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if spirits embrace

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“So we’re supposed to. Uh,” Crowley begins, and then stops.

Aziraphale doesn’t blame him. The first time he’d read the prophecy it’d seemed vague and unhelpful, but then they’d worked out that the “fire” referenced was probably Hellfire, that Heaven and Hell were coming for them, and that the only way out was to. Well.

“Seems that way,” Aziraphale says, with far more evenness than he feels. His face is the colour of just having been told by a 17th century witch to mix essences with the demon one adores. That is to say, it’s very, very red.

“Is that ... is that even possible?” says Crowley.

“I suppose we’ll be finding out shortly.”

Crowley shifts closer, looking him in the eye. His glasses were discarded earlier in the evening, after about the 3rd bottle in. Neither of them are particularly drunk any longer, but Aziraphale is still somewhat distracted by his eyes, which he’s always thought are rather lovely. It isn’t helping the situation.

“This is alright with you, then?” Crowley asks, his voice low and gentle.

‘Alright’ seems far from the way Aziraphale would describe it. The prospect is electrifying, and also terrifying. He might discorporate from sheer nerves, and if they make it past that he’s still not sure they won’t discorporate from some sort of reaction between their angelic and demonic natures. Undoubtedly, no other angel and demon have ever attempted anything remotely this intimate. It’s terrifying and he’s going to discorporate and he’s going to do it anyway.

“Yes,” he answers. “It’s alright.” He swallows, and meets Crowley’s eyes— such beautiful eyes. “What about you? This is just as much of a ...” an act of trust, an intimacy “... a risk for you as it is for me.”

“Oh, it’s quite alright, no need to worry about me,” says Crowley, everything but his words saying the exact opposite. He’s trembling, and his fingers are digging into his jeans. Aziraphale thinks he may be sweating enough to leave darker patches where his hands are resting, but then again it might be just a trick of the light. “Yeah, no, yeah, let’s do it,” he finishes, in that decisive tone that begs Aziraphale to politely overlook all the anxiety he’s showing.

So he does. “Well then, if it’s decided.” He gives a little wiggle from head to toe that comes off as innocent and eager, as if they aren’t about to enter into each other, body and soul. As if this isn’t dangerous and unprecedented. As if there’s no death sentence hanging over their heads to precipitate all of this. “Shall we, er, retire to bed, then?”

Crowley snaps his fingers and Aziraphale’s instantly lying next to him on his black silk sheets. He wonders if the miracle is because Crowley doesn’t trust his legs right now. Aziraphale certainly wouldn’t trust his own.

They’re in Crowley’s bed together. Or on it, at any rate. The room is unfamiliar— he’s only been in Crowley’s flat a handful of times, and never this deep into the labyrinth. All six sides are brutal concrete, like the rest of the flat, and the only thing in the room aside from the bed is one small potted plant. It’s only because he knows he’s in Crowley’s home that it’s not painfully uncomfortable to be here.

Crowley is still shivering, seeming somehow curled in on himself despite his long body stretching from the pillows to the foot of the bed. Aziraphale can feel his body heat, though, and it’s pleasant, it’s soothing. It wears the rough edges off of every spike of anxiety that’s flashing through him.

“Are you really sure?” Crowley says, shifting against the pillow like he can’t quite get comfortable. “After everything you said?”

“We have no other choice.” It comes out more sadly than he’d meant it. “No, that’s not right. What I mean is, if they’re going to kill us anyway, it means we can do anything we like.” Crowley is close, and they can do anything they like, and that means there’s only so nervous that Aziraphale can be. “This is where I want to be, if I can do anything I like,” he says, and as he says it, he knows.

He’d been flustered and nervous, but he knows now. A smile creeps into his expression, that same secret adoration he feels whenever his mind alights on the subject of Crowley. They’re together, and that’s alright. Whatever Heaven and Hell are going to do to punish them, they’re already going to do. There’s no need to pretend any more.

He finds Crowley’s hand and squeezes it.

Crowley finally seems to accept, the tension leaving him in a long breath. “Right. Me. You want—” He swallows, taking a moment to believe it. “You want to be here with me.” He looks around the room and then turns his face against the pillow. Not just next to me, as a friendly acquaintance, he’s saying with his body language. In my room. In my bed. In my body.

