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To Love and To Need

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It was dawn, and there was a snake in Aziraphale’s bed.

It was hardly the first time he’d found himself with this problem - or, at least, something resembling this problem. Crowley was really, at the end of the day, a snake pressed into a person-shaped form. It wasn’t really that surprising that said form sometimes forgot which shape it was supposed to be. And as lovely and perfect as he found Crowley’s human-shaped corporation, Aziraphale had to admit that in many ways, the serpent form actually suited him better.

When he was least aware of himself, Crowley shifted into his default snake self, which was to say, approximately four meters long and over a hundred and fifty kilos. He was more than capable of shifting his size, Aziraphale knew - he had once spent an entire week roughly the size of a baby corn snake and hibernated in one of the angel’s old mittens. Aziraphale had set the mitten in front of his fireplace for maximum warmth. That particular hibernation had come on fast and with no warning. 

But on the other side of the proverbial coin, Aziraphale was extremely aware that Crowley could be much larger - once, many eons ago when humanity was still in its prehistoric stage, the angel had been guiding a tribe’s worth of children to safety after saving them from a terrible bleeding sickness that had come over their village. He’d been able to save the children, but not the adults, and said children needed care. During the journey, though, they’d been accosted by a leopard. The silent ambush predator had caught Aziraphale off guard, cornering one of the smaller children when his back was turned, until out of the gloom of night a monster at least ten meters long had emerged, snapping the leopard up in massive, fang-lined jaws and dragging it off into the darkness. Aziraphale had needed to amend the children’s memories but none of them had been harmed.

Crowley had also later denied any involvement but Aziraphale was not fooled. The demon was soft for children and always had been. 

But when all was fair and even, if Crowley was inclined to be a serpent for whatever mysterious reason, he tended to be as he currently was - four meters long and about a hundred-fifty kilos. 

And, Aziraphale knew from experience, convincing that much sleepy snake to do anything was a lost cause from the start. 

He sighed, testing his strength against Crowley’s coils. He wasn’t wrapped particularly tightly around the angel, and should push come to shove, Aziraphale could absolutely break free. But it seemed a shame to be forceful when his darling was so peaceful. 

Only, it was rather late in the morning and Aziraphale had become quite peckish. A spot of brunch sounded like just the ticket - perhaps a gently poached egg on toast with hollandaise sauce and a touch of fresh tarragon. And mimosas. Definitely mimosas. Yes, Aziraphale thought, that would be perfect. All he had to do was figure out how to wiggle out from Crowley’s grasp.

He could miracle himself out. It was an option, but he and Crowley had agreed to limit the miracles to avoid attracting undue attention from certain parties. And furthermore, Crowley was particularly attuned to divine miracles. The pop of divinity in the room would surely awaken the demon, and… well, Aziraphale would rather he sleep.

He’d hoped, when he woke up that first morning before dawn with Crowley naked and glued to his side, that the demon would finally start to settle. Their relationship had finally shifted towards something deeper, something Aziraphale hoped would at last soothe that undercurrent of panic that always seemed so close to erupting in his demon. He knew, and had known for quite some time, that was at least partially his fault. Too many mixed signals - of course the poor darling would be frazzled. 

But he’d never expected that Crowley’s skittish tendencies would get worse.

If he’d thought Crowley clingy before, he was wrong. Crowley could hardly bear to be separated for even the briefest intervals. Crowley did best when he had a clear objective - for example, Get to Tadfield Airbase. All else had faded in Crowley’s mind. Hows and whens and whys were for others to worry about. Crowley would bend physics to accomplish his goal with single-minded determination. In the absence of clear goals, Crowley floundered. And so, the demon seemed to have decided his only goal was to be plastered to Aziraphale’s side.

Now, apparently, some part of Crowley had decided to up the ante.

“Really, now,” Aziraphale huffed, attempting to wiggle free in vain. Crowley’s coiling, sinuous muscles rippled as he tightened incrementally around the angel’s body, emitting a sound somewhere between a soft hiss and a purr. Aziraphale craned his neck but couldn’t see his beloved’s head - it was probably buried somewhere underneath languorous length. He sighed again, realizing there was nothing for it. He didn’t want to wake Crowley, but he couldn’t see another way out of this particular pickle. It was too bad. Crowley was sleeping so soundly, and he hadn’t been sleeping well at all of late.

