale looked interested. “You have plants?”

“Yeah, you didn’t know that?”

“How on earth would I know, dear? I’ve never been to your house.”

“Fair point. Yes, I raise plants.”

“How lovely! Any particular type?”

Crowley gave a one-shoulder shrug. “Not really - just whatever plant I find that looks like it has potential. I bring them home and whip them into shape.”

One blond eyebrow went up. “Whip them into shape?”

“Well, you know that talking to plants helps them to grow, right?”

“Yes.”

“And you’ve probably seen the science experiment that proved plants grow better to angry, heavy metal music as opposed to something softer, like classical music?”

“I’ve heard something along those lines, yes.”

“Well, I kind of combined the two concepts. I talk to them, but I berate them. Speak angrily to them.”

Aziraphale’s face was a mask of shocked amusement. “You do what?”

“I yell at my plants.”

“Does it work?”

Crowley puffed up a little. “I’ve got the most lush, verdant plants you’ll find outside of a high-end nursery,” he bragged.

“And you just… verbally abuse them?”

“Not… exactly. They’re very well-cared-for. I just tend to vent my frustrations on them. Shout about things that have upset me until I’m not upset anymore.”

Aziraphale shook his head, laughing. “Only you, dear. Only you.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Crowley demanded, but he was grinning.

“Only that you are a fount of delightful surprises. When can I see them?”

Crowley was taken aback. “You want to?”

“Of course I do. You’re obviously very proud of them, I’d love to see them.”

“We can go to my house after dinner tomorrow, if you’d like.”

Aziraphale smiled over the rim of his wine glass. “I’d like that very much.”

Crowley swallowed hard, then sloshed a sip of wine into his suddenly dry mouth. Aziraphale in his house was the stuff fantasies were made of. The only problem was that once he got him there, he was going to want to keep him there forever. Bloody hell, what had he done?

“Shall we start a film?” he suggested, willing his mind away from the mental image of Aziraphale spread out on his silk sheets.

“Yes, lets. I suppose you’d like to watch a thriller?”

“Well it is Halloween,” Crowley replied, amused.

“Quite right. Hmm…” He used the small remote to flip around Netflix’s horror offerings. “What do you think? Vampires or a slasher film?”

“Why not both? The night is young. But let’s start with vampires.”

“Sounds good. Vampires it is.” Aziraphale started the film and refilled his empty wine glass, then sat back in his seat. Crowley relaxed and opened his posture, laying his right arm across the back of the couch towards Aziraphale. They’d never cuddled, but Crowley surprised himself by wanting very much to do so, and hoped the invitation was clear.

They talked a little during the movie, making little comments about situations or characters, occasionally refilling their wine glasses. Crowley noticed that Aziraphale was inching nearer as the film wore on: every time he leaned forward to refill his wine, when he settled back into the couch, he settled just a little closer to Crowley, until Crowley’s arm was around him and he was able to draw little patterns and shapes with his fingertips on the black fabric that covered Aziraphale’s shoulder. He may have even written his name in a silent, invisible mark of possession, but wasn’t about to tell if he had.

This close to him, Crowley could smell Aziraphale, his cologne clean and a little spicy, and his eyes nearly rolled back in his head with pleasure. He wanted to bury his face in his angel’s neck and just drown in that scent, but did his best to play it cool. It wouldn’t do to terrify Aziraphale and ruin everything.

By the time the movie ended, Aziraphale was all but snuggling him. The angel sat up, retrieving the remote and refilling the wineglass again, and finally - finally - gave up the pretense when he sat back down and nuzzled into Crowley’s side. Crowley also gave up his flimsy pretense and let his arm drape around Aziraphale.

“What next?” Aziraphale asked, aiming the remote at the screen. “Zombies or a slasher film?”

“Slasher films are scarier,” Crowley pointed out, now trailing his fingertips up and down Aziraphale’s side, over his black waistcoat.

“Hmm, that’s true. I’m worried it may be a bit too scary, though.”

Crowley chuckled and dropped a kiss that seemed absent (but was anything but) on the top of Aziraphale’s head. “I’ll protect you, angel. Don’t worry.”

Aziraphale smiled up at him radiantly. “I know you will,” he murmured, and Crowley nearly kissed the breath out of him right then. Christ. He didn’t know how much longer he could hold out.

The blond man started the film, leaning forward to drop the remote on the table and draining his glass again. Crowley took a minute to be mildly surprised by the fact that they'd nearly finished the second bottle - and he’d only had three glasses - but dismissed any concern he may have had. If that’s what it took to make the angel comfortable with being this close to him, that was fine. Aziraphale wasn’t slurring or anything, so he wasn’t worried.

After he’d drained his glass again, Aziraphale sat it down on the coffee table and burrowed back into Crowley’s side. Crowley couldn’t help the happy sigh that escaped. He’d never been particularly demonstrative in past relationships, and cuddling was something that sometimes happened for a few minutes after sex, until the afterglow wore off. But here, now, with Aziraphale… it was like his body craved the nearness. He’d have been perfectly happy to hold Aziraphale this way until the end times - and beyond. And with the way he had his head resting on Crowley’s shoulder, Crowley was really starting to believe that Aziraphale felt the same.

The movie was about a group of teenagers in a cabin in the woods - pretty typical, really. Aziraphale jumped at the first murder and nuzzled closer, and Crowley (of course) welcomed him. If that was the response an on-screen murder got, he hoped everyone in the cabin died.

About a third of the way through the movie, for some unknowable reason, the lead couple started slow dancing in the living room of the cabin while the murderer lurked outside. Crowley scoffed at the logic.

“What?” asked Aziraphale.

“It’s just daft, isn’t it? If you and I were stuck in a cabin with a murdering psycho stalking us, I don’t think I’d be taking the time to have a slow dance.”

“You wouldn’t want to dance with me, anyway. I’m a miserable dancer. Can only do the gavotte.”

“What’s the gavotte?”

“Nevermind. Point is, I can’t dance.”

Anyone can slow dance, angel.”

“I’m afraid I must disappoint you, dearest. I can’t dance.”

“You can, and I’ll prove it. Here, get up.”

Crowley dislodged himself from around Aziraphale, then got to his feet. The blond man just blinked at him, then cracked a smile. He leaned forward to grab the remote and pause the film, then took Crowley’s offered hand and got somewhat unsteadily to his feet. But that was alright. Crowley felt a little unsteady in the moment, given what they were about to do.

“Have you got any music, angel?”

“Oh. Erm…”

“Nevermind. I’ve got it.” He pulled out his mobile and unlocked it, opening up Spotify and searching quickly. Once he had what he wanted, he pressed play and dropped the phone to the couch where it played softly.

That done, he smirked at Aziraphale, who was blushing quite becomingly. “Ready?”

“I’m terribly afraid I’m going to disappoint you.”

“You won’t, I promise. Just put your arms around me and let me lead you.”

Aziraphale obeyed, raising his black-clad arms and draping them around Crowley’s neck. Crowley gently, so gently, put his hands on his angel’s hips, pulling him closer, until their bodies were mere inches apart. He kept his eyes locked on Aziraphale’s blue eyes, watching for any sign of distress, but got none. Aziraphale was looking at him with soft wonder and - Crowley dared to hope - love.

He started to sway them gently, back and forth, his eyes never leaving Aziraphale’s. “You alright?”

He nodded. “I’m perfect.”

Oh, he most certainly was. Absolutely perfect in every way.

Crowley realized fully, in that moment, that he was arse over teakettle in love. He would never want another person for the rest of his life. Aziraphale was all he’d ever want - or need.

The enormity of the realization made his eyes prickle. To cover it, he pulled Aziraphale a little closer and buried his face in the blond man’s shoulder. The angel’s sweet scent nearly overwhelmed him and he moaned a little, flexing his fingers in Aziraphale’s soft hips.

A few seconds later, just when he was starting to think he’d gathered himself and could raise his head, he felt Aziraphale’s face come down on his shoulder. He could feel the soft, warm puffs of his angel’s breath against his neck, and he prayed for the first time since childhood.

Please, God, let this be real. Let him want me as much as I want him. Let him love me. Please.

They swayed silently, letting the soft music surround them and cocoon them in the moment. Crowley was in love. He was in love! Bloody hell, what the fuck was he supposed to do now?

He started a little when he felt something brush against the skin of his neck, so lightly he might have imagined it. He was just about to brush the whole thing off when he felt Aziraphale’s fingers playing with the little hairs at the nape of his neck. He shivered and held Aziraphale closer, pulling their bodies flush, despite the growing bulge in his light trousers.

Then he felt a brush against his neck again, and this time he knew it wasn’t his imagination. Those were Aziraphale’s lips.

Like lightning, he debated his options with himself. He knew that Aziraphale had a bit to drink, but he didn't seem drunk. It seemed as if he’d had just enough to lower his inhibitions - and Crowley was thrilled. But should he let the night go where it wanted? The memory of their last kiss in the park was still fresh - and the sting of the rejection he’d felt. He very much didn’t want to feel that again. So he decided to follow Aziraphale’s lead.

Aziraphale’s lips were on Crowley’s neck again, this time opening and closing slightly, almost nibbling. Crowley gripped his hips even harder, certain now that Aziraphale would be able to feel the effect this was having on him, but unable to care anymore. His want was rapidly becoming need, and he didn’t know how long he could hold on.

Deciding that turnabout was fair play (and that he’d waited long enough to taste his angel’s skin), he pressed a soft, open-mouth kiss to the column of Aziraphale’s neck. He tasted as good as he smelled, and Crowley knew he was an instant addict. He’d never get enough of Aziraphale’s taste. Ever.

Aziraphale made a small noise, almost a whimper, and Crowley did it again. Feeling daring, he used his grip on Aziraphale’s hips to pull them even closer together, knowing there would be no way to hide his desire. But he didn’t want to hide. Not anymore.

He felt a thrill like a pulse of electricity when he felt Aziraphale’s cock hard against him.

Crowley continued to kiss his angel’s neck, his nose nestled in those white-blond curls, letting his hands wander a bit. He was so soft, so fucking soft, and Crowley wanted to curl up inside him forever. His heart pounding, he slid one hand down to Aziraphale’s arse, gently caressing at first, then giving a little squeeze. Aziraphale gasped against his throat and Crowley smiled.

Very slowly, very subtly, he felt Aziraphale’s hips roll forward, softly grinding his cock against Crowley’s. The friction, although light, was delicious and Crowley squeezed his arse again. He met the roll with one of his own, and why the hell did they have so many clothes on?

“Crowley,” Aziraphale moaned softly against his skin. “Oh, Crowley.

Crowley was at his breaking point. He pressed one last kiss to Aziraphale’s neck and raised his head. “Aziraphale. Look at me.”

The other man raised his downy head, and Crowley was pleased to see his eyes were glossy with desire. His lips were shining and swollen from the kisses he’d been laying on Crowley’s skin, and his expression was almost bleary with lust. Crowley was absolutely sure his face looked the exact same way.

“Do you want me?” he asked, his voice barely more than a whisper and trembling with repressed emotion.

Aziraphale swallowed, then nodded, his wide eyes never leaving Crowley’s.

Crowley squeezed him a little tighter, he just couldn’t help it.

“Are you sure? Please be sure, angel.”

“I’ve never been so sure about anything. I want you so much…”

Crowley broke then, clutching Aziraphale as tightly to himself as he could and covering his mouth with his own, kissing him greedily, triumphantly.

~*~O~*~

November 1, 2019

Aziraphale swam up from sleep slowly, completely disoriented and with a pounding headache behind his eyes. He was warm, though, and comfortable, even if he apparently had a hangover. He felt safe and… loved. It was a glorious feeling, and he settled into it with a happy little sound, despite his headache. He and Crowley must have really indulged --

Crowley.

He stiffened, every muscle in his body tightening, and tried to remember…

Slow dancing with Crowley in the lounge, bodies pressed together, Crowley asking him if he was sure. Aziraphale said yes, and suddenly they were kissing as if they’d invented it.

Missing footage.

Both of them working frantically at each other’s clothes, desperate for more skin, more touch, more everything, their mouths never leaving each other while they stumbled backwards into Aziraphale’s bedroom.

Missing footage.

Finally, they’re naked, and he is worshiping Crowley’s body eagerly with slow licks and nibbles. Aziraphale is moaning like a tart and begging for more, then his mouth envelops Crowley’s cock...

Missing footage.

They’re lying facing each other, utterly nude, masturbating each other, and he’s not sure who comes first and frankly doesn’t care as he releases all over Crowley’s hand and belly, his name on his lips…

That was it. That was all he had. And it was more than enough. Oh, God, what had he done?

There was a stirring behind him, and he was suddenly aware of Crowley’s arms wrapped around him - one pillowing his neck and one around his waist. Had he even slept in his arms? Oh no, oh no.

Crowley started sprinkling kisses across Aziraphale’s bare shoulder, and he could feel his lips curl into a smile.

“Good morning, my angel.”

In a flash, Aziraphale was out of the bed, standing beside it, but he’d stood up too fast. His head swam and pounded, and he was forced to sit back down. Oh, why did he drink so much wine?

He felt Crowley’s hands come up to his shoulders from behind him and in a worried voice, Crowley asked, “Are you alright, Aziraphale?”

A little more steady now, he got to his feet again as quickly as he could, away from Crowley’s touch, and started looking for his clothes immediately.

Crowley was sitting up in the bed, bare chested, his tattoo on display, sheets and blankets pooled around his waist. His face was a mask of confusion. “What’s wrong?”

“What’s wrong? What’s wrong?” Aziraphale gave a harsh, mirthless laugh. “This is what’s wrong!”

“I don’t understand. Did I do something?”

“You seduced me!” Aziraphale shouted, his head throbbing painfully at the loud noise.

“You said you wanted me!”

“I was drunk!” He didn’t look up to see Crowley’s stricken expression. Aziraphale was struggling with the buttons on his shirt - and with his own thoughts. His brain was fuzzy and he couldn’t think. “Whether I wanted you or not is irrelevant. Really, dear, this is a bit beyond the pale. There’s a point where playing a part and method acting are no longer excuses for this kind of behavior.”

Crowley stiffened. “Method acting?”

“Yes. What you’ve been doing for the last two months.”

“You think I’ve been acting?”

“Of course you were acting! And oh, I fell for it, too. Poor, stupid, naive Aziraphale, believing the lies of a skilled performer. I believed you all the way into my bed! But I should have known better. I could understand the kissing, but sleeping with me? Have you no shame?”

Crowley stared at him, agape, then threw off the covers and jumped out of the opposite side of the bed, snatching up his pants and shoving his legs in. Aziraphale had a hard time not staring appreciatively, but looked away. Crowley was not his and despite what had happened last night, never would be. Oh, he’d been such a fool. Tears pricked his eyes and he tried to blink them back.

“I can’t believe you. I just can’t fucking believe you.” Crowley shook his head violently and picked up his shirt. “You just.. you think I’d… oh fuck it. I’m leaving. But I’ll be back. We need to talk.”

With that, he stormed out of the bedroom into the lounge, where Aziraphale heard him rustle for a minute - probably looking for his glasses - then the front door slammed. He stood in his silent room beside his rumpled bed and listened hard - for what, he didn’t know. When he was finally sure that Crowley was gone, he sank down onto the side of the bed and cried, his face buried in his hands.

Chapter Text

November 1, 2019

Crowley drove like a bat out of hell from Aziraphale’s flat to his house, muttering and swearing the whole way, occasionally hitting the steering wheel with the heel of his hand. He was furious, in disbelief, and buried under that, he was deeply, deeply hurt. How could Aziraphale possibly think -- no. Crowley couldn’t let himself dwell on that right now, or he’d crash.

He made it home and let himself in, still mumbling and muttering, and went to change out of his angel clothes immediately. Wearing something that reminded him of Aziraphale so powerfully was not a good idea right now.

Once he was in his own, familiar attire, he tried to figure out his next steps. He needed to talk to Aziraphale, certainly, but not just yet. He was entirely too angry at the moment and needed to sort out his thoughts. But how?