Aziraphale understands. He nudges Crowley’s face upwards to get another look at his eyes. Crowley’s cues are the only ones worth heeding, now.

“I’m here because I want to be,” Aziraphale says.

“Angel,” Crowley whispers, a crack in his voice. His hand slides into Aziraphale’s hair, creeping like a snake, and he jerks Aziraphale against him to bring their lips together. There’s a second of awkwardness— they bump together a bit too hard, and their dry lips scrape against each other like paper on paper. But then Crowley parts his lips just slightly, there’s a bit of a turn of the head, and— oh!

Aziraphale’s body relaxes in a wave, like sinking into warm sand. His eyes fall closed. His arms wind around Crowley. And their mouths are moving nearly of their own accord, seeking more of each other. Crowley makes a soft noise, the most miraculous noise he’s ever heard, and he suddenly understands why humans make such a fuss over this. Aziraphale can feel, like a buzzing under the skin, their essences brushing up against each other from the contact. They’ll have to do a lot more than this if they want to fulfil Agnes’s prophecy, but for now the metaphysical brush of self to self is delightful enough to just enjoy. The potential is thrilling.

They part for only an instant, and kiss again. It’s longer and deeper this time, the buzzing of their essences fraying together, resonating and reverberating. There’s an echo between them, a kind of static like the crash of water around jagged rocks. Everywhere that their skin touches, they’re melding sweetly together, but it’s not enough, and it’s almost painful. It builds up between them until it’s too much to ignore, and they’re forced apart by the incomprehensible strain of it.

Crowley’s all flushed, lips wet and swollen. Aziraphale wants nothing more than to keep kissing him, and that’s exactly what Crowley wants, too, judging by the look on his face.

His eyes are dark, with no illusion of human sclera, a hungry predator’s eyes. Aziraphale finds himself drawn to them yet again, and for a moment he forgets about kissing to look at him, really look at him. His form is human-shaped, and his wings are hidden, but in this moment it seems impossible not to see what he really is. He’s long since miracled away the grime from the day’s ordeal, but his face is still ash-marked. He is a being of fire and darkness. An angel, fallen from grace. The Serpent of Eden. A demon.

He will never not be a demon, and Aziraphale will never not be utterly, hopelessly in love with him.

“You stopped,” Crowley says. The disappointment doesn’t quite reach his words, but there’s an echo of it hiding behind his nonchalant tone.

“I was just thinking how much I love you,” Aziraphale says before he can think better of it.

Crowley flinches as if Aziraphale had punched him in the stomach, and for an instant Aziraphale’s stricken with the thought that he did something wrong. “Aziraphale,” Crowley cries, his voice half-gone, wrapping himself around Aziraphale like he’s never wanted to be anywhere else. He digs his fingers into Aziraphale’s shirt and kisses him again, hard and desperate, pulling against him as if he’ll starve to death without his affection. Aziraphale curls his hand in his hair and strokes his cheek and runs his hand under his rumpled shirt, every touch and gesture of affection swallowed up by a black hole of desire, of need, of desperation.

Rough static floods his ears. Every inch of skin that’s not touching Crowley grates, protesting their continued separation. Neither of them cares. Crowley’s desire is a pull on Aziraphale, both entirely welcome and entirely irresistible, until he wants nothing more than to show Crowley all the sweetness he deserves.

When Crowley’s finally something like sated, they pull back, panting into the narrow space between them. “Thank you,” Crowley says, and Aziraphale doesn’t think that’s fair, that he should be the only one thanked for such an experience. But he senses that perhaps saying ‘thank you’ was what Crowley needed, after that. He doesn’t argue.

“We’ll need to undress before we can go any further, don’t you think?” he says instead, stroking Crowley’s hair. It’s soft, and it catches the light in different ways as he disturbs it, shifting through a spectrum of beautiful colours. How wondrous, to be allowed to touch like this. How kind of Crowley, to offer himself to Aziraphale like this.