“Crowley, darling, I need you,” Aziraphale finally said. He wasn’t particularly loud about it and saw no need to move. That phrase, or some form of it, always had the same response.

The coiled form around him suddenly moved as one, the sound of shifting scales filling the room. Crowley’s great broad head emerged from somewhere around where the pillows ought to be, forked tongue tasting the air and unblinking yellow eyes regarding him blearily. In this form, his head was roughly the width of a small beach ball, massive jaws parting slightly to allow him to flick his tongue out. Aziraphale smiled, feeling a rush of affection as that head slid towards him, nosing under his arm. He dragged his nails down the scales at the back of Crowley’s skull and into his body, a sensitive spot he particularly enjoyed being scratched.

“What do you need, angel?” Crowley’s voice emerged from those jaws. There were no lips to move, no human shaped tongue or even vocal cords to form sounds, but his voice emerged just the same as always, hitched in a low, seductive purr.

“You’ve got me in a bit of a tangle, darling,” Aziraphale noted gently.

Crowley hummed thoughtfully, angling his head to slide up the angel’s chest. Again, the strong bands of his body clenched ever so slightly. The weight of him was comforting, Aziraphale thought. He wouldn’t be opposed to spending a night like this, especially if Crowley liked it. But he was peckish. He stroked the underside of Crowley’s great jaw with his other hand, enjoying the smooth scales.

“‘M’rather pleased with it, myself,” Crowley mumbled sleepily, his tongue tickling Aziraphale’s ear. A flicker of heat sparked somewhere in his spine, and Aziraphale smiled.

“I was thinking brunch,” he suggested as Crowley slipped over his shoulder, coiling around his body again. 

“Then let’s get you some brunch,” Crowley purred, and suddenly, the giant serpent in Aziraphale’s bed disappeared and was replaced by a man-shaped demon, naked and kneeling over him with a sleepy, seductive grin. His hair was wild, going in every direction, and his canines were still a bit too long and pointy, and his eyes were fully serpentine, but in truth, Aziraphale couldn’t imagine a time when he looked lovelier. 

“My beautiful darling,” he sighed, reaching up to cup Crowley’s jaw delicately. His demon leaned into the contact, yellow eyes sliding shut with a contented hum. “You are so lovely,” Aziraphale continued, watching goose flesh raced down Crowley’s arms, pleased. It hadn’t escaped his notice how his serpent responded to praise, and he rather appreciated having a tool that came so naturally to him. 

Sleepy snake eyes opened, eyeing Aziraphale’s lips with want. 

Ask me for it, Aziraphale thought, struggling not to lean towards Crowley. He did wet his lips with his tongue, which was probably unfair, considering how Crowley’s eyes locked on the movement with a kind of helpless wonder. 

But then, something else passed over his lover’s eyes and Crowley leaned away, more alert, that hunted look coming over him as it so often did of late.

“Better get dressed. Brunch and all,” he mumbled, rolling off the bed with his usual haphazard grace. He snapped his fingers, suddenly dressed in his usual sleek and modern style, and bounded out of the bedroom. Aziraphale was left on the bed, frowning at the space Crowley had occupied.

That, if Aziraphale had his count right, made thirty-seven times that Crowley had fled from a prospective intimate encounter with him. Crowley. Mister I’m-a-dangerous-demon Anthony J. Crowley, the original tempter and serpent in the Garden, fleeing from sex. It was the only time Crowley willingly parted from him. 

At first, Aziraphale had been worried it was him. That Crowley had just been caught up in the moment after their row, swept along for what was, to Aziraphale, something monumental , but for Crowley, had been unwelcome. But then, when Aziraphale outright propositioned Crowley, he’d found himself with a lapful of demon so fast his head had spun. So clearly attraction and desire were not the issue.

Aziraphale hoped not, at least. Crowley was an excellent actor but with Aziraphale, he wore his emotions on his sleeve, and there was no way the absolutely wrecked expression on his face right before he orgasmed was an act. It couldn’t be, Aziraphale refused to believe it.