He checked his watch to see the time - it was just before eight. Mary didn’t start office hours until nine, but this was an emergency. He pulled out his mobile and texted her.

Crowley - need 2 c u asap. got an emergency
Mary - are you safe?
Crowley - yes but need 2 c u. now.
Mary - meet me @ the office in an hour

Okay. Good. A plan. But Crowley was still seething, his mind still whirling, and an hour was a long time away. He could eat (and supposed he should), but the thought of food turned his stomach. How to kill an hour?

He almost smiled when it occurred to him. His plants. He’d vent his spleen on his plants for awhile, and maybe he’d feel better.

Forty minutes later, after terrorizing his greenery and nearly shouting himself hoarse, he didn’t feel any better. If anything, he felt worse because anger was giving way to something like heartbreak. With a frustrated huff, he left his house to go meet Mary.

She was waiting for him when he got there, the look on her face concerned. Her concern should have made him feel better, but it just rankled him. He was too angry and despondent to feel anything else at the moment. He brushed past her into her office, letting her shut the door while he paced in front of the couch.

“What happened?” she asked without preamble. “I just saw you three days ago and you were fine.”

“We slept together.”

Her eyes widened. “You and Aziraphale?”

“Yeah.”

“Sit down, Crowley.”

“Can’t sit down. I’ll explode if I don’t keep moving.”

Mary settled herself into her seat. “I must not be understanding. I thought that was what you wanted? To be with Aziraphale?”

“It was! It is!”

“Then what’s the problem?”

Crowley huffed. “Do you remember the other day when you cautioned me that he may just be playing a role, that this may not be real for him?”

“Yes…”

“Well, it turns out, that’s what he thought about me!” he spat, gesturing forcefully at himself. “He thinks this was all a charade! He thinks I’ve been acting all along!”

Mary held up her hand. “Okay. Slow down a bit, maybe have a seat. We can talk this through and come up with a plan.”

“Can't sit down. Need to move,” he answered shortly, still pacing.

Mary didn’t argue. “Okay, tell me what happened. The last I saw you, you were preparing to go to a Halloween party. Did you go?”

“Yes. I picked him up at his flat and we went to the party. We held hands the whole time we were there and I stole a couple of kisses on his cheek. Just… impulsive moments I couldn’t help. He didn’t seem to mind. Everyone was remarking on us, about how fucking cute it was that we were in a couple’s costume. Even I thought it was cute and I fucking hate cute!”

“Did something happen at the party?”

Crowley dragged his hands through his hair for the hundredth time. “No. We left after an hour or so, since Aziraphale doesn’t like parties all that much. After the party, we went back to his flat, as planned, to watch scary movies.”

“Okay…”

He was still pacing, reliving every moment of the night before. “It was perfect. I couldn’t have constructed a better situation if I’d fucking tried. We sat on his couch and drank wine, and as the evening wore on, he slid closer and closer to me, until finally, we were cuddled together. It was perfect, Mary. I felt things holding him that way that I’d never felt before.”

“Like what?”

Crowley sighed and finally plopped down onto the couch, although not in his usual sprawl. His elbows rested on his knees and his head was pitched forward while he remembered exactly what holding Aziraphale had made him feel - and tried to put it into words.

“It was peaceful. Tranquil. I was… I was happy. That’s a trite word, but it’s all I can come up with. I was fucking happy. I could have held him like that for the rest of my fucking life and never asked for anything more. It was… it was heaven.”

Mary was quiet a moment, then asked, “What happened next?”

“In the film, there was a scene where the couple slow danced.”

“In a horror film?”

“Yes. We laughed a bit about the impracticality of stopping for a slow dance while a murderer was in the middle of a spree. He commented that he couldn’t dance, and I saw my opportunity. We stood up, I took him in my arms, and the next thing I knew, he was kissing my neck. I asked him if he was sure, and he said yes. Very shortly after that we were… um…” He stopped himself, remembering his audience. “We were in bed together.”

Mary didn’t seem fazed. “This is terribly personal but I have to ask… did something… unfortunate happen during the sex?”

“No! It was great, absolutely wonderful. Afterwards, we curled up together, and I held him all night. It was this morning when things fucking fell apart.”

“What happened this morning?”

Crowley sighed again, remembering. “I woke up before he did, and he was still in my arms. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. I really did. I wouldn’t have moved if my life had depended on it, and I just lay there, curled around him, planning a future with him. Because we were finally together, right? He started to stir and I was kissing him. I thought - never mind what I thought. But he went stiff as a board then jumped out of bed like I’d burned him.”

“What did he say?” Mary asked gently.

He could remember every word, every expression on Airaphale’s face, every cursed moment of those few minutes. They had been among the worst of his life. Remembering now, he swiped at his wet eyes in frustration.

“He said that me sleeping with him was ‘beyond the pale’, and that there were certain things you shouldn’t do for a part. He said he’d been drunk, and stopped just short of saying I’d taken advantage of him. But the upshot of the whole fucking thing is that he thought I’d been acting this whole time.”

“What did you say?”

“I don’t - I don’t entirely remember. I don’t think I said much. I was angry, absolutely furious, and I knew I wasn’t in a good place to talk right then. So I put on my clothes and left. I did tell him that I’d be back to talk before I stormed out.”

Mary was quiet again, and Crowley wished she would speak. With her silence, there was nothing to fill his mind except the memory of this awful morning, and he was reliving it over and over. He squeezed his eyes shut and fat tears rolled down both cheeks unchecked.

“So what do you think of all this? Obviously, it’s very upsetting.”

Crowley sniffed. “Yeah. You could say that.”

“What are you thinking right now?”

“I’m stunned. I’m absolutely stunned that he could believe that about me. That he could believe I would ever be capable of toying with him like that. I mean, is that what he thinks of me? Truly? I bared my soul to this man, more than I’ve ever bared myself to anyone else in years, and he didn’t even believe me.” Another tear rolled down his cheek and he swiped it angrily.

“So you’re feeling… what? Invalidated?”

“Maybe. Yeah. I guess. I’m feeling a lot of things right now, to be honest. On one hand, I want to throttle him. On the other, I want to kiss him for hours and hours until he never doubts me or my love again.”

“Is that what this is? Do you love him?”

Crowley nodded. “More than anything,” he whispered.

“So what are you going to do with this situation you find yourself in?”

“I have to go to him, I have to make him understand.”

“How do you intend to do that?’

“Honestly, I have no fucking clue.”

“May I make a suggestion?”

“That’s what I pay you for,” he quipped dully.

Mary ignored the snark. “I’ve been a counselor for over a decade, and I’ve been a person for thirty some-odd years. It’s been my experience that nearly every interpersonal conflict can be resolved by applying empathy and honesty.”

“I’ve been honest!” he burst out.

“I know, I know you have,” she soothed him. “That’s where empathy comes in. Say you’re Aziraphale. Your boss tells you to start dating a famous actor with a love-em-and-leave-em reputation, but that you’re going to break up in three months. I haven’t met your Aziraphale, but you’ve told me a fair amount about him, and I gather that for an actor, he’s fairly insecure. I’d bet anything he wondered why you’d agree to something like that. And didn’t you say he tends to be a wallflower?”

“Yeah.”

“Wallflowers, by their very definition, don’t attract a lot of attention. So when you started flirting with him, he was likely wondering why. Being that you’re an actor, the most obvious answer would be that you didn’t actually want him, that you were playing a part.”

“Do you really think that’s what happened?” he asked, wondering.

“I think it’s likely. I could be wrong, especially since I don’t know Aziraphale, but I have known a lot of people like him. It’s my educated guess.”

Crowley absorbed this for a moment, then asked, “So what do I do?”

“Give him a little time to sort his own feelings - he’s clearly having some, the same as you. Let him process a bit, then go to him.”

“And say what?”

“Tell him the absolute truth. Tell him how you feel. Tell him exactly how you feel - including that you love him, if you feel like you can.”

Crowley shook his head. “That may scare him.”

“Then keep that bit under your hat for now, but tell him everything else. Be completely open.”

“What if he still doesn’t believe me?”

“I think he will. It may take a little convincing, but I think he will. If he doesn’t, you can come back and we’ll talk it out then, okay?”

He wasn’t sure he’d be coming back if Aziraphale rejected him again. He’d be more likely in a bar somewhere, drinking all the alcohol money could buy. But he nodded.

“How long should I give him?”

Mary shrugged. “A day or so. Not long.”

A day sounded like an eternity right now. He wasn’t sure he’d be able to hold out.

“Thank you, Mary.”

“You’re welcome. Just remember - empathy and honesty.”

“Empathy and honesty. Got it.”

He left her office and went to his car, unsure where to go. He felt a bit better after talking to Mary, but he still needed to clear his head. Nothing cleared his mind better than driving his Bentley, but he supposed his Aston Martin would do in a pinch. He cranked the car and pulled out of the lot, headed for the Pacific Coast Highway.

~*~O~*~

After allowing himself a good cry, Aziraphale got up and did his best to square his shoulders. He was only wearing his trousers and a half-buttoned shirt, so he decided to dress himself as if it were any normal day, and not the worst day of his life. He considered taking a shower, but couldn’t bring himself to do it. It felt like if he did, he’d be washing away all the evidence of his night with Crowley and although it shouldn’t have happened at all, he couldn’t bear the thought of washing Crowley’s touches down the drain. Likewise, he couldn’t bring himself to make the bed. That could wait until later. For the moment, he needed painkillers and water.

Once he’d taken two little white pills for his headache, he wandered into the lounge and stared at the couch. Just twelve hours ago, he’d been snuggled on that couch with his beloved, the man of his dreams. It had been the most perfect evening, but he’d had to get drunk and lose control of himself. He’d behaved like trollop, completely wanton, throwing himself at Crowley. Stupid! Now it was all over, four weeks before it was supposed to end, and he felt like a prime fool.

Tears pricked his eyes again and he did his best to blink them back. Crying would do no good and would only make his headache worse. He should read. Yes, that would ease his mind.

He grabbed a book and sat down with it, opening it at random. Naturally, he’d picked up a book of love sonnets, and the words mocked him. He threw it across the room, too upset to give it the usual care he gave all his books, and grabbed another from beside the chair. This one was an anthology of Shakespeare’s tragedies. Like a wave, the memory of he and Crowley at the RSC production of Hamlet the week before washed over him: the way Crowley had smiled at him, the way his hand had fit inside Crowley’s, the way Crowley had acted with Fergus. Aziraphale, the fool, had actually begun to wonder if maybe he was showing some jealousy when they’d gone backstage. What an idiot he was. It had all been an act. All of it, an act. Why, Crowley wouldn’t even invite Aziraphale into his home! If this were real, he would have done so. It was just further evidence that this was all a sham.

And if there had been any doubt that it was an act, Crowley’s reaction to being called out this morning erased it all. If it had been real in any way, wouldn’t Crowley have done everything he could to try to convince him? But he hadn’t. He’d just left.

Tears pricked his eyes again and he let them fall.

Giving up the idea of reading for now (since his books seemed to be against him), he moved to the couch and lay down across it, his head at the end Crowley had sat on. It still smelled like him, and he let himself be washed away by memories for a few moments. The memories were warm, but still painful, too. He only wished he could remember more. He tried, he really did, but nothing more of their night together was coming to him. Curses and damnation, he thought. If he was only going to have one night with Crowley, the least his brain could do would be to let him remember it all!

Aziraphale lay there on the couch, tears leaking from the corners of his eyes for a long time. He replayed the events of this morning over and over, reliving that single, shining moment of being wrapped in Crowleys’ arms, feeling him press kisses to his shoulders. It was the most amazing feeling, and he could have lived like that forever. But the truth of the situation wouldn’t allow that, and he had to acknowledge reality.

He wasn’t sure how long he lay there, surrounded by Crowley’s scent, and didn’t realize he’d fallen asleep until he was jolted awake some time later. His headache was gone, but he was still miserable. It also occurred to him that he hadn’t eaten anything - but oddly, he wasn’t really hungry. Nevertheless, food had always made him feel better, so he peeled himself from the couch and went to the kitchen.

Half an hour later, he sat at his little kitchen table dispiritedly, staring at his plate of food with his fork idle in his hand. It tasted like sawdust, and he didn’t want it. He didn’t want anything but Crowley, and couldn’t imagine wanting anything ever again. Just Crowley.

They would talk again, and soon, Aziraphale was sure of it. There were still nearly four weeks to go in their little farce, and they couldn’t afford to appear awkward and stilted in public, they had to give the appearance of a perfectly happy couple. Aziraphale tried to steel himself for that conversation, as painful as it would be, and hoped they wouldn’t have to talk for a couple of days. He needed to lick his wounds, so to speak.

When he finally gave up trying to eat, he made his way back to the lounge and picked out a book, deliberating over the titles to pick one that would remind him of Crowley as little as possible. Finally, he settled on a mystery and settled in to read, hoping that would clear his mind. He had to read the same paragraphs over and over before they sank in, but plowed on. Anything to get his mind off of Crowley.

He was about fifty pages in when a knock came at the door.

Chapter Text

Aziraphale swallowed hard, getting to his feet and smoothing his clothes. That was Crowley’s knock, he’d know that cadence anywhere. He’d thought he’d have more time before he had to face Crowley and say the things they needed to say. He glanced over at the clock - it was just before seven. He’d only had eleven hours! He wasn’t ready!

The knock came again, more insistent this time, and Aziraphale nodded to himself. Ready or not, the moment was here. He could do this. He could tell Crowley clearly that they couldn’t do what they’d done again, and demand space. Then he could lick his wounds in private and pretend to be madly in love for the public. He could do this. Absolutely. He could.

The knocking came again, and this time it was the sound of a closed fist on the door. “Let me in, Aziraphale! We need to talk!”

Aziraphale pursed his lips and thought of his neighbors. Really, what would they say to Crowley banging on the door like that? They'd gossip and give him strange looks! Annoyance with Crowley drove out the anxiety for the moment, and Aziraphale squared his shoulders, marching over to the door to give Crowley a piece of his mind.

He threw open the door, but his admonishment of ‘Really, dear, must you?’ died on his lips when he got a look at Crowley. He looked as unkempt as Aziraphale had ever seen him, his clothes rumpled and hair wild. The expression on his face was desperate, and Aziraphale’s mind quickly switched to concern.

“Crowley, dear, are you alright?”

“Invite me in, Aziraphale.”

There was something to his voice, some quality that Aziraphale didn’t like. It sounded like he was barely restraining from… something. He was probably angry that their little sham couldn’t go on any longer. Yes, that was probably it.

Aziraphale gave a short nod with pursed lips. “Yes, you’re quite right. We need to talk. Do come in.”

He opened the door wider and stepped aside, letting Crowley in and closing it behind him. When he turned around, Crowley was shoving his glasses into his pocket and dragging his fingers through his hair with his free hand.

“I’m glad you came back,” Aziraphale started, brushing by him and into the flat, not looking back at him. “We have much to discuss.”

“Yeah,” Crowley agreed, his voice sounding choked. “We do.”

“I’m glad you agree. Well, I suppose there’s no - mmph!”

He was cut off by Crowley’s hand landing on his shoulder, turning him around, then the ginger man covering his mouth with his. Aziraphale stiffened, eyes wide and extremities stiff, but Crowley didn’t seem to notice or care. He pushed Aziraphale up against the wall, pinning him there with his body, his mouth moving desperately over Aziraphale’s closed lips.

He pulled back a second later, but didn’t go far. He started pressing kisses all over Aziraphale’s face, sweet, fervent kisses that Aziraphale didn’t understand. Finally, the fog lifted from his mind and he put his hands on Crowley’s shoulders, intent on pushing him back.

“My dear, we can’t. I won’t. My emotions simply can’t take it.”

“You’re so stupid, angel,” Crowley said, now cradling Aziraphale’s face and peppering it with kisses. “But you’re so clever. How can someone so clever be so stupid?”

Aziraphale stiffened again, becoming outraged. “Yes, you’ve proven that I’m stupid quite effectively. I fell for your act, like the fool I am. Now if you would please --”

“It wasn’t an act, Aziraphale,” Crowley interrupted, pulling back to look into his eyes. “It was all real.”