Crowley nods, and presses his face into Aziraphale’s cheek as he snaps his fingers. It’s a slow, lazy miracle, their clothes fading away item by item and coming back into existence neatly folded on the floor beside the plant. The last thing to go is Crowley’s socks, and Aziraphale has a tiny epiphany regarding how Crowley looks in just his socks that he mentally files away for later.

He shivers— the room’s a bit drafty.

Crowley makes a wordless murmur, and they’re instantly under the covers. On top of the sheets is a soft and cosy blanket that looks like it belongs in the room above Aziraphale’s bookshop (maybe it does). It looks out of place in this cold place of severe lines, and Aziraphale falls just a bit more in love with Crowley.

“Thank you, love,” Aziraphale whispers into his hair.

“Of course,” Crowley says. “I love you, after all.”

It pulls on something inside of Aziraphale, and the only thing he can do is kiss Crowley again.

It’s different, this time. There’s no resistance any more, nothing between them to prevent the kiss from turning into something much less physical, a slipping into each other that makes them spark and shiver. Aziraphale wonders how he ever could have imagined himself content with kissing, not when it’s possible to be with Crowley so fully. It’s warmth and softness and things less analogous to physical sensations— the bone-deep weariness from a day that’s gone on far too long mixed with the churning anxiety both of them still feel at what they’re doing. And over everything, under everything, through everything, is the pulse of love. I love you, says Crowley, and Aziraphale can feel it everywhere. And then … and then Aziraphale answers, and draws Crowley deeper into himself, and there’s a part of them that’s no longer Crowley and no longer Aziraphale, it’s Crowley-and-Aziraphale, their addition, their combination, their union.

He wants more. Crowley doesn’t press— oh, patient, lovely Crowley, even after six thousand years, not willing to push this an inch further than Aziraphale is comfortable with. But Aziraphale is comfortable, he does want, and he presses into Crowley’s essence as deep as he can.

There’s a moment in the middle— a moment of perfect balance where Aziraphale is exactly as much Crowley as he is Aziraphale. I love you, he says again, but he can’t tell which one is saying it, or even if they’re saying it at all or just feeling their love powerfully enough to blot out all other sensation. It’s a flood of pure euphoria, and he’s drowning in it. Both of them are— Aziraphale sees what Crowley’s feeling, he knows it. There’s nothing Aziraphale wants to do but keep pushing into this feeling, as far as he can take it.

And then the point of balance is past, the flood of sensation fades, and they’re wavering back into reality. Aziraphale’s eyes are squeezed shut for a few long moments before he opens them and realizes he’s staring into his own face.

“Aziraphale?” Crowley asks, and the voice he speaks with isn’t his own, it’s Aziraphale’s. It’s not quite the way Aziraphale speaks— too high, for one thing— and it’s endearing how it’s slightly unsuited to Crowley.

“Crowley,” Aziraphale answers, smiling shyly. They’ve done it. There’s a way for them to succeed. They will not die.

“That was … that was pretty alright, wasn’t it,” Crowley says, his face (Aziraphale’s face!) blooming into a blush.

“I’d say so.”

“D’you think we’d better check, you know, to make sure we can swap back?” he says, which sounds like a wonderful idea. Aziraphale kisses him for it, and they’ve barely even started before there’s that slip again, the barrier of their physical bodies proving unexpectedly easy to breach. He’s rushing into Crowley and Crowley is rushing into him, riding the pulse of love together. It’s over much too soon, and Aziraphale comes back into reality again, in his own body, Crowley propped up on one elbow and grinning down at him.

“This will work,” Crowley says. His other hand is resting gently on Aziraphale’s hip. “Agnes Nutter is a brilliant woman.”

“You’re brilliant,” Aziraphale says, too drunk on love and Crowley to say anything else.

Crowley snorts. “Yeah? What did I do?”

Aziraphale moves closer again so that he can tuck his face into the crook of Crowley’s neck. “You saw what I needed a long, long time before I did,” he murmurs with soft affection. “And you knew just what to do to make sure I’d get it.”

Crowley’s face becomes gentle. “I wasn’t sure we were going to make it, in there. When you said we weren’t friends … felt like the whole damn world was going to fall apart right there.”