Which meant that the truth of the matter was something much more complicated. 

So Aziraphale had tested the waters. And after a few weeks, he could conclude that if he made the offer, clearly and irrefutably, Crowley was swift and decisive in his response, and his answer was always enthusiastic agreement. But if he hinted at his desires, Crowley either pretended it was a joke or that he didn’t catch Aziraphale’s true meaning. And Crowley never took the initiative. If he was in a position where he could take the initiative, his go-to tactic had been to run for it. 

With a sigh, Aziraphale got out of bed and dressed. He realized, in a huff, that Crowley had used a miracle to get dressed and they’d agreed to be careful about those. He refused to stoop to the same level, though, and dressed himself the mundane way before joining Crowley downstairs.

The demon was on that mobile phone of his, swiping his thumb across the screen distractedly. He looked up as Aziraphale came down the stairs and grinned. In spite of his annoyance, Aziraphale felt himself grinning back. How could he not? His demon, just there, smiling at him like he’d hung the moon, molten-gold eyes locked on his own with undisguised adoration. Love radiated off him, so bright and so intense that Aziraphale had learned to push it to the background of his mind early on, or else it would overwhelm him. 

He no longer had to do that, he realized, his smile growing. He could bask in it, cherish it. He could let it overwhelm him as often as he pleased now. No one could say a word to him about it.

“Have a place in mind for your brunch, angel?” Crowley asked, offering his arm as Aziraphale approached. 

“Well, I suppose we could go to the usual spot,” Aziraphale started uncertainly.

“Or,” Crowley cut in gently, waving his phone. “We could try this new little joint. It’s just here in Soho, and it’s getting rave reviews.” Aziraphale hummed thoughtfully, though in his heart he was already prepared to try whatever Crowley suggested. He just enjoyed the ritual of it, the half-hearted temptation offered by his demon, the pleasure said demon took when he accepted it. “Guess what their specialty is.”

“Is it that avocado toast all the young people are enjoying?” Aziraphale asked. “I’ve been quite curious about that.”

Crowley frowned, clearly taken aback by that response. “Avocado toast? You want- what the bleeding-” He started tapping furiously at his phone, letting his glasses drop down his nose to see better. “They have the- the toast thing, whatever it’s called, but if you want-”

“It’s fine, darling, I was teasing,” Aziraphale finally relented, pressing a kiss to Crowley’s shoulder. Crowley immediately relaxed.

“Blessed angel,” he muttered as Aziraphale threaded his arm through his demon’s elbow. Aziraphale knew better than to take offense, especially when Crowley could barely keep the grin off his face as they started for the door.

This, Aziraphale knew. It was familiar and steady, his demon’s cool weight reassuring at his side, guiding him along with those long legs, but never rushing. The faint scent of sulphur that tickled his nose, so achingly familiar after all these eons that it had become pleasant, grounding, or the sight of the Bentley parked illegally in front of his shop. There was a rhythm to their habits, a ritual that was fulfilling just because it was theirs. They’d only laid a new finish over the old framework, new trappings and sensations to try out while still being supported by the same relationship that had carried them so long. 

Or at least, that was how Aziraphale saw it. He was beginning to suspect Crowley might not agree.

Crowley led him to the Bentley’s passenger side and opened the door for him, just like usual. Unlike usual, though, Aziraphale went up to his toes and pressed a kiss to his demon’s cheek before he slid into the seat. Above him, Crowley gaped. 

“Darling?” Aziraphale prompted him gently. “Whenever you’re ready.”

“Right,” Crowley muttered, closing the door a bit harder than necessary before starting around the car to the driver’s side. As he did, Aziraphale settled into his seat for a good think. He only had a few moments before Crowley’s insane driving would have them at their destination.

He couldn’t fathom why Crowley kept reacting like he was being set upon by a dangerous animal that may want a cuddle or may want to bite his face off. He hardly thought he was that unpredictable - if anything, Crowley was by far the more unpredictable of the two of them! Crowley was always so open to change, so adaptable and fluid, Aziraphale had simply assumed that