Aziraphale’s heart was pounding and his knees felt weak. “Please,” he begged, his voice a whisper. “Please don’t do this to me. Don’t toy with me this way.”

“Aziraphale, angel, that’s the last thing I want to do. I never want to hurt you. Ever. You - you’re everything to me.”

“Crowley…”

“It started as a fake, yes. That was the plan. But from the moment I met you, I wanted you. Nothing I did - nothing - was acting. Every kiss, every touch... all real. I’m mad about you, you daft bastard.”

Crowley was smiling, a small, tentative thing, but Aziraphale couldn’t respond. He just stared blankly at his open, beautiful face.

“Say something, angel.”

“I don’t… you’re not… what?”

Crowley chuckled and dipped his head to press a sweet, soft kiss to Aziraphale’s lips. “You thought I was acting, that our entire relationship was just for show, but it wasn’t. Not to me. I find myself quite enamored with you.” Aziraphale blinked stupidly and Crowley smiled. “Tell me what it’ll take to make you believe me. Tell me, and I’ll do it. Anything you want, anything you need. I’ll do anything to prove to you what I feel.”

“What - what do you feel?”

He closed his eyes and leaned forward, sliding his soft lips over Aziraphale’s. Aziraphale closed his own eyes and melted into the kiss.

“Everything,” Crowley breathed against his mouth. “You’ve made me feel everything.”

Aziraphale whimpered, surrendering, and Crowley’s mouth was covering his again. Aziraphale’s arms went around Crowley, holding him close, and Crowley seemed only too happy to accommodate him. He pressed his weight against Aziraphale, his hands roaming, and Aziraphale was thrilled to feel his hardness.

They kissed for long moments, and Aziraphale wanted to cry with joy. He didn’t realize he was actually crying until Crowley broke the kiss and gave him a concerned look, his thumb trailing through the wet on Aziraphale’s cheek.

“What’s wrong, angel?”

“Nothing, nothing. I just… I’ve spent the last two months telling myself that you didn’t mean any of it, that it was all a performance.” He sniffed and swiped his other cheek. “I just… I can’t believe you actually want me.”

Crowley gave him a little smile that was achingly tender, brushing away another tear. “See why I said you were stupid? I’ve never wanted anything the way I want you. I’ve never felt this way. And while I appreciate your high opinion of my acting abilities, I couldn’t fake this if I tried. More than that, I wouldn’t. I’d never hurt you, Aziraphale. Not intentionally. I’m so sorry that I did.”

“I forgive you,” Aziraphale said at once. Then he paused. “Can you forgive me for being so completely obtuse? I should have known…”

“You made a logical conclusion given the circumstances,” Crowley said.

“Good. Now, kiss me again?”

He had just a glimpse of Crowley’s lopsided smile before they were kissing again, and Aziraphale’s heart soared. The kiss started out slow and gentle, but it was only a few moments before one or the other parted their lips and tongues made an appearance, seeking each other and exploring. Crowley’s hips rolled, grinding into him, and Aziraphale purred low in his throat. He brought his hands between them to push Crowley’s jacket off, absorbing the frustrated sound Crowley made when he had to let go of Aziraphale to get the jacket free of his arms. Aziraphale took advantage of the break to attack the V of flesh exposed by Crowley’s open shirt, licking and sucking and kissing ardently, his fingers working on the buttons. Crowley just clutched his shoulders and threw his head back. Aziraphale nipped his adam’s apple and made a low, growling sound.

When he got the shirt unbuttoned and pulled out of Crowley’s denims, he started to shove the shirt off, too, but Crowley stopped him.

“Wait, Aziraphale. Wait.”

“What’s wrong?”

“We did this last night and you regretted it. I don’t think I could fucking stand it if you regretted it a second time.”

“I won’t.”

Crowley looked torn. “How much have you had to drink today?” he asked shrewdly.

“Not a drop since last night. My mind is clear as a bell, dearheart, and I want this. I want this so bloody much.”

Crowley gave him an assessing look, then dipped forward and kissed his lips lightly. “Not here. Let’s go to the bedroom.”

Aziraphale gave him a brilliant smile. “After you.”

They separated and both shuffled quickly towards the bedroom, Crowley shucking his shirt and Azriaphale’s fingers flying to unbutton his waistcoat and shirt as he went, in a tearing hurry to get them off. He was stripped to his undershirt by the time they reached the bedroom and Crowley turned around to pull him back into his arms, covering his mouth with his. Their kiss was heated, passionate, and Aziraphale didn’t think he’d ever been so aroused in his life. His cock was diamond hard and leaking into his pants, and he wondered for the first time in his life if he could come just from kissing.

The next thing he knew, he and Crowley were sinking down onto the bed, arms wrapped around each other. Aziraphale heard two thuds and gathered that Crowley had kicked off his shoes - good idea. He followed suit.

Crowley grabbed fistfuls of his undershirt and started tugging, trying to get it off. Aziraphale broke away long enough to help, but before he got it over his head, Crowley had his hands splayed over his abdomen, kissing and nipping. Aziraphale immediately felt himself flush, looking down at his body - and Crowley worshiping it.

“You don’t have to --”

“Don’t have to what?” Crowley asked between kisses.

“I don’t exactly have the ideal body,” he started.

Crowley grinned up at him. “There you go being stupid again.”

“Hey!”

Those honey colored eyes just twinkled at him, and his mouth went to cover one of Aziraphale’s nipples, ringing it with his tongue. Aziraphale gasped, eyes locked on Crowley’s, his hands clenching in the bedding. Crowley suckled for a moment, then let go of Aziraphale’s nipple with a small pop.

“You’re gorgeous. The perfect embodiment of all my fantasies.”

“Really?”

“Christ, yes.” He lay more kisses all over Aziraphale’s torso, his hands stroking and caressing, and Aziraphale thought he might die of pleasure.

“You can touch me, angel,” Crowley said, his hands roaming Aziraphale’s soft torso. “I want you to.”

“I’m afraid you’ll disappear,” Aziraphale confessed. “I’m afraid this isn’t real.”

Crowley raised up to hover over Aziraphale, rubbing his still-clothed cock against Aziraphale’s, the bare skin of their chests brushing each other. “I’m real, Aziraphale. I’m as real as it gets.” He took Aziraphale’s hand and brought it between them, covering his cock with it. “Touch me, angel. Please.”

Aziraphale began to pump the cock in his hand through the denims and Crowley closed his eyes on a moan. “Christ, I can’t wait to feel your hand on me again.”

“I’m so glad I’m not drunk this time,” Aziraphale admitted. “I’ll get to remember every moment of this.”

Crowley opened his eyes, his pupils wide with lust, and gave him a crooked grin. “I intend to make this a night you never forget.”

He had no doubt that Crowley would do exactly that. With his free hand, he reached up and grabbed the back of Crowley’s head, pulling him down into a rough, needy kiss. Crowley kissed him back, rolling his hips and grinding his cock into Aziraphale’s hand urgently. Crowley whimpered when Aziraphale removed his hand from his cock and the other from the back of his ginger head, but swore under his breath when Aziraphale started working on Crowley’s belt. He broke the kiss and went up on his knees, fingers fumbling and tangling with Aziraphale’s as he sought to help. Suddenly released from Crowley’s weight on top of him, Aziraphale sat up and started pressing kisses to Crowley’s bare chest, his hands still working furiously to free him. When their combined efforts were successful, he helped Crowley shove his denims and pants down past his hips and his cock bobbed free. Aziraphale just stared at it for a minute, taking it in, thinking it to be, by far, the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen. A small jewel of moisture beaded at the tip, and Aziraphale licked his lips instinctively, wanting to taste.

“Don’t even think about it,” Crowley growled in that low and dangerous voice that made his toes curl.

“Think about what?”

“About sucking me off.”

Aziraphale was slightly hurt. “You don’t want me to?”

Crowley bent back to catch Aziraphale’s mouth, pressing him back into the bed. Azriaphle’s hurt was forgotten as he looped his arms around Crowley, welcoming his weight as they kissed deeply. He could feel Crowley squirming around to work off his denims, but didn’t stop kissing him. Didn’t even consider it.

At length, Crowley broke the kiss. “God, yes, I want you to, angel. Last night was the best blowjob of my life, and I can’t wait to do it again. But we have time - all the time in the world. Tonight… tonight, angel, I’m going to worship you, going to leave absolutely no doubt how much I want you.”

“You don’t have to --”

Crowley stopped his mouth with an abrupt kiss. “I want to. Let me. Yeah?”

Aziraphale was helpless to do anything but nod. Crowley grinned, pressed one last kiss to his lips, then raised up onto his knees again, this time, his hands working on Aziraphale’s belt and button. Aziraphale took the opportunity to gawp at Crowley, naked, flushed with arousal, his lean muscles rippling with the efforts of his motions. His magnificent cock was rock hard, curved upwards towards his belly, the head flushed purple. Aziraphale’s mouth watered again, but he lay still while Crowley worked his button and zip impatiently, raising his hips obligingly when Crowley finally got his trousers undone and started to drag them down. Crowley didn’t stop pulling his pants and trousers down until they were free of his feet, and then took a second to pull of Aziraphale’s socks - and his own. Finally - finally - they were both gloriously naked.

He reached for Crowley, but the ginger man shook his head at him. “I’ll get there. Don’t worry. You just lay there and let me worship you.”

And worship Aziraphale, Crowley did. He started by kissing the tops of Aziraphale’s feet, then his ankles, then trailed kisses up each calf. His hands were restless, smoothing all over Aziraphale, but never touching where he was aching for him.

“Crowley, my darling, please...”

“Please what, angel?” Crowley teased, tracing a little pattern over Aziraphale’s kneecap with his tongue that shouldn’t have been erotic but somehow was.

“I need you.”

“You’ll have me, but I’m not through yet. Little longer.”

Aziraphale bit his lip and watched as Crowley continued his slow, worshipful journey up Aziraphale’s body. He situated himself between Aziraphale’s thick thighs, spreading his legs a bit and pressing open-mouth kisses to the insides.

“You’re so gorgeous,” Crowley praised him between kisses, his hands gripping the flesh of his thighs. “So fucking beautiful.”

“I’m - I’m soft,” Aziraphale replied.

Crowley chuckled. “Yes, you are, but in all the best ways. I could touch you and kiss you forever and never get tired of your softness.” He nuzzled against Aziraphale’s bollocks, darting his tongue out to lick him, making Aziraphale cry out. Crowley chuckled again and kissed the spot he’d just licked. “You’re gorgeous, Aziraphale, every inch of you is perfect - and you’re all mine.”

A thrill shot up Aziraphale’s spine at his words, and Crowley finally wrapped his hand around Aziraphale’s cock. He moaned, dropping his head back onto the pillow, overcome with sensation.

“I mean, look at you,” Crowley went on, his voice like sin and dark chocolate. “Look how big and hard you are - and all for me. Right?”

“Yes, yes, it’s all for you, I’m all for you, just please, Crowley…”

“Your cock is just like you - thick and mouthwatering. I can’t wait to feel you filling me up, fucking me.”

“Oh, God,” Aziraphale moaned.

“Later. For tonight, I’m still making sure you understand how very, very much I want you.”

“I believe you! Just please…”

Crowley kissed the flushed head of Aziraphale’s cock. “Do you have lube?”

“Top - top drawer.”

He pressed one more kiss to the head of Aziraphale’s cock, then stretched to fish out the lubricant. Aziraphale took advantage of the opportunity to run his hands all over Crowley’s torso, placing fervent kisses on every inch of skin he could reach. In just a moment, Crowley had found what he was looking for and pulled himself out of Azirapahle’s reach, settling back between his spread thighs. He ran his tongue up the underside of Aziraphale’s cock and Aziraphale cried out, a broken sound that was torn from his chest.

“Please,” he begged. “Please, Crowley…”

Without any warning, Crowley opened his mouth and engulfed Aziraphale’s cock, making his back arch up off the bed as if he’d stepped on a live wire. Crowley wasn’t deterred, though, and set to work bobbing his head on Aziraphale’s cock, moaning around it as if he’d never tasted anything better. The vibrations ricocheted through Aziraphale and he fisted his hands in Crowley’s ginger hair. Crowley moaned harder.

It was a little bit of a surprise when he felt a slick finger probing his entrance - a very welcome surprise.

“This alright?” Crowley pulled off long enough to ask.

“God, yes, please…”

Crowley went back to sucking him eagerly, massaging his hole gently. The pressure increased until he felt Crowley’s finger breach him. Aziraphale held perfectly still and did his best to relax while Crowley worked his long, slender finger into his body. It seemed to only take a moment before Crowley found that spot and started massaging it, making Aziraphale’s hips shoot off the bed.

Fuck! Please, Crowley…”

Crowley ignored this plea and kept bobbing his head on Aziraphale’s cock, his finger still stroking inside him. Aziraphale’s hands in the ginger hair tightened, and this spurred Crowley on. He pumped his finger in and out, mimicking the act Aziraphale was dying for, and he whimpered when Crowley withdrew his finger. That whimper became a moan when he felt another finger join the first. After a moment, a third finger was added. The stretch was heavenly, exactly what Aziraphale needed - just this side of painful.

“Please, Crowley. Please fuck me.”

Crowley pulled his mouth off, but continued jacking him with one hand and fucking his arse with the other. “You don’t want to come this way?”

God yes. Aziraphale wanted to come that way. He wanted to come every way, but for now, he needed Crowley filling him, wrapped in his arms.

But he couldn’t get any of that out. All he could manage was another broken ‘please’. Thankfully, Crowley had mercy on him.

The lean, ginger man lay one more kiss to the head of Aziraphale’s cock, then got to his knees, fingers still buried in Aziraphale, and walked himself closer. Aziraphale watched hungrily as he opened the lube one-handed and dribbled some onto his cock, then directly onto the place his fingers were fucking Aziraphale. When he was finished, he snapped the top back on the lube and dropped it, using his hand to slick his cock. Aziraphale watched every move, his chest heaving with desire. Crowley slowly slid his fingers out, then positioned himself at Aziraphale’s entrance, propping himself over the desperate blond man with one arm.

“You ready, angel?”

“Yes, yes, please...”

Crowley stopped his pleas with a deep, filthy kiss, pressing himself forward. Aziraphale willed himself to relax and in just a moment, he felt the head of Crowley’s cock penetrate him. He whined into the kiss, clutching at Crowley, holding him flush to his body, craving all the contact he could get. Crowley pushed forward slowly, deliciously, until he was buried to the hilt inside Aziraphale. Aziraphale had never felt so full, so complete - not only physically, but emotionally. The love of his life was buried inside him and he could have died happy in that moment.

The kiss broke for a moment and Crowley looked down at him, his eyes concerned - and hazed with lust. “You alright?”

Aziraphale nodded eagerly. “I’m wonderful, Crowley. Don’t stop. Please fuck me.”

The red haired man groaned at his language, but complied, withdrawing his cock then sliding it back in slowly. Aziraphale clutched his shoulders, gasping against Crowley’s open mouth when the head of his cock dragged against his prostate.

“That good? I want to make this good for you, angel.”

“More, my darling. Fuck me harder. Faster.”

Crowley moaned again, but obliged, speeding up the roll of his hips against Aziraphale’s. He buried his face in Aziraphale’s shoulder, pressing urgent kisses to his neck as he fucked him, and Aziraphale panted for breath.

“Angel,” Crowley whined into his neck, his thrusts growing faster. “Feels so good, angel. You feel so good around me. Want this forever.”

“Yes, Crowley, you feel so good, your cock is perfect… fuck me, beloved. Claim me - I’m yours.”

Crowley groaned again and started snapping his hips almost viciously, every thrust stimulating Aziraphale from the inside, the slide of their bodies against each other stimulating his cock. Their bodies made a wet, slapping sound that Azriaphale found utterly erotic, and the force of Crowley’s thrusts was stealing his breath. He reached down and grabbed handfuls of Crowley’s bum, spreading his legs wider, taking him deeper.

“Yes, Crowley! Just like that! Fuck me harder! Yes!”

Crowley propped himself over Aziraphale, his brow dotted with sweat, a look of intense concentration on his face. “God, angel, you’re so gorgeous… make me so hot… gonna come soon…”

“Oh, please,” Aziraphale begged. “Please come inside me. Fuck me, beloved, and claim me.”

“Mine,” Crowley panted. “All mine. Only mine.”

“Yes! Only yours, always yours! Fuck! Please!”

“Close, angel… Come with me. Fucking hell! Please…”

Crowley slid his hand between their bodies and wrapped it around Aziraphale’s cock, pumping rhythmically, his grip firm and his strokes fast. Aziraphale cried out, finding himself on the edge, sensations threatening to overwhelm him.

“Come for me, Aziraphale. Come for me, come only for me.”

Aziraphale released, coming in a paroxysm of pleasure, his cock pulsing, splattering his belly and chest with come, every beat of his heart feeling like it was pulling pleasure from the very marrow of his bones. His vision whited out, Crowley’s name a praise on his lips, and he was dimly aware of Crowley shouting his name.

Chapter Text

Crowley was adrift on a cloud of bliss, his entire being focused down to the place he was joined with Aziraphale. He’d never felt anything quite as good as the sensations ricocheting through him, leaving him trembling and weak.

Slowly, so slowly, he returned to earth, his senses coming back under his control one by one. He was still buried to the hilt inside Aziraphale, his cock still hard and impossibly sensitive. His angel was lying below him, looking thoroughly fucked - rumpled and sated and gorgeous. His eyes were closed and his mouth open as he panted for breath, his hair a wild halo around his head, his hands still clenched tight in Crowley’s bum. As he watched, Aziraphale opened his blue-grey eyes and met his gaze, wonder and awe filling them. He was absolutely the most beautiful thing Crowley had ever seen in his long life, and he loved him completely.

One corner of Aziraphale’s mouth quirked up into a smile, then the other side joined the first. Crowley couldn’t help it, he smiled too, blissfully, incandescently happy.

“Oh, my darling,” Aziraphale cooed, releasing his bum and running one hand up Crowley’s back, making him shiver pleasantly. The other hand cupped the back of Crowley’s head and pulled him down into a kiss. Crowley was only too happy to lower his body onto his angel’s, not even noting the sticky mess on Aziraphale’s belly transferring to his. He wouldn’t have cared if he had noticed.

Crowley could feel himself softening, but dreaded pulling out and breaking the connection. Biology wouldn’t be denied, though, and eventually, he softened enough to slip out of Aziraphale’s warm body. That didn’t stop them kissing, however, and Crowley basked in the way Aziraphale’s hands caressed him lovingly.

Eventually, he thought his arms would give out and gentled the kiss. When they broke apart, Aziraphale had both of his cheeks in his hands and Crowley rested his forehead against his angel’s. He smiled and pressed one more kiss to Azriaphale’s lips, then collapsed onto the bed beside him, exhausted. He extended one arm to put it around Aziraphale, but found the other man rolled slightly away from him, reaching for tissues. Once he had them, he rolled back, resting his head on Crowley’s arm, and started wiping his belly.

“We made rather a mess,” Aziraphale said, using the tissue to clean himself.

For some reason, this struck Crowley as terribly funny, and he started to laugh, joy bubbling in his chest, then up and out of his throat. After a startled look, Aziraphale started to giggle, too, and they both laughed while he cleaned himself, then lovingly cleaned Crowley’s abdomen, too. Once he was done, he tossed the tissues carelessly over to the bedside table, and Crowley’s laughs died down when he rolled back over, settling himself against Crowley’s lean body - downy head on his shoulder and arm across his newly cleaned chest. Crowley hooked the duvet with his foot and pulled it up over them, then tangled their legs together, wound his spare arm under his head, and sighed contentedly. His angel echoed his sigh.

“Well, that was a thing,” he said after a minute, and Aziraphale giggled beside him.

“It was, indeed.”

“Do you believe me now, angel? Do you see how much I want you?”

“You did a very thorough job of convincing me,” Aziraphale said, his cheek tight against Crowley’s chest and a smile in his voice. “But,” he teased, “I may lose my faith from time to time and need to be reminded.”

Crowley chuckled. “I’ll remind you anytime you need, Aziraphale. Just say the word and I’ll remind you on or against the nearest flat surface.”

Aziraphale giggled, and Crowley ducked his head to press a kiss to Aziraphale’s white-blond head. Then he sighed again, absolutely contented, while Aziraphale started to doodle little patterns on his bare chest.

“Can I ask you something?” Aziraphale asked, breaking the silence a few moments later.

“You can ask me anything, angel. Anything at all.”

“Do you remember when we went to Hamlet?”

“Of course. It was less than a week ago.”

“Well, my friend Anathema thinks you were jealous that night when we met Fergus. Fergus himself seemed to think you were jealous.”

Crowley waited for him to say something else, but nothing was forthcoming. Finally, he prompted. “And?”

“Were you? Jealous of Fergus, that is.”

“I was nearly out of my mind with jealousy that night,” he admitted.

Aziraphale raised his head, surprised. “You really were?”

“I was chartreuse with it,” he confirmed with a little smile down at his angel. “Absolutely sick with it.”

He looked pleased, then settled down into Crowley’s shoulder. “Well that was entirely unnecessary, darling. Fergus is married and has children.”

“But I didn’t know that, did I? All I knew was that there was this handsome, Scottish bloke who was sitting next to you, touching you, and it nearly drove me mad. Then I found out you two had had a relationship in the past, and I nearly did go mad. For all I knew, you were going to retire back to London and rekindle your old flame.”

“That will never happen,” Aziraphale pledged, rubbing a soothing circle on the plane of Crowley’s chest. “I’m with you, dear. You never need worry about anyone else.”

Crowley felt slightly abashed. “I think it’s only fair to tell you that that may happen again. I haven’t been in a relationship in many years, but I was always a bit of a jealous type. The thought of some other man touching you…”

“I told you, you never have to worry about that.”

“I know, and I believe you. But I’m not perfect, Aziraphale, and one of my many flaws is a jealous streak. I hope you can forgive me if it rears its ugly head.”

Aziraphale raised his head from Crowley’s shoulder, turned his face up to his, and lengthened his body so he could press a kiss to a grateful Crowley’s mouth. “I’d forgive you anything, my darling. Anything at all. All I ask is that you tell me if you ever start feeling that way, so I can reassure you as quickly as possible. Alright?”

Crowley nodded, a bit shell shocked by the overwhelming amount of love he felt for the man in his arms. The words bubbled to the surface but he bit them back. Not yet.

His angel suddenly looked sheepish, lowering his eyes and tracing the skin of his chest. “I’m being presumptuous, talking of the future. That may not be what you want.”

He barked a surprised laugh. “Bloody hell, angel, I thought we got all of the stupid out of our systems already?”

Aziraphale looked hopeful. “You mean…”

“A future with you is all I want, Aziraphale. In the whole world. Just you.”

The blond man beamed up at him. “Really?”

“Yes, angel. I just want you.”

“I just want you, too.”

“Then we’re agreed,” Crowley said with a grin.

Aziraphale smiled back. “It seems we are.”

His angel granted him one more kiss, then settled back down into his arms, and Crowley pressed a kiss to his hair. They lay silently for a while, Crowley staring up at the ceiling and counting his lucky stars. In that moment, his life seemed perfect.

The moment stretched a bit and Crowley found himself getting drowsy. How lovely it would be to sleep with Aziraphale in his arms again, he thought. Not just tonight, but every night. God, how he wanted that.

“Crowley?”

“Yes, angel?”

“What did you think when you met me?”

Crowley grinned. “Fishing for compliments, are we?”

“No, no. Not at all. I just… I never thought you’d be interested in someone like me.”

“Why wouldn’t I be? You’re fascinating, angel.”

“I’m not. The whole reason this happened is because people think I’m a fuddy duddy.”

Crowley squeezed him. “The only people who think you’re a fuddy duddy are fuckers who don’t know you. You’re the most interesting man in the world, and I’m mesmerised by you.”

“Oh, stop,” Aziraphale protested, burrowing his face into Crowley’s shoulder.

“It’s true. And if you want to talk about thinking the other person wouldn't be interested, I thought surely you’d never take a chance on me, given my reputation.”

“I got to know you,” Aziraphale said simply. “Your reputation was a tiny bit concerning, I admit, but it seems the tabloids had it all wrong.”

“Tabloids are best at taking a grain of truth and spinning it into an elaborate tale, and that’s what happened with me. I dated around and went to parties, but I didn't have nearly as many partners as the rags made it seem, and I didn’t party quite as hard, either. It happened, yes, but the tabloids painted a rather exaggerated picture of it.”

“It seems like stories about you died down over the last couple of years,” Aziraphale observed.

“That’s for two reasons. First, my films weren’t doing as well, so interest in me was lower. That was why Beezle suggested this relationship.”

“I’m so glad they did,” Aziraphale purred with another stroke to his chest.

Crowley kissed his hair - which was becoming habit. “I’m glad, too. But the other reason is that I’ve calmed down quite a lot over the last few years. I didn’t swear off the lifestyle, but I’ve been less interested. Besides - no one has held that much interest to me.”

“Until me,” Azirpahle said, wiggling happily.

Crowley laughed. “Yes, until you,” he agreed. “And what little partying I did do has nearly dropped off entirely since I met you. I’d rather be spending time with you than drinking myself stupid.” He paused, and Azriaphale looked up at him with guileless blue-grey eyes. Crowley used his free hand to reach up and caress Aziraphale’s smooth cheek. “You make me better, angel.”

Aziraphale’s eyes were impossibly soft, and looked like they may be a bit dewy. Crowley just did his best to show his love without saying a word.

“I adore you,” Aziraphale said finally, his voice barely more than a whisper. “I just adore you, Crowley, and I’m so lucky you’re mine.”

Crowley grinned and kissed him softly. “I think I’m the lucky one. But I am yours - body and soul.”

Then they were kissing again, tongues exploring each other’s mouths while hands explored each other’s bodies. He would have thought it would be impossible to get hard again so soon, but the longer they kissed, he felt cock start to stiffen. He was just about to reach down and gauge Aziraphale’s interest when there was a loud growling noise. They broke apart immediately.

“Was that your stomach?” Crowley asked, incredulous.

Azirahale looked sheepish. “Yes. I - well, I was so upset all day, after the way we left things this morning, I wasn’t able to eat anything.”

“So you’re starving. Why didn’t you say so?”

“We were engaged in… other activities.”

Crowley grinned. “Fair enough. But now, you need to eat.”

“Really, dear, I’m alright.”

“No, I insist. I haven’t eaten today either.”

Aziraphale looked like he was just barely refraining from pouting. “But I was so comfortable.”

Crowley smirked. “Let's get up and order some delivery, then spend a little while on the couch together. When it’s time for bed, you and I will come in here and ‘get comfortable’ again.”

“So you’re going to stay with me tonight?”

“I’ll stay with you any night, angel. Every night. Or you can stay with me. I don’t care, just so long as we’re together.”

“Together. I like that.”

“I do, too.”

Azirphale sighed. “Alright, then, let’s go eat so we can hurry back to bed.”

Crowley smirked. He was only too happy to comply.

~*~O~*~

They finally separated from each other long enough to put on the majority of their clothes, while sneaking kisses and soft touches. Aziraphale tried convincing him to give up the idea of eating and fall into bed again, but Crowley was adamant: Aziraphale needed to be fed. He teased about keeping up their strength, and Aziraphale giggled, but capitulated.

They elected to order Mediterranean food from a little place near Aziraphale’s flat, and cuddled on the couch until it came. Once the food arrived, they separated into their respective corners of the couch to eat, chatting comfortably as they always did. It was funny, Aziraphale thought. If you’d pressed him to imagine a scenario where Crowley professed his attraction and they’d acted on it, he would have expected everything to be different, for there to be some fundamental shift in the way they were together. But they talked to each other just as easily as they always had. It was like nothing between them had changed, really, and that, more than anything, convinced Aziraphale that this was all real, that Crowley really had loved him all along.

Well, he stopped himself as soon as he had the thought, Crowley likes me, he desires me, he wants me. But he hasn’t said anything about love. The thought was mildly disappointing, but there wasn’t much room for anything but utter joy after the last few hours, so he dismissed it.

“I’m thinking of doing the film with Eliette Montgomery,” he said after thanking Crowley, who had just slid his uneaten kebab across the couch for Aziraphale.

“The romance film?”

“Yes. I think it’s called ‘Total Affairs’. What do you think?”

Crowley took a sip of his wine and reclined back into his corner of the couch, sprawling in what Aziraphale thought to be a devastatingly sexy way.

“I think it’s a smart move, professionally. You don’t want to be pigeonholed, and this is against type for you. A romantic lead will open more doors for you, without a doubt.”

He was holding something back and Azirapahle could tell. “Alright, now tell me what you really think.”

Crowley gave a hint of a smile, but looked down at his knees. “I think it may kill me to see you in love with someone else.”

Aziraphale grinned softly. “My darling, I can assure you, Eliette Montgomery holds no interest for me. All my interest is for you.”

“I know, I know. I do. And you should do the film. I want you to. But if you want me to be honest…”

“I do.”

“I’m not looking forward to you kissing someone else.”

Azraphale placed his plate to the side and leaned over to catch Crowley’s lips in a soft kiss. “I will never want another kiss that does not come from you, Anthony James Crowley. Not ever.”

Crowley laid his forehead against Aziraphale’s. “I never want to kiss anyone but you, either, angel.”

“But we will, because it’s our job.”

“Yes. But I don’t have to like it.”

Aziraphale chuckled and kissed his downturned lips. “I’d be worried if you did like it. That wouldn’t bode well for our relationship, would it?”

Crowley grinned a little. “No, it wouldn’t. When does filming start?”

“Mid-January. My understanding is that a lot of it is going to be filmed on location. Not sure where.”

“I’ll still be filming then,” Crowley remarked, then fell silent. Aziraphale did the same, pensive. Crowley finally said, “This isn’t going to be a typical relationship. We’re going to have to fight harder than most.”

Aziraphale sighed. “We’re likely to be separated a lot. It scares me, I have to admit.”

“Why? Do you think I’ll stop being mad about you if you’re out of sight for a few weeks?”

“No, of course not. Well, not really. But it does seem as if you and I will be on somewhat opposite sides…”

“We’re on our side, angel. Me and you, together. Yeah?”

Aziraphale grinned. “I like the sound of that.”

“Good. Come here.” He opened his arm in invitation and Aziraphale slid under it, nuzzling against him. When he was settled, Crowley pressed a kiss to the top of his head and Aziraphale sighed happily.

“On our own side,” he repeated, and Crowley squeezed him.

“It won’t be so bad. There are all kinds of ways we can keep in touch, and we’re both financially secure enough to fly home for a couple of days if we get a break.”

“It’s going to be torture,” Aziraphale pouted, then smoothed his hand over Crowley’s chest. “But I suppose you’re worth it.”

“Oh, thanks for that,” Crowley laughed, and Aziraphale raised his head to smile mischievously. Crowley took the invitation his lips presented and kissed him.

“Crowley?” he asked when they broke apart a minute later.

“Yeah, angel?”

“I really do want to see your house.”

Crowley grinned at him. “Tell you what. We’ll stay here tonight - I’m too comfy to move, honestly, and I think I’ve only got a few minutes left in me before I drag you back to bed.”

Aziraphale’s eyes twinkled. “Is that so?” he asked as he sent his hand down to cover the bulge in Crowley’s tight trousers.

His golden eyes darkened. “That’s very much so. But before I lose my train of thought: We’ll get up tomorrow morning, make love at least twice…” Aziraphale giggled and Crowley smirked. “And then I’ll help you pack a bag to go to my place.”

Aziraphale’s eyes widened. “Pack a bag? Why?”

“Because, my angel, once I get you in my home and in my bed, I’m not letting you go until I have to.”

“Promise?”

“I fucking swear.”

They sealed it with a kiss, which led to clothes being shifted and removed by exploring hands. Twenty minutes later, with Aziraphale on his knees, Crowley shouted his release. As soon as he gathered himself, he dragged a smug Aziraphale to the bedroom to repay the favor - and then some.

Chapter Text

Madame Tracy’s Star Watch, November 3, 2019 (excerpt) -
There were rumors of a rift between Anthony J. Crowley and A.Z. Fell after Halloween, when Anthony was seen leaving Fell’s apartment building, appearing angry and peeling out of the parking lot in his Aston Martin. Their disagreement must have been short-lived, because they were spotted together at a restaurant near Anthony’s home a couple of days later, looking more in love than ever...

~*~O~*~

November 8, 2019

Aziraphale had been to more parties in the two and a half months since he’d met Crowley than he had in the two and a half years previously. He couldn’t say that he enjoyed going to them, not really, but he was becoming more accustomed to the social aspect of his job. It was getting easier to mingle and socialize with other people in the industry. It helped that tonight, after they left this party, he and Crowley were going back to Crowley’s house to hide from the world for the weekend.

Things between him and Crowley were wonderful, and Aziraphale had never been so happy. In the last seven days, they’d barely been out of each other’s sight. Crowley had finally taken him to his house, and they’d stayed there for a couple of days. Then they’d gone back to Aziraphale’s flat and stayed there for a couple of days. They’d ventured out for dinner some nights, and other nights they’d just stayed in. Crowley surprised him by being a decent cook, and they’d spent a couple of their evenings working together in the kitchen, stealing kisses and touches as they cooked. It had been terribly romantic, and Aziraphale had been thoroughly swept off his feet.

And oh, the sex. Aziraphale had never had this much sex in such a concentrated time in his life! It was like they couldn’t keep their hands off each other, and both of them reveled in it. Crowley had very quickly learned how to take Aziraphale apart, piece by piece, with his hands and mouth. He always left Aziraphale a quivering mess every time they made love. Aziraphale could only hope he was bringing the same joy to Crowley (and it seemed he was).

Between the sex, there were countless moments of gentle intimacy, the likes of which Aziraphale had never shared with anyone else. Crowley very much liked to touch and cuddle, and Aziraphale loved that, too. They spent many hours curled around each other, either in the bed or on the couch (or once, notably, in Crowley’s enormous bathtub), talking quietly to each other, petting gently, murmuring sweet nothings and precious everythings. It was during those moments Aziraphale found it most difficult to keep in his growing love for Crowley. He wanted to promise forever to him, to pledge his life and his love to Crowley until his last breath, but still wasn’t entirely sure that would be welcomed. Sometimes he felt he was going to burst with the love in his heart, but somehow managed to keep himself from blurting it out and (potentially) ruining everything. He could wait. Of course he could. The right moment would come, and when it did, he’d be ready.

Tonight they were attending a mixer for the cast and crew of the film Crowley was about to begin filming in the next week. The party was being held at a posh wine bar, and Aziraphale was dreading it. For one thing, he still didn’t love parties and doubted he ever would. But more than that, he didn’t like what this party represented - their real lives and real jobs bursting their little bubble of happiness. Come Monday, Crowley would begin table readings, and by Thursday, they’d begin filming. In a little less than a week, he was scheduled to go to Canada to film the outdoor, winter scenes and would be gone for at least four weeks, possibly right up until Christmas. Aziraphale had planned on spending Christmas in London, but couldn’t even entertain the possibility of being away from Crowley for longer than he had to be. He’d stay in LA, waiting for Crowley, and if Crowley wanted to stay in LA for Christmas, that’s what he’d do. They could visit London when both their schedules cleared and they could go together. It would be fine. He knew it would. So long as he was with Crowley, it would be fine.

Crowley squeezed his hand as they walked up the sidewalk to the venue’s front door. “Are you alright, angel?”

“Of course,” he answered with a smile. “Tip-top.”

“We don’t have to stay long,” Crowley said, clearly not buying Aziraphale’s reassurances. “I need to schmooze a little, then we can leave.”

“Nonsense,” Azirapahle pooh-poohed him. “These are the people you’re going to be spending all your time with for the next couple of months. It’s absolutely in your best interest to meet them and get to know them as much as possible.”

“I’d rather be spending the evening at home with you.”

Aziraphale melted a bit. “I know, dearheart. And I’d prefer that, too. But this is work. It won’t be so bad, right?”

“If you say so. But I already want you so bad I can taste it, and we’ve not even gotten in the front doors yet.”

He felt himself blush and swatted gently at Crowley. “Oh, stop, you demon. Now, kiss me and we’ll go meet your coworkers for the next few months.”

Crowley gave a little grin, then dipped his head to give Aziraphale a quick kiss. As always, it made him feel as if his blood was fizzing in his veins.

They entered the venue to see a moderately-sized crowd of people milling around, chatting with each other. Aziraphale scanned the room quickly and spotted a couple of faces he recognized, but didn’t know well. Gabriel was also there, engaged in conversation with a man Aziraphale didn’t know, but he didn’t seek his attention.

“There he is!” came a voice from their right, and both men turned their heads to see Hastur La Vista heading their way, arms open expansively, smile on his face. Aziraphale felt his skin crawl, but this was the director of Crowley’s new film and essentially Crowley’s boss for the next few months. He could be nice.

“Hastur,” Crowley said cooly, letting go of Aziraphale’s hand to shake Hastur’s. As soon as he was done, he slipped his arm around Aziraphale’s waist. “I’m sure you know A.Z. Fell?”

“We’ve never met,” Aziraphale said, offering his hand reluctantly. “But I’m pleased to make your acquaintance.”

“Likewise,” the greasy-looking man said. “I saw you in ‘Tadfield’, of course. Remarkable acting.”

“Thank you.” Crowley squeezed his waist affectionately.

“So!” he said, turning back to Crowley. “Are you ready to start filming, Anthony?”

“As ready as I’ll ever be,” he answered easily, but Aziraphale could tell Crowley didn’t like the man, either.

“Should be a good time. Always better when a shoot feels more like fun than work, am I right?”

He gave a wheezy, warped laugh that really was quite alarming, and the last thing Aziraphale felt like doing was laughing. But he laughed politely anyway, casting an unsure glance at Crowley, who was also clearly faking it.

“Well, I suppose I’ll let you two get some wine and mingle with your fellow cast and crew. I’ll check up on you later, shall I?”

Please don’t, Aziraphale thought uncharitably.

The grubby man gave a wave with a twisted smile and left to go bother someone else.

Once he was gone, Crowley absently leaned over and kissed Aziraphale’s temple with a sigh. “It’s going to be like that all fucking night.”

Aziraphale was very much afraid he was right, but did his best to put on a brave face. “Buck up, Crowley, dear. They won’t all be like him.”

“Maybe not, but I’ve got to work with the grimy bastard for the next few months.”

Aziraphale cringed. “Yes, I’m afraid you do. But maybe it won’t be so bad! He might be an absolute delight to work with, you never know.”

Crowley muttered something he didn’t catch, but it didn’t matter. Aziraphale took his hand and led him over to the bar, getting both of them a glass of wine. Maybe that would help loosen Crowley up. Lord knew he could use a little alcohol to soothe his jangling nerves.

They were able to stay together for the first forty-five minutes, then Crowley had to excuse himself. He left Aziraphale on his own, pressing a kiss to his cheek and saying he’d be back in a flash. Aziraphale just accepted the parting kiss with a smile and watched him go, his heart bursting with love.

He chatted with the set designer for a few minutes while he waited for Crowley to return until she had to excuse herself, too. Aziraphale bid her a warm farewell and stayed where he was, thinking about making another trip to the bar to refill his glass.

“Hello,” he heard from behind him. He turned to find Madame Tracy approaching, a glass of wine in one hand, smiling engagingly. Aziraphale felt his hackles go up. She hadn’t printed anything unflattering about him and Crowley yet, but one false word could change that and land them both in hot water. She was well known and respected in Hollywood for being honest, despite her gossipy nature. Everyone read her column, but Aziraphale did his best to avoid journalists as a general rule, and gossip columnists especially. Still, he couldn’t be rude…

“Hello,” he answered with a guarded smile.

“I’ve been hoping to speak with you, Mr. Fell.”

A waiter passed with a tray of glasses and Aziraphale traded out his empty glass for a full one, not caring at all what was in it. As long as it was alcohol, that was all he needed. “Is that so?”

“Yes. I’ve spoken with Anthony, of course, but I’ve never had the chance to speak with you. Get to know you a bit.”

“Well, he’s much more interesting than I am. I’m nothing exciting.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that. You’ve earned worldwide celebrity with ‘Tadfield’, and legions of fans love knowing what their favorite celebrities are doing. That’s where I come in. Fellcrow is quite the relationship, and people are invested.”

Aziraphale was still a bit mystified by the idea of ‘legions of fans’, and even more puzzled by the notion that people were invested in his relationship, but didn’t question her. He just hummed and scanned the crowd for Crowley.

“So, what can I tell them about you and Anthony?”

“I hate to disappoint you, Ms… er… Madame Tracy, but I don’t have anything particularly juicy to share. We’re together and we’re happy. Deliriously so. That’s really all there is to know.”

“Are you concerned about the upcoming time apart?”

“Not particularly,” he lied. “It will be unpleasant, of course, but that’s the nature of our jobs. We plan to keep closely in touch.”

“Will you be travelling to see him?”

“Perhaps, but I have no plans to do so for now.”

“Does he have plans to visit you?”

“You’d have to ask him, dear.”

She smiled beguilingly. “Thank you, I will, if I can pin him down. Is there anything else you want your fans to know about you and Anthony J. Crowley?”

“Not really,” he replied, wishing for divine intervention. “Just what I’ve told you - we’re together and very, very happy about that fact.”

“You know, I’d love to do a proper interview with you. You’re so new on the scene here in Hollywood, I’m sure your fans would like to get to know you better…”

“Fell!” came Gabriel’s booming voice, and Aziraphale looked up to see his manager approaching, greasy smile in place. He’d hoped to be saved from Madame Tracy, but not to be stuck with Gabriel. Seemed like jumping from one unpleasant situation to another to him.

“Gabriel,” Aziraphale greeted the man with a smile he hoped looked genuine. “How lovely to see you.”

“You too, Fell. And Madame Tracy! What a delight. Not writing anything negative about my star client here, are you?”

“No, of course not. I’m just trying to learn a bit more about him and Anthony Crowley. Do you have any of your amazing insight to share?” she batted her lashes at Gabriel.

“We can talk later. For now, I need to speak with Fell. Can you excuse us?”

Madame Tracy didn’t get a chance to answer before Gabriel had taken him by the arm and was leading him away. Aziraphale made quick excuses and gave her a smile in apology while Gabriel dragged him off.

Once they were alone, the taller man demanded, “What did you tell her?”

Aziraphale bristled. “I didn’t tell her anything I would mind being published. I’m not a complete idiot, Gabriel.”

The smarmy smile was back. “No, of course you’re not. I was only curious.”

He hummed, not quite believing his manager, but didn’t disagree. Instead, he changed the subject. “I wasn’t expecting to see you here. Are you on business?”

“I represent Dianne Latham, who will be in this film. But I’m glad I ran into you, Fell. I’ve been meaning to pin you down about your next project. The deadlines are looming.”

“Yes, I’ve been meaning to speak with you, but I’ve been… er… distracted.”

“Well, there’s no time like the present. Have you decided on a film?”

“Yes. I think I’d like to do ‘Total Affairs’ with Eliette Montgomery.”

Gabriel gave him a look. “Are you sure that’s the one you want? I’d have expected you to choose one of the others. A role as a villain could really push your boundaries.”

“Well, that’s true, but I feel it’s too early to cast me as a villain. I’m not well enough established for that. Besides that, I’ve not always heard nice things about Tyler Webb or Daniel Fortin. Crowley was telling me --”

There was a flash in Gabriel’s eyes, then it was gone. “Crowley, eh?”

“Yes. He said that Daniel Fortin had made production a nightmare when they’d worked together, and I’ve heard similar about Tyler Webb. So I think, in this instance, ‘Total Affairs’ will be the best choice for me.”

“And what does Crowley think of that?”

“I’m in full support,” Crowley said from behind Aziraphale, and before he could turn around, Crowley had a comfortable arm around his waist. He couldn’t help it, the touch made his heart sing and he turned a bright smile to his beloved.

“You are, are you?” Gabriel said to Crowley, still smiling slickly.

“Absolutely. Whatever he wants to do, I’ll be in his corner, supporting him. It’s the least I can do.”

“I see,” Gabriel said, but there was something about his tone that Aziraphale didn’t like. He was smiling, but it didn’t come anywhere near his eyes.

Crowley didn’t seem to notice or care. “If you’ll excuse us, Gabe, I need to steal him away for a bit. Got some urgent business to attend to.”

“You do?” Aziraphale asked, surprised there would be any matter that needed his attention at an event like this.

Crowley nodded at him, his lip slightly quirked. “Very urgent, indeed.”

Aziraphale was even more confused. What could Crowley need him for? No matter: whatever Crowley needed, Aziraphale would provide.

“Can you excuse us, Gabriel?” he asked politely. “It seems I’m needed somewhere else.”

“By all means. I wouldn’t want to keep you from urgent business.” He smiled. “Fell, stop by my office this week and we’ll sign the paperwork. Anthony,” he said, turning to Crowley, “You’ll take care of my shining star, won’t you?”

“I’d rather die than let anything happen to my angel,” he promised. Then he tugged at Aziraphale’s waist, leading him away. “C’mon, Aziraphale.”

Aziraphale just threw up a hand in parting to Gabriel, but followed Crowley willingly. “Thank you for getting me away from him.”

“My pleasure, angel. You seemed tense.”

“I was. Where are we going?”

Crowley didn’t answer, just led him to a door that said ‘employees only’. He looked around to make sure he wasn’t being watched before pushing it open and guiding Aziraphale through. Aziraphale’s puzzlement grew as they made their way down a corridor, Crowley nodding curtly to the employees they passed. Once they were alone, he started trying doors, leaving the locked ones and moving on to the next door.

“My dear, are you alright?”

Crowley didn’t answer. He finally located an unlocked door and gave a ‘ha’ of laughter, then pulled the door open and ushered Aziraphale inside.

Aziraphale looked around the darkened room, confused. It appeared to be storage for wine - shelves lined every wall, and there were bottles upon bottles filling the shelves. There were also boxes labeled with the names of wines. But he couldn’t see what was so urgent about a storage room.

Behind him, the lock snicked into place and Aziraphale turned around. “Darling, are you - mmph!”

He was cut off by Crowley’s mouth covering his, kissing him passionately. Aziraphale melted into the kiss, just as he always did, and allowed himself to be pushed over against the shelves, rattling the bottles. Crowley’s hands were everywhere, roaming his body, and his hard cock was grinding against Aziraphale’s rapidly growing erection.

Just when Aziraphale thought he was going to die without oxygen, Crowley broke the kiss and started trailing his lips down Aziraphale’s neck.

“My dear, are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” Crowley answered between kisses. “It just occurred to me that we are going to be apart soon, and I won’t be able to touch you anytime I want. I felt compelled to take advantage of our proximity right now.”

Aziraphale smiled up at the ceiling, closing his eyes to the feel of Crowley’s lips and tongue on his ear.

“This is very nice, dear, and I’m glad you pulled me aside, but don’t you think we need to get back to the party?”

Crowley’s hands were starting to work Aziraphale’s belt buckle while his mouth nibbled his ear lobe. “Need you,” he breathed.

“We’ll be home soon,” Aziraphale reasoned. “But we’re in public right now, dear.”

“I don’t care. I need you now,” Crowley insisted, getting the belt unfastened and starting on the button and zip of his trousers. “Need to taste you. Need to suck you off.”

Aziraphale moaned with Crowley’s hand encircling him, and Crowley captured his mouth again. Their tongues battled, lips devouring, and Aziraphale knew he was lost. He'd do anything his beloved asked of him, anywhere and anytime at all. Crowley sucked his tongue, an imitation of what he wanted to do to his cock, and Aziraphale moaned again. His hand slid gently up and down Aziraphale’s cock, and Aziraphale was helpless to do anything but thrust into his fist.

“Al - alright, dear. Will you let me take care of you, too?”

Crowley shook his head. “No. I just need you. That’s all I need. Then we can go back to the party. Please, angel. Let me do this.”

Aziraphale sighed, a blissful sound as Crowley twisted his hand that was stroking Aziraphale’s cock. “You know I can’t say no to you, dear.”

Crowley smiled radiantly, then sank to his knees before Aziraphale. Minutes later, Aziraphale devoutly prayed for the room they were in to be soundproofed when he shouted his release.

Chapter Text

November 20, 2019

Usually, Anathema was at least a few minutes late to their lunches, so Aziraphale was surprised when he arrived at their usual restaurant to find the pretty young woman sitting at their usual table on the patio. He waved to her and she waved back with a smile, then he made his way into the restaurant. Once he reached her, he bent to kiss her cheek, then took his place across from her, unfolding his napkin and laying it across his lap.

“How are you, dear?” he asked with a bright, genuine smile.

“I’m good! Hope you are.’

“I’m splendid. How are you and Newton?”

“We’re fine. He’s in line for a promotion at work, and my fingers are crossed. If he gets it, we’re planning to get a house together.”

Aziraphale raised one eyebrow, his smile quirked. “Moving in together? My, that’s very serious.”

Anathema blushed slightly. “Oh, hush. I’d have moved in with him ages ago, but he didn’t want to move into my apartment or me move into his. He wanted to wait until we were a little more financially secure and could afford to rent a nice little house. Nevermind that I’d told him over and over again that we’d both be more financially secure if we only had to pay for one rent…”

“Yes, that sounds as if it would have made good financial sense. Still, a little house sounds lovely. Like you’re embarking on the American dream.”

She smiled dreamily. “Yes, I suppose we are.”

“You’ll have to let me know when you have a housewarming party, and I’ll bring a gift.”

“Oh, you don’t have to do that.”

“I want to, dear. It would be my pleasure. It’s not every day your friend settles down into coupledom in quite such a tangible way. Why, the next stop is marriage!”

She laughed. “I wouldn’t go that far.”

The waiter came and they gave their orders - both of them getting their usual. They handed the menus back to the waiter and turned to each other when he left.

“So!” Anathema started with her eyes twinkling. “How are things with your man?”

He knew Anathema was expecting a stuttering denial, and he was pleased to disappoint her. “They’re lovely. Simply lovely.”

Her eyes were wide. “They are?”

“Oh, yes. He’s out of town right now, you know, he had to go film on location in Canada for a few weeks, and of course I miss him terribly. But we’ve been texting nearly constantly and we speak by phone quite often, so it hasn’t been that bad thus far.”

Anathema blinked, surprise evident in her face. “Wait. You mean to tell me that you and he…?”

“Yes. We’re very much together now.”

She squealed and got to her feet, leaning across the table to hug Aziraphale. He grinned and got to his feet awkwardly to hug her back, then resumed his seat when she released him.

“Tell me everything,” she demanded as she took her seat again. “I want to know every detail.”

“I scarcely know where to begin!”

“Start with the basics. When did this happen?”

“Halloween.”

She swatted his arm from across the table. “It happened three weeks ago and you didn’t tell me?”

“I’m sorry! I’ve been… occupied.”

Anathema gave a saucy grin. “Oh, I just bet you have. Well, go on then. How did it happen?”

Aziraphale told the story of how he and Crowley had shared a night together, then he’d panicked the next morning. He told Anathema all about how he’d moped and cried the whole day, thinking that he’d ruined everything. Then Crowley had shown up, kissed him, called him stupid, and, well, the rest was history.

“And we’ve been together ever since,” he finished.

Anathema practically had stars in her eyes. “So you’re in love with each other.”

“Well, I’m certainly in love with him, but I’d hate to put words in his mouth. No words have been spoken.”

She looked puzzled. “Why not?”

“I don’t - I don’t know, really. I just haven’t been able to say the words to him yet. I’m afraid they may not be reciprocated.”

Anathema rolled her eyes. “Didn’t I tell you last time about his aura?”

Aziraphale refrained from rolling his own eyes with great effort. “You have, but I’d rather base my decision on something more tangible.”

“Auras never lie, Aziraphale. Oh! I’m so excited!”

He smiled. “I’m over the moon, myself.”

“What about the three month thing? Aren’t you supposed to break up soon?”

“Crowley says that when Beezle laid out the plan back in August, they said that as long as it was working, we could keep doing it. Since it’s obviously working, Crowley says we don’t have to worry.”

“Excellent. So tell me, how is it?”

“How is what, dear?”

She smiled brighter and leaned forward a little. “You know,” she said quietly, then made a lewd gesture with her hands.

He choked on a sip of water, then sputtered while she smirked. “Anathema!”

“What?” she asked innocently. “It’s just girl talk. I bet those narrow hips are perfect for --”

“That’s quite enough, you naughty thing,” he stopped her, his face burning. She looked utterly unrepentant, but also expectant.

“Well? How is it?”

“It’s… it’s… more than satisfying,” he answered, cheeks and ears flaming like anything.

Anathema giggled and Aziraphale couldn’t help it, he giggled, too. They spent the remainder of their lunch chatting about light topics, Aziraphale feeling like he was floating on a cloud.

~*~O~*~

November 23, 2019

Crowley entered his suite and flipped on the light, shrugging out of his coat and tossing it on the nearby chair. He’d been in Canada for ten days, ten grueling days, and there wasn’t yet an end in sight. The cast and crew were all anxious to get home to LA, Crowley chief among them, so they’d been working fourteen-to-sixteen hour days, seven days a week. Ten straight days that long were starting to take their toll, not just on him, but on the whole crew. There was a planned break in production this coming week, though, so everyone could go home for Thanksgiving. Crowley had never really celebrated the American holiday, being British, but this year, he just thought he might. Heavens knew he had something to be thankful for this year.

Speaking of his angel…

He checked his mobile, pulling it out of his pocket. It was just after nine. Aziraphale would still be up. Crowley needed a shower, but couldn’t wait to speak to Aziraphale. He was starving for the sound of his voice, for any contact with his love, so he pulled up the messenger app and clicked Aziraphale’s name.

Crowley - u up?

Almost immediately, the little chat bubble with three bouncing dots popped up.

Aziraphale - Of course. :) How was your day?
Crowley - long. but i’ll b home 4 days starting weds
Aziraphale - I’m counting the minutes, dear.

Crowley went to the suite’s bedroom and shucked his clothes, getting into the black silk pyjamas he’d brought while he tried to think of something else to say to Aziraphale. He was a decent conversationalist in person, he thought, but struggled to hold up his end of the conversation when he wasn’t face to face with someone. It seemed more awkward to him, and he hated texting for long conversations. But it was undeniably convenient, so he didn’t complain. Couldn’t even consider complaining - not with how lucky he was. Knowing that Aziraphale was his - that he could talk to him every night when he got back to his suite - was a warm kernel of joy buried deep in his heart, and it really didn’t matter how they talked, as long as they talked.

Aziraphale - How’s production?
Crowley - it feels slow, but i know we’re actually making progress
Aziraphale - Any estimate on how much longer?
Crowley - we’ll come back 2 the great white north after thanksgiving and hope 2 be done by xmas
Aziraphale - I hope so, too.

Crowley took a minute to brush his teeth and wash the day’s makeup and grime off of his face. He tied back the long ginger hair he was sporting for this film and went back into the bedroom, switching off the bathroom light. He was exhausted, but all he wanted right now was to talk to Aziraphale.

Crowley - can i call?

He’d barely sent the message when the mobile rang in his hand, displaying a candid selfie of he and Aziraphale he’d taken before he left. He smiled and pressed the green button.

“Hello, angel.”

“Of course you can call. You can always call me, dearheart.”

Crowley smiled and settled back into the pillows. “I just didn’t want to bother you if you were doing something important.”

“There’s nothing more important to me than you, Crowley. You should know that.”

He smiled brighter, feeling ridiculously happy with that knowledge. But he didn’t acknowledge it directly. Instead, he said, “Talk to me, angel.”

“About what, dear?”

“Anything. Everything. Tell me about your day. I just need to hear you.”

“Are you alright?”

“Yes, just completely mentally exhausted. Tell me about your day?”

“Oh, it wasn’t anything special. I met with Gabriel for a short while to hammer out some details about ‘Total Affairs’, and I had dinner with Eliette Montgomery.”

“Oh?”

“Yes. Gabriel suggested that since she and I would be playing a couple in love, perhaps we should spend a bit of time together, to make ourselves more comfortable. She’s lovely, Crowley. I think you’re going to adore her.”

“I’ve heard good things, but I’ve never met her. What’s she like?”

“She’s very clever, I noticed that right away. Very well-read. It’s not common that I find someone as well-read as I am, but I was pleasantly surprised that she was. We chatted about books and authors we both love for a long while, and by the time dinner was over, I felt like I’d known her for years.”

Crowley squirmed a little, internally. He wasn’t particularly well-read. Was Aziraphale missing that about their relationship? The very thought made him feel a little ill, but Aziraphale was impervious to his turmoil.

“I have to admit, the idea of playing a serious love interest has been a bit daunting, and to be doing it opposite someone like Eliette, well, I was worried. Gabriel had the right idea this time, though. I feel much better about it after spending time with her, and she seemed more at ease with the idea, too. She’s got a very sweet spirit. Reminds me more than a little of you, dearheart.”

Crowley’s eyes widened. “Of me? I’m not sweet.”

He could almost see Aziraphale roll his eyes. “Of course you’re not, Crowley. Why, you’re downright demonic.”

“Damned right,” he answered with a smirk, and through the phone, Aziraphale giggled. “Angel?”

“Yes, darling?”

“I’m sorry I’m not more well-read.”

Aziraphale sounded surprised. “Has that been bothering you?”

“A little. Does it bother you?”

“Not in the least. I like you just as you are.”

Crowley felt that warm kernel grow a little larger inside himself. God, he loved Aziraphale.

“I can’t wait for you to be home,” Aziraphale said softly.

“I can’t wait, either. I think I’m going to drag you into my bed and keep you there until it’s time for me to fly back on Sunday.”

“Don’t forget we’re having Thanksgiving dinner with my friend Anathema and her bloke, Newton.”

Crowley groaned theatrically. “Do we have to?”

“Well, no, I don’t suppose we have to, but I’d like to.”

There was nothing he’d ever deny Aziraphale, but that didn’t mean he was prepared to give in without a little bit of a playful fight.

“But angel,” he wheedled, “by Thursday evening, I’ll only have been home for a day. There’s no way I’ll be ready to release you from my bed yet.”

Aziraphale giggled, as intended. “You’ll be alright. It won’t hurt you to be social for a little while. Then, when we’re done, you can drag me to bed and keep me there until you have to fly out on Sunday.”

Crowley grinned wolfishly, although Aziraphale couldn’t see it. “You promise, angel?”

“Cross my heart.”

“Good. Because I have plans for you and your delectable body.”

“Oh, do you?”

“Mhm.”

“Tell me some of your plans.”

This was new. Aziraphale rarely engaged in risque talk over the phone or by text. Crowley was intrigued, but decided not to jump right into phone sex. Aziraphale might just be teasing. Christ, Crowley hoped not.

“I can’t tell you,” he teased. “It’ll ruin the surprise.”

“Oh, a surprise? Well, that’s tantalizing.”

“I hope so.”

They were quiet a moment, and Crowley felt his half-hard cock soften. So he had gotten the wrong impression. He sighed, but wasn’t terribly bothered. He’d have the real thing in four days.

“Crowley?”

“Yes, angel?”

“What are you doing?”

“I’m lying in bed, talking to you, thinking about how I’m the luckiest bastard in the world.”

“And, um, what are you wearing?”

Crowley froze. Surely he wasn’t meaning to…

“Crowley, dear?”

“Sorry, sorry. I’m here. My brain short circuited for a minute, but I’m here. It almost sounded like you were trying to have phone sex with me,” he said with a little laugh.

“Oh, but I am,” the angel said, and Crowley’s cock stiffened at once.

“Ngk.”

“Is that alright?”

“Yeah, yeah, it’s - it’s more than alright. It’s fucking brilliant. I just… never expected you to be the type to initiate phone sex.”

“Oh, there’s lots of sides to me you haven’t seen yet,” Aziraphale practically purred.

“Is that so?” Crowley said, trying for suave but coming out a bit squeaky.

“Yes, that’s so. But in fairness, I never have been the type to initiate phone sex. In fact, I’ve never done this before. But I miss you terribly, my body thirsts for yours, and I’ve spent the last ten days thinking about this. Can we try it?”

“Absolutely,” he agreed eagerly. “Anything you want, Aziraphale. Anything at all.”

“Splendid,” he said, and Crowley could imagine him giving that little wiggle he gave whenever he won a minor victory. It made him miss his angel even more.

“So, how do we begin?” Aziraphale asked. “I read a couple of books but --”

“You read books?”

“Of course I did,” he answered matter-of-factly. “But I assume you’ve done this before, so I’ll defer to the expert.”

“I haven’t,” Crowley confessed. “But I have a general idea. What are you wearing? Where are you?”

“I’m in my favorite chair - you know the one. I was reading when you texted. As for what I’m wearing, I’m only partially dressed, I’m afraid. Just in my trousers and shirtsleeves.”

Crowley swallowed hard, picturing him clearly. God, he was gorgeous. “Are you comfortable where you are, or would you rather go to the bed?”

“Hmm. Seems more expedient to go to the bed, don’t you think? I’ll do that. While I’m on the way, why don’t you tell me about what you’re wearing and where you are.”

“I already told you, I’m in my bed in the suite, and I’m wearing black silk pyjamas.”

“Mmm. I love the way those feel against my skin. Shall I tell you what I’d do if I were there?”

“Please.”

“I’d roll you over until we were facing each other, then I’d kiss you. Deep and slow, showing you just how much I adore you.”

“Yeah?”

“Oh, yes. And I believe I’d let my hands go on a bit of a wander, too. Touching you all over.”

Crowley unbuttoned his pyjama shirt hastily and started running his free hand all over himself, imagining Aziraphale’s thick fingers touching him.

“Do you like touching me?” he asked.

“I love it, Crowley. Your body responds so well to my touch - your muscles jump under my fingers like they’re eager for more and I love it.”

“Are you - are you naked?”

“Not yet. I’m on my bed right now with my trousers open, touching my cock and imagining it’s your fingertips instead of mine.”

Crowley made another guttural sound and palmed his erection.

“If I were there,” Aziraphale continued, “I’d make short work of your pyjamas, getting them off and kissing every inch of your skin. I’d paint your body with my tongue and suck on your nipples until you keened.”

Jesus, angel. Just what kind of books did you read?”

“Are you hard?”

“I’m harder than fucking iron.”

“Pull your cock out, Crowley.”

Crowley did as instructed, pushing his pyjama trousers down and freeing his cock. It curved upwards, towards his belly, and a small drip of precome beaded at the tip.

“I bet you’re gorgeous like that, lying on your bed, cock out and hard. If I were there, I’d have to taste it.”

Crowley wrapped his hand around his cock lightly - so lightly. “Yeah?”

“Oh, yes. You see, your skin is my favorite thing to taste. Especially the skin of your cock.”

He slammed his eyes shut and grasped for control. “Better than crepes?” he made a weak joke.

Much better than crepes. Your cock is so gorgeous, so long and shapely, and every time I see it, I want to put it inside me. It’s an instinct. If I were there, I’d roll you over onto your back and kiss you, starting at your mouth, then making my way down to your cock. Would you like that?”

“God, yes.”

“Good. I’d take you into my mouth and suck you then.”

Crowley tightened his hand around his cock and started to pump it lightly. “Angel, are you… are you…?”

“Touching myself? Yes, dear, I am. I have my cock in my hand and I’m stroking it, thinking about sucking you off. I’m so hard for you, Crowley. All for you.”

“Jesus.”

“I’d suck your cock until you were close, then I’d stop for a bit. It wouldn’t do for you to come too soon.”

“What would you - what would you do?”

“I’d keep stroking you, of course, but I believe I’d let my mouth go to your bollocks.”

“Oh, God.”

“I’d lick them and suck them, swirling my tongue over each one, taking it into my mouth. Would you like that, dear?”

“Please.”

“You want more? Very well. I’d already be lying between your parted thighs, but I’d make you spread them more - wider. Until you’re open to me. Then I’d plant my face between your cheeks and lick your arsehole.”

Crowley’s hips shot off the bed at the very idea. “Angel!”

“Do you like that? Oh, I do, too. You taste heavenly here, darling, but I want more. So I use my hands to spread your cheeks and dive deeper.”

“Oh God, Aziraphale. Oh fuck.”

“My tongue swirls around your hole, licking you out, tasting you, relishing you. Oh, I could do this for hours.”

“Pro- promise me that you’ll do this for real, angel. Swear to me.”

“Oh, my darling, I had no idea you wanted me to. I promise. I’ll eat you out like the most delicious meal, and I’ll enjoy every second.”

“I’m getting close, Aziraphale. Shit. I’m gonna come soon.”

“Don’t come until I get my mouth back on you. I want you to come down my throat.”

“Oh God, oh fuck,” Crowley swore helplessly.

“I love the way you quiver when you’re close. Your thighs tremble and you pull my hair - oh, I love when you do that.”

Crowley was hanging by a thread. “Angel, please, please...”

“Come, dearest. Come for me, come right down my throat.”

He released with a cry of Aziraphale’s name, every muscle in his body tensing and his vision whiting out with pleasure. Come splattered all over his chest and belly, but he didn’t care, couldn’t possibly care. He stroked himself through the orgasm, mindlessly fucking his fist, moaning and swearing, bucking on the bed. When his cock became too sensitive, he stilled his motions and collapsed back onto the pillows, spent and panting.

“My dear, the sounds you just made…”

The only thing Crowley could think of was, “Did you come?”

“No, but I’m close. Talk to me, please.”

He took a deep breath, trying to gather his thoughts. Then he closed his eyes and immersed himself in a fantasy.

“Imagine I’m there with you. Imagine I’m right beside you, over you, licking and kissing you.”

“Yes, I’m imagining you…” he said between heavy, ragged breaths.

“Do you want me to fuck you?”

“Oh please, please fuck me.”

“Imagine yourself turning over. Mmm, I like you like this, arse in the air. I want to bite it, it looks so good. But later. For now, I need to open you up. So I press my finger to your entrance. You’re slick and open already - my, my, angel. Did you prepare yourself for me?”

“Crowley, please.”

“I finger you gently, looking for that spot, and you cry out when I find it.”

“Oh, God,” he whimpered.

“I stroke you for a few minutes while you beg for more… you beg so prettily, have I ever mentioned?”

“Oh, Crowley, darling, please...”

“Please what?”

“Please fuck me. I need you to fuck me.”

“Anything my angel wants. I raise up behind you, nudging your hole with my cock. Do you want me fast or slow?”

“F-fast. I’m so close, Crowley…”

“I push myself into you as far as I can go and you cry out. God, angel, your arse feels so good. Then I start fucking you, picking up speed, my hands gripping your hips and holding you still while I take you.”

“Here I come...oh!”

“Come for me, angel. Let go and come for me.”

Aziraphale gave a strangled cry that may have been Crowley’s name, and there was a soft thudding that Crowley assumed was the phone being dropped. He listened intently, basking in the sounds Aziraphale made, each moan and ragged breath sweeter than music to Crowley’s ears. After a minute, there was a fumbling sound and Aziraphale’s breathing got louder.

“Darling? Are you there?”

“I’m here, Aziraphale. Did you come?”

“Good lord, yes. I haven’t come that hard by my own hand in ages.”

“That was… unbelievably fucking hot, angel. I have no idea where you learned to talk dirty like that, but I’ll buy you every book ever written if that’s what it’ll get me.”

Aziraphale let out a tired chuckle. “I’ll bear that in mind. And I’m forced to agree - that was incredibly arousing. We’ll have to do that again.”

“Absolutely.” Crowley glanced around the bed and spotted a discarded shirt: he grabbed it and used it to clean himself. When he was done, he tossed it away with a sigh.

“Are you alright?” Aziraphale asked.

“I’m as alright as I can be when you’re a thousand miles away.”

“I know, dearheart. I miss you, too. More than I can say. But in four days, you’ll be home.”

“I will,” he agreed, then yawned.

“You’re tired,” Aziraphale deducted. “I should let you go.”

“Wait! Don’t go.”

“You’re exhausted, dear. You need your rest.”

“What I need is you.”

“I’d be there with you if I could.”

“Would you… would you maybe read to me?” he asked, and his voice sounded vulnerable in his own ears. Maybe that was okay.

Aziraphale sounded surprised. “Read to you?”

“Yes. Until I fall asleep. I just… Your voice relaxes me like nothing else, angel. I can’t have you here, but hearing you makes me feel close to you.”

“You know I can’t say no to you. If that's what you need, I’ll gladly do it. Do you have any preference regarding what I read?”

“No. Anything is fine.”

There was a slight shuffling sound on the line, as if Aziraphale was reaching for something. “How about… Shakespearean sonnets? I’m suddenly feeling very soft and amorous. No idea why.”

Crowley chuckled. “No, I haven’t any idea, either. But angel?”

“Yes, Crowley?”

It sprung to his lips to tell him he loved him. It was the truest thing he knew - he was madly, desperately in love with A.Z. Fell. But he bit the words back. Aziraphale deserved more than Crowley just blurting the words - especially over the telephone. No, he needed to construct a moment, some way to show his angel how he felt, and then tell him. He’d get to work on that just as soon as this godforsaken location was over. Maybe he could tell him for Christmas.

But for the moment, he had to say something.

“I miss you so much I ache with it.”

Aziraphale’s voice was tender. “I miss you too, Crowley. So much.”

“Four days, and I get to hold you again.”

“Yes. Four days. We can make it.”

“I fucking hope so. And Aziraphale?”

“Yes?”

“Thank you for reading to me.”

“It’s my pleasure, dear. Sleep now, and dream of lovely things. Whatever you like best.”

“Then I’ll dream of you.”

Aziraphale chuckled. “Flatterer. Goodnight, Crowley.”

“Goodnight, angel.”

He took the phone and pressed the speaker button just as Aziraphale started reading. “Sonnet 69. ‘Those parts of thee that the world's eye doth view,
Want nothing that the thought of hearts can mend...’”

Crowley smiled to himself and burrowed down into his pillows, drifting to sleep with his angel’s voice in his ear and a small smile on his face. When he dreamed that night, he dreamed of a long future with Aziraphale.

Chapter Text

December 16, 2019

Crowley was going out of his mind. He was aware of it, but didn’t see any way to stop it.

After a four-day furlough at the end of last month, he’d returned to the set in Canada rejuvenated and ready to work. He’d been ready and willing to do anything and everything to wrap this location so he could go home to Aziraphale. That had lasted approximately five days before he was ready to tear his hair out with frustration.

Shooting in December was only supposed to last about two weeks, but everything seemed to be going wrong, and Crowley had spent most of the last two weeks sitting in his chair on set, waiting, bored off his tits. For a while the weather hadn’t cooperated and they’d done as much as they could inside. Then there had been snafus with nearly every department: the props had been wrong, the makeup artist had fallen sick, two of the cameras broke. The two weeks they’d planned on was over, and they still had more than a few pages of script left to shoot. He should have been home by now, but as it stood at the moment, they were unlikely to finish shooting before Christmas and would have to come back after the holiday. The current rumor was that if they weren’t finished (and it looked like they wouldn’t be), they were going to break before Christmas Eve and return the week after.

Crowley was miserable. He’d hoped to have a long holiday with Aziraphale, to be able to take his angel to London. That seemed like an impossibility now, and he was more than a little salty about it. Not that he wouldn’t enjoy Christmas in LA with Aziraphale, he just knew that the other man had had his heart set on going back to London during the break. It killed him that he couldn’t give his love exactly what he wanted. His heart’s only desire was to make Aziraphale happy, and what good was he if he couldn’t do that?

He sighed to himself, doing his best to push aside the maudlin thought. Aziraphale would be disappointed, but he wouldn’t be so disappointed that it would ruin his holiday. Crowley wouldn’t allow his holiday to be ruined, wouldn’t stand for it. If he couldn’t wisk Aziraphale off to England, perhaps he’d simply bring as much of London as possible to LA. That was a brilliant idea, he decided. They could pick out a tree and trim it, then they could make a traditional Christmas meal together, and Crowley would shower him in gifts. And maybe on Christmas morning, if he wasn’t an utter coward, he’d confess his undying love.

Yes, that was an excellent plan, Crowley decided, and he felt his mood elevate just a bit. He’d pitch the idea to Aziraphale tonight when they talked, and see what he said. In the meantime, though, he’d start shopping for gifts. He had no idea what to get his angel, really, but he’d figure something out. He was clever, after all.

Two hours later found him in his chair on set, browsing his phone for gifts for Aziraphale and doing his best not to be annoyed with yet another delay. It was cold and he was freezing, bundled in his puffy coat, waiting for his call. At this rate, though, they might not even film his scene today, and he was seriously considering going back to his trailer to wait out the end of the day. He glanced at his watch and sighed, frustrated. Another wasted day. Another day away from Aziraphale. Fuck this.

Crowley had just gone back to his mobile, searching for first editions of authors Aziraphale might like, when he heard the most beautiful sound in the world.

“Dear me, it seems I’m underdressed. I should have brought a heavier coat.”

Crowley’s head snapped up, his eyes wide, and he turned in his chair so fast he nearly toppled it. Standing just a few feet away, beaming like the angel he was, was Aziraphale.

“Angel,” Crowley breathed, too startled to move yet.

“Surprise!” Aziraphale said with a little wave of his hands. “I’m here. Are you happy to see me?”

He didn’t remember making the decision to move, but the next thing he knew, he had his arms around Aziraphale, holding him close.

“You’re here. You’re really here,” he murmured into his angel’s shoulder.

“I’m here,” Aziraphale reassured him, a smile in his voice.

Crowley squeezed him tight, then loosened the hug to lean back far enough to capture his lips, kissing him hard. He was dimly aware of applause and catcalls from around them, but couldn’t care right then. He had his angel in his arms, their mouths slotted together, and that was all he cared about.

After a few moments, Aziraphale smiled into the kiss, breaking it. “We’re making a scene,” he said quietly against Crowley’s lips.

“I don’t give a fuck.”

Aziraphale chuckled and pressed one more kiss to Crowley’s mouth. Then he turned away to acknowledge the small crowd that had gathered. Crowley just watched him smile and nod at people, still struggling to believe he was there.

After the crowd had dispersed, Aziraphale turned back to Crowley, still smiling. His smile fell when he caught sight of Crowley’s face. He reached up and cupped Crowley’s cheek. “What’s wrong, dear?”

“I just… I missed you so much. My heart was crying out for you, and it’s like you manifested directly from my daydreams.”

Aziraphale gave a gentle smile. “I manifested directly from a United flight.”

“Same difference.”

He laughed, then pressed another kiss to his lips. “I missed you, too. Are you on a break? Why don’t you show me around?”

“No.”

“No?”

“No. We’re blowing this popsicle stand.”

“But dear,” he started, but Crowley wasn’t listening. He’d taken Aziraphale by the hand and was dragging him to Hastur.

“Hastur!”

The grizzled, grimy man turned around. When he saw Aziraphale, he smiled. “Mr. Fell! I’d heard we were going to have a visitor on set today. Glad you made it. How are you?”

“I’m fine, tha--”

“We’ll be in my trailer,” Crowley announced shortly.

Hastur’s face fell into a questioning look. “We’re going to need you soon. Your scene is next and --”

“You know perfectly fucking well that you won’t need me for at least a couple of hours. When you’re ready for me, send someone. I’ll be in my trailer until then.”

Hastur’s lips were pursed, but he nodded. “Very well. But we will be sending someone for you - probably sooner than you think.”

“Fine, whatever,” Crowley waved a careless hand and started towards his trailer, pulling Aziraphale along behind him.

“Thank you for having me, Hastur,” Aziraphale said politely over his shoulder, but Crowley didn’t hear (or care about) the response. He nodded curtly to crew members as he passed, most of whom looked a little intimidated or confused by the look on his face. Made sense. He was overwhelmingly happy, but absolutely determined to get his angel back to his trailer. Now.

Once they reached the trailer, he opened the door quickly and guided Aziraphale inside. He followed at once, shutting the door against the cold. His trailer was warm, but the gentle amusement in Aziraphale’s eyes was warmer. He just stared at his angel for a moment, drinking him in, his heart swelling with love.

“I missed you,” he managed, unable to think of anything else.

Aziraphale smiled even more brightly and stepped forward to cup Crowley’s cheek, caressing it, then pressed a soft kiss to his lips. “I missed you too, beloved. That’s why I hopped a flight to come here. Good surprise?” he teased.

Crowley wound his arms around the other man’s waist. “The best surprise ever. I’m the luckiest bastard in the world.”

“I’m afraid I must disagree with you there, dearheart. I’m the luckiest bastard in the world.”

“You’re not a bastard,” Crowley protested lighty, smiling.

“I’m a bit of a bastard.”

Crowley chuckled, then sighed. “Can I just… hold you for a few minutes? Please?”

Aziraphale smiled and kissed him lightly. “Let’s get out of these coats and you can do just that.”

Crowley didn’t need to be told twice. He shucked his puffy coat, discarding it carelessly while Aziraphale carefully took off his coat and lay it neatly over the back of a chair. As soon as he was done, Crowley took him by the hand and led him over to the couch, flopping down and pulling Aziraphale down beside him. His entire body and soul relaxed when he got his angel nestled into his arms, relief surging all through him, and he sighed contentedly. “Oh, I’ve needed this.”

“I have too,” Aziraphale confessed. “So very much.”

“What made you decide to come?”

“You were starting to sound stressed in your phone calls. I could tell you were starting to struggle with the distance, and frankly, I was, too. I needed to see you. So I made the decision yesterday and booked the flight.”

“I’m so glad you did,” Crowley murmured, then pressed a kiss to Aziraphale’s hair. “It looks like we’re going to have to fucking come back after first of the year.”

“Well, that’s less than ideal,” Aziraphale said, sounding displeased. “I had hoped we’d have a couple of weeks together before I had to start filming ‘Total Affairs’.”

“I know,” Crowley answered miserably. “I had, too.”

They were quiet for a minute, then Aziraphale seemed to shake it off. “No matter. I’ll have Gabriel write into my contract that I get every other weekend off, so I can fly home to be with you.”

Crowley raised his head. “You’d do that?”

Aziraphale rolled his eyes playfully. “Of course I would, dear. Whatever it takes.”

Once again, those three little words sprung to Crowley’s lips, but he bit them back. It was getting harder and harder to do.

“How are things here?” Aziraphale asked, unaware of Crowley’s thoughts.

“They’re… awful.”

“What’s so awful?”

“Everything is going wrong. Nothing is going right. And Hastur is the worst. I swear to God, I believe the man eats maggots.”

“That’s disgusting, Crowley.”

“You’re entirely right. It’s repulsive.”

“Are you sure things are so terrible, or are you just frustrated because you want to be home?”

“A bit of both, really. Murphy’s Law applies here. If something can fuck up, it’s fucking up. I’m so sick of it.”

“Well, I can understand, but there’s no need to get too bent out of shape. You’ll be home for Christmas, and after that, we’ll be able to see each other every other weekend for a few weeks. I should be back from my location shoot before Valentine’s Day, and we’ll be together in the same city again.”

Crowley groaned. “Valentine’s Day seems so far away.”

“Yes, it does, but we’ll both be working most of the time. It will keep us busy.”

He nuzzled his angels’ curls. “I’d rather get busy with you.”

Aziraphale giggled, then gave a false gasp. “Why, Anthony Crowley, you naughty thing.”

Crowley grinned, but dipped his head lower to start kissing his ear, then his neck. “Yes?”

Aziraphale tilted his head to the side to allow Crowley’s mouth more room. “I thought you wanted to hold me?”

“I do. And I will. But I need you, angel. It’s been weeks.”

“We’ve had sex nearly every night,” Aziraphale said, a smile in his voice.

Crowley raised his head and pursed his lips at a smirking Aziraphale. “That doesn’t count, and you know it.”

He widened his eyes in a show of false innocence. “It doesn’t?”

“You mischievous thing,” Crowley grinned, then kissed his angel. The kiss was gentle and slow for a time, but it didn't take long for things to heat up. Crowley turned his body a little, so they were facing each other more, and let his hands touch Aziraphale in all the ways he’d been longing to for two weeks. There were too many clothes in the way, though, and he started working on the buttons of his angel’s waistcoat and shirt. Once he got a bit of skin uncovered at Aziraphale’s collar, he started kissing and nipping it, tasting his angel, hungry for more.

Aziraphale’s breath was choppy, his chest heaving beneath Crowley’s lips, and he moaned when Crowley managed to get the shirt and waistcoat open, baring his chest.

“Crowley, my dear?”

Crowley stopped circling Aziraphale’s nipple with his tongue long enough to answer. “Yeah, angel?”

“I want you.”

He grinned and went back to pressing kisses along Aziraphale’s breastbone. “Want you, too.”

“I want to fuck you.”

“Ngk.”

“And I believe you want me to fuck you.”

Crowley felt his already hard cock stiffen further and he groaned. “Jesus, angel.”

“I had a feeling that something like this may happen when we saw each other.”

“That’s because you’re so clever.”

“Do you have any lubricant?”

Crowley stopped what he was doing, Aziraphale’s words like a shock of cold water. “Shit. I didn’t think --”

Aziraphale smiled at him. “No need to look so despondent, my dear. I brought some. That’s what I was trying to tell you.”

Sweet relief washed over Crowley. “You did?”

“I did. As I said, I suspected this might happen.”

Crowley grinned and pressed a quick kiss to his lips. “You’re a genius. Where is it?”

“In the inside pocket of my coat. If you’ll let me…”

“I’ll get it,” Crowley volunteered, dropping one more kiss to Aziraphale’s lips, then getting to his feet and hustling across the room to where Aziraphale’s coat hung. He fished in the pocket and found exactly what he was looking for - a small bottle of lube. Prize in hand, he started back over to where Aziraphale sat on the couch, his chest exposed, lips swollen, and hair a mess. The front of his trousers were severely tented and his blue eyes, usually so light, were dark with lust. Crowley thought him to be the most erotic thing he’d ever seen.

Aziraphale raised one hand and beckoned Crowley closer with a crooked finger. “Come closer, darling, I want to get a taste of you.”

Crowley swallowed hard but hastened to obey. Aziraphale reached for him when he got close and pulled him in by the belt loops until he was standing between his angel’s legs. Aziraphale leaned forward and started pressing kisses to Crowley's hard cock through his jeans, mouthing it, making the denim all wet. Crowley’s chest was heaving, and he couldn’t help a little groan.

After a while, Aziraphale seemed dissatisfied and started working on the button and zip of Crowley’s jeans. He reached down to try to help, but Aziraphale swatted his hands away.

“I’ll do that, thank you,” he said, and the authority in his voice, so different from Aziraphale’s usual tone, made something pulse inside of Crowley. Aziraphale had never been bossy in bed before, but damned if Crowley didn’t fucking love it.

After an eternity (which was, in reality, only a few seconds), Aziraphale got Crowley’s trousers open and pushed them down to his thighs, along with his pants. His cock sprung free, throbbing and so fucking hard, and Aziraphale eyed it appreciatively.

“Hello, dear friend,” the blond man purred, reaching up to circle Crowley’s cock with his fist. “I’ve missed you terribly. Have you missed me?”

“He’s - he’s missed you, too.”

“Well that’s good to hear. He certainly looks happy to see me.” Aziraphale kept pumping gently, driving Crowley insane. “Shall I say hello properly?”

“Please, angel…”

Crowley cried out brokenly when Aziraphale took his cock into his mouth, his long hair falling back over his shoulders when his head rocked back and assorted swear words falling from his lips in little hisses. Aziraphale held on to his hips to steady him and bobbed his head, sucking greedily. Crowley’s hands balled up by his sides and he gritted his teeth, trying not to come too soon. After a few moments, Aziraphale reached for Crowley’s hands and placed them on his head. Crowley groaned and fisted the blond curls lightly. Apparently satisfied, Aziraphale wrapped one hand around Crowley’s cock and pumped it in time with his bobbing head. The added sensation was fantastic, and Crowley swore.

“Fuck, angel. You feel so good, your mouth is so hot... Fuck!

Aziraphale moaned in response and sped up the motions of his mouth, increasing the suction, and Crowley cried out.

“Not gonna last long like this, angel. God! Gonna come soon. Shit!

He pulled his mouth off and looked up at Crowley while he continued to pump his cock. “What do you want, darling?”

“Y - you.”

“You’ll have me, but how do you want me? You can have anything you want.”

“Fuck.” Crowley couldn’t think. He wanted his angel every way, and he wanted him now. Dozens of possibilities zinged around his brain, each one better than the last, until finally, he blurted, “I want to ride you. Please.”

Aziraphale grinned up at him. “Do you want to come this way first?”

Christ, he was close, and was more tempted than he’d ever been by anything in his life. But he shook his head. “No. Want you to fuck me. Want to come with your cock in me.”

“Then that’s what you shall have.” He bent and sucked Crowley’s cock for a moment longer, then pulled off with a last, parting kiss to the purple head. “What’s that saying? Kit off.”

Crowley scrambled to obey, kicking off his shoes hastily while he dragged his shirt over his head. Once he was rid of his shoes and shirt, he shoved his jeans and pants down, tugging them off with his socks, watching Aziraphale the whole time. Aziraphale had slowly and deliberately gotten rid of his shirt and waistcoat and was unbuttoning his trousers. Their eyes were locked when Aziraphale raised his hips enough to slide down his trousers and bare himself. Crowley eyed his thick cock hungrily, and his body clenched in anticipation of being filled by him.

Aziraphale stopped wrestling with his pants and trousers when they were around his calves, then reached for Crowley. Crowley was only too happy to come to him, reaching for Aziraphale’s face and meeting his mouth in a messy kiss while the rest of his body straddled Aziraphale’s lap and got himself settled there. His hands were clutching either side of Aziraphale’s head, holding him still for desperate kisses, and Azirphale’s hands roamed his body, caressing and stroking, gripping him in places. Crowley thought he could stay like that forever, wrapped in the arms of his love, being kissed and petted by him. All of eternity in Aziraphale’s arms - that’s what he wanted.

The kiss broke and they both panted heavily. For the millionth time, the words sprung to Crowley’s lips, but he didn’t let them escape.

Aziraphale looked away for a minute, grabbing the lube and handing it to Crowley. “Open yourself up, please, dear. I want to watch your face.”

Crowley groaned but accepted the lube. Scooting back a little on his legs, he opened the little tube, put some lubricant on his fingers, and reached behind himself to his hole, massaging it.

“That’s it,” Aziraphale encouraged him, taking his cock in hand and stroking it, watching Crowley’s face intently. “You look so lovely like this, dear. Your face tells me how much you’re enjoying this. I can’t wait to see what it does when I’m fucking you.”

Crowley groaned and added a second finger, sliding them in and out. Aziraphale leaned forward and started pressing ardent kisses to Crowley’s chest, licking and sucking his nipples, worshiping him.

“Hurry, darling, I can’t wait to fuck you,” Aziraphale urged between kisses and nips, his hand now pumping both their cocks.

Crowley hissed a swear, then pulled his two fingers out and added a third, swearing under his breath. His head was rocked back and his eyes closed, nearly overwhelmed by the sensations. He carefully avoided his prostate, afraid that if he pressed against that little spot, he’d be done for. The fingers in his arsehole stretched him delicously, but he couldn’t wait to feel Aziraphale’s thick cock filling him. He’d been dreaming about it for weeks, and now it was time.

“I’m - I’m ready,” he said in a somewhat shaky voice, leveling his head to look at Aziraphale.

The blond man’s blue irises were nearly gone, his pupils were blown so wide. “Come here, my darling,” he cooed.

Crowley did so at once, sliding forward, his fingers still lodged inside himself. He removed his fingers at a gentle tug from Aziraphale’s hand and raised up. Aziraphale used his hand to position himself at Crowley’s entrance, and Crowley began to sink down onto him. The blunt pressure grew more and more intense as he lowered himself slowly, Aziraphale murmuring praise and encouragement. At last, he felt a pop and knew he’d been breached.

“So good, Crowley, you feel so good around me,” Aziraphale praised, stroking Crowley’s thighs, clenching and releasing his hands. “You take my cock so well.”

Crowley couldn’t answer with anything more than a moan, all his concentration was focused on where he was sliding lower onto Aziraphale’s thick cock. The stretch was intense - three fingers could never adequately prepare him for Aziraphale’s girth - but he relished every bit of it.

Finally, he’d taken Aziraphale as far as he could and was resting on his lap. He opened his eyes again to see Aziraphale watching him carefully. He would have smiled if he’d been able, but all he could do was lean forward and claim his angel’s soft, pink mouth in a toe-curling kiss.

They were still kissing when Crowley started to raise himself again, slowly, then lowered himself back down, moaning into the kiss when the head of Aziraphale’s cock dragged his prostate. He raised and lowered himself again, a little faster, fucking himself on Azirapahle’s hard cock. Aziraphale’s hands were restless, caressing and gripping and roaming, but Crowley’s remained in the same place: cradling his angel’s face to hold him still for kissing.

The kiss finally broke when Crowley started riding him harder and faster, his head thrown back again and ragged noises being torn from his throat. Aziraphale leaned forward to lick and suck his chest, his hands clutching the globes of Crowley’s arse, guiding him. He murmured filthy encouragements against Crowley’s skin, and Crowley soaked them up the way parched ground absorbs rainfall.

“You feel so good, Crowley. You’re so hot and tight, oh, my darling. How I love fucking you...”

“Aziraphale, angel…” Crowley managed, but couldn’t say anymore. His thighs were burning and he was overcome with glorious sensations, feeling a burst of pleasure with every rise and fall of his body.

“That’s it, dear. Ride me, take your pleasure from me. You’re so lovely like this.”

Crowley was getting close. He couldn’t form words, too overwhelmed to do so, and simply clutched his angels’ shoulders, riding him as hard and fast as he could manage. He had the passing thought to touch himself, but knew if he did, he’d come right away, and he didn’t want this to end. He never wanted this to end. But his cock was leaking more and more and he knew the time was near. Still, he wanted Aziraphale to come first, to find his pleasure before Crowley.

As if he’d heard Crowley’s thoughts, Aziraphale said, “I’m close, darling. I’m getting so close. Going to come for you. Are you ready?”

Crowley nodded - at least, he tried to. His body was running entirely on autopilot, his hands clutching Aziraphale’s head, his thighs burning, his arse full. He could feel Aziraphale’s hands digging into the flesh of his bum hard enough to leave bruises, and his angel’s harsh breaths blew against Crowley’s damp skin. Aziraphale had started to whimper, always a sign of impending release, and Crowley worked harder. All he wanted out of life in that moment was to feel Aziraphale’s release, to know that he’d brought his angel the ultimate pleasure. But he was so close himself…

Aziraphale broke first, crying out, his eyes screwed shut, his hips thrusting up into Crowley. The additional pressure on his prostate was all he needed, and Crowley released with a shout of Aziraphale’s name, his vision whiting out and his soul flying far above the clouds where only angels roam.

~*~O~*~

A short while later found them cleaned up and somewhat presentable. Crowley had pulled his pants and trousers back on, and Aziraphale had replaced all of his clothes, but hadn’t buttoned them back up. Crowley was lying on the couch with his head in his angel’s lap, eyes closed in bliss while Aziraphale’s right hand played lightly with his long hair. Aziraphale’s other hand had been stroking Crowley’s bare chest, but Crowley had caught his fingers and loosely twined his own with them, caressing and playing with them lazily.

“That was… fucking wonderful,” he remarked, his eyes still closed as he relived the last hour. A smile played at his lips, and he was sure he looked rather goofy, but didn’t care.

There was a smile in Aziraphale’s voice. “So you like it when I’m a bit bossy?”

“God, fuck, yes. That was amazingly hot, angel. You should do it again sometime.”

Aziraphale chuckled. “I can certainly try, but I’m not sure how I could. I’m not usually like that, as you know. To be perfectly honest, I’m not entirely sure what came over me. I think I just needed you so badly, dear.”

“Well, whatever it was is welcome anytime.”

“Noted.”

Crowley took Aziraphale’s fingers and brought them to his lips. When he’d kissed each of Aziraphale’s thick digits lightly, he sighed happily and lowered their hands back to his chest.

“Comfy?” Aziraphale asked.

“Very. Are you?”

“My darling, I could hold you like this forever.”

Crowley purred a little and closed his eyes again. “How long can you stay?”

“How long do you want me here?”

“Forever, angel,” he said, looking up and into Aziraphale’s blue eyes. “I want you forever.”

Aziraphale smiled down at him. “I booked a return flight Thursday morning. The nineteenth.”

Crowley pouted. “That’s only three days.”

“Yes, but you have to work, dear. And you’ll be coming home soon after that. We’ll be together for Christmas.”

“I wanted to take you to London, but I don’t think we’ll have time,” Crowley said sheepishly.

Aziraphale stroked his head. “I don’t care where we spend the holiday. Just so long as I’m with you, that’s all I care about.”

“We’ll be together. I promise.”

“I believe you.”

They were silent for a while, each lost in his own happy thoughts. It was such a perfect moment, wrapped in the cocoon of each other, and Crowley was happier than he’d ever been in his life. Those three words bubbled up again, and this time, he didn’t fight.

“Angel?”

“Yes, beloved?”

“I have something to tell you.”

“You can tell me anything, Crowley. You know that.”

His heart was pounding so hard he was concerned Aziraphale would feel it, but he’d started this, he had to finish now.

“I never believed in luck or fate or any of that rot. I figured it was all shit. But now, I know I was wrong. I know because of the way all this happened. If Beezle and Gabriel hadn’t come up with this little plan, we might never have met. And I wouldn’t have fallen in love with you.”

The hand stroking Crowleys’ hair froze, and he could feel Aziraphale go stiff.

“What are you saying, Crowley?”

Crowley sat up slowly and positioned himself so he was sitting beside Aziraphale, his body turned towards him, taking his hand in his. Aziraphale’s eyes were wide, watching every move, and Crowley sent up a little prayer that he hadn’t ruined everything. But Aziraphale was waiting, so Crowley swallowed his nerves and spoke again.

“I fell in love with you, angel. I am in love with you. All my life, I’ve never understood love songs, but now I do. All of them are about you - about us. I’ve never felt like this in my life, and I know I’ll never feel this way about anyone else ever again. You’re everything I want - you’re all I want, and I just love you so much, Aziraphale. Could you ever possibly love me in return?”

Aziraphale’s eyes were swimming with tears. “Oh, my Crowley, my dear boy, do you mean it?”

“With my whole heart, angel.”

Aziraphale reached for him, pulling him in and holding him tight. Crowley just wrapped his arms around him, hoping this was a good sign. His angel sniffed and Crowley prodded. “Aziraphale?”

The other man let out a huff of a laugh. “Oh, you daft thing. I love you so much. I just never dreamed you’d say it - certainly not first. I thought surely I’d have to be the brave one, and I’m such a coward.”

Crowley released the hug and sat back from him, cupping his cheek and using his thumb to wipe away a stray tear. “I love you, angel. And nothing will ever change that.”

Aziraphale’s lip wobbled. “I love you, too. Now, kiss me before I lose my mind and blubber more, like a small child.”

Crowley grinned, but didn’t waste a moment. He leaned in to claim the lips of Aziraphale Fell, the love of his life - and the man who loved him in return.

He truly was the luckiest bastard who’d ever walked the face of the earth.