Aziraphale squeezes him. “I’m sorry. I thought ... I thought I had the right of it, and I could make everything okay, and keep you safe—”

“It’s alright,” Crowley says, back to running a hand through Aziraphale’s hair. “I still knew you cared about me.” It’s not alright, it might not be alright for many years to come. But Crowley is offering forgiveness, and Aziraphale accepts it gratefully.

“I did, I promise I did!” Aziraphale cries, and Crowley squeezes him tighter. “I always did. From when you first talked to me on the wall.”

Crowley smiles at him like the fact that Aziraphale is there in front of him is the most miraculous thing in the universe. It’s not unfamiliar, that smile. After a moment of basking in it, Aziraphale leans forward, and then they’re mixing again, just as wonderful as last time. He thinks that perhaps they’ve gotten a better hang of it now, even, because there’s more friction somehow, more points of them touching and connecting and interacting. It’s radiant. Aziraphale doesn’t know how they’re ever going to manage to tear themselves away from each other to do anything else.

There’s a shudder of bliss, and then they’re coming down, back into each other’s bodies. Aziraphale barely has time to take a breath before Crowley is taking his face in both hands and kissing him eagerly, lovingly, passionately. Aziraphale clings to Crowley as he kisses back— they’re both shaking, and who could blame them? Aziraphale meets Crowley’s frantic movements with just as much enthusiasm, and in barely a second they’re mingling again, rushing back toward their bodies, the oneness impossible to resist.

Not that we’re supposed to resist it, Aziraphale adds hastily, knowing Crowley can on some level hear his thoughts. He doesn’t want Crowley to think he’s still afraid he’s disobeying God by loving him.

“Oh, so you think God planned it like this, hm?” Crowley asks when he’s settled back in his own corporation. The impertinent grin on his face is many times more charming than it has any right to be. “You think She’s up there looking at us in bed together, thinking ‘All part of the Ineffable Plan’?”

“Oh, stop being an arse,” Aziraphale says. There’s absolutely no genuine irritation in his words, only a pleased and flustered affection. He pulls Crowley in for another kiss and Crowley, the cheeky bastard, wraps his serpent’s tongue all the way around Aziraphale’s. It shouldn’t be as enjoyable as it is, but he knows that right now there’s little Crowley could do that wouldn’t have him completely enraptured. It occurs to him that if he had human genitals rather than his natural sexlessness, they would probably be quite aroused.

Kissing turns into mingling again, of course, and this time Aziraphale doesn’t even notice them starting to merge. It’s only when he hears Crowley’s thoughts start to filter in that he realizes they’re no longer solely in physical space.

He doesn’t hear words, for the most part (and “hear” isn’t exactly an accurate term to begin with). But he can feel things that he knows don’t belong to his own mind. A worry about sullying Aziraphale with his demonic essence. Grief for the car that was lost to the flames today. Fixations on particular parts of Aziraphale’s body— his hair, the curve of his neck, the small of his back. They both flare up in embarrassment as Aziraphale senses that one.

They hit the moment of perfect balance, sharing in each other’s bliss, and then it fades, and Aziraphale is in Crowley’s body again and— oh. He notices this time that Crowley has not been opting for sexlessness, and he notices because Crowley’s vulva is currently very wet. Crowley is attracted to him, Crowley is turned on by him, and the thoughts do further pleasant things to that area.

“Aziraphale …” Crowley says, and his voice is more breathless than it’s been. “Can I ...”

Aziraphale kisses down the side of his face and nods, granting permission without asking what it’s for. He has never trusted Crowley more completely than in this moment.

It’s possible that he has never trusted anyone quite this much before this moment.

Crowley’s breath hitches, and he starts to move his hips against Aziraphale’s. The sensation against Aziraphale’s groin is lovely, and it’s even more so when he realizes that Crowley is making changes. The body that Crowley is currently occupying is now significantly less sexless than it had been a minute ago. Crowley is hard, and grinding against Aziraphale, and breathing hot into his shoulder, and Aziraphale feels like he could expire from the sheer sensation of it.

“Fuck,” Crowley gasps. The sound melts down Aziraphale’s spine and pools in his stomach, and he tilts his hips up to move in time with Crowley’s squirming. Crowley’s hand moves into Aziraphale’s hair, where he tugs, hard, and Aziraphale lets out a wordless sound of appreciation and pleasure.

“Might I …” Aziraphale begins, and he has to stop because he loses himself in the sensation of their bodies pressing against each other. He tries again. “Can I take you?”

Crowley makes a strangled noise. He shifts their bodies into position frantically, like he’ll never get another chance in his life. He presses in, and Aziraphale moans with the fullness of it, the stretch of his body around Crowley. His muscles are clenching and relaxing around Crowley in little shocks of pleasure. He gasps into Crowley’s skin, noises that only vaguely resemble words, and oh, if he could get any closer to him he would.

Then they’re melding into each other again, the edges of their selves mixing before Aziraphale can notice it’s happening. He can still feel Crowley in him, but as they become more entangled with each other he can start to feel himself in Crowley, too, and Crowley feeling both of those things at once. Aziraphale’s body moves in Crowley’s, and neither of them is quite sure who did the moving, but it sends a jolt of pleasure between them, echoing uncontrollably through their resonance with each other.

He can see all of Crowley, even the fragile, tenuous parts. Crowley speaks— or doesn’t, really, but his thoughts are written on the essence of him, laid bare for Aziraphale. He’s in bliss, of course, but beyond that is a relief that Aziraphale is surprised to see. I never thought this would happen, angel. I never thought it could be like this. Aziraphale’s cracked open with wanting, and wanting to be wanted. He sees, and is seen in turn. Crowley seeps into every last unloving corner of him, hedonism and self-righteousness and fear and callousness. He accepts Aziraphale into himself anyway.

And it’s too much, it’s more emotion than their vessels can handle, their bodies are joined and their souls are commingled and it’s too much, Aziraphale feels himself release into Crowley and around Crowley, feels him arch and shake with the pleasure that reverberates through their bodies together. It feels like they’ll never pull apart, like they could never want anything more perfectly than this, to be united in every way.

Aziraphale slides into his own body, exhausted and breathing heavily. He pulls out of Crowley and wearily miracles away the slick and the sweat and the mess. Crowley’s hand is on his cheek, and Aziraphale shivers at the touch. Crowley’s seeing him again, and he’s silent with awe. His fingers trail rapturously across Aziraphale’s cheek, caressing his lips. He’s looking at Aziraphale as if he’s given Crowley something he’s unworthy of, and Aziraphale feels taken apart all over again. No, he wants to say. I’m the one who’s blessed by this. I’m the one receiving grace of which I am unworthy. The words bubble up in his throat, but can’t seem to make it past his lips.

The corner of Crowley’s mouth quirks up, his eyes clever and mirthful, as if he knows something Aziraphale doesn’t. He smiles fondly and brings their lips together in a chaste kiss.

Their bodies have spent their sexual energy, but they spend the whole night mingling into each other, feeling that lovely moment of perfect balance over and over. They do it probably hundreds of times, unable to stay apart for very long now that they’ve tasted this togetherness. Of course this is the only thing they want to do. Of course after millennia of painful apartness all they want is to run themselves together until they can’t remember what it was like to be alone.

By morning it takes barely a handshake and a thought before they’re melding into each other and re-emerging in each other’s forms.

The first sunbeams of dawn start to creep into the room, squeezing through the gaps in Crowley’s utilitarian blinds. They make Aziraphale think of eternity. Their eternity. He could weep from the realization. If they make it through whatever Heaven and Hell are planning for them, they can be like this forever. They can go out for lunch, come back to Crowley’s flat, and say hello to the plants. They can lie down together in Crowley’s bed, being as intimate as they like, for as long as they like.

There’s a strength in that hope. He has what he needs, now, to face the wrath of Hell and come back alive. He has to come back, because he’ll be carrying something of Crowley’s, that he’ll have a duty to return safely. Not the body, no.

He curls his fingers into Crowley’s damp hair, and Crowley gives a sleepy murmur, pressing himself into the crook of Aziraphale’s neck. Aziraphale could burst from how much he loves him.

“We will win,” he whispers against his skin. “It’s going to be lovely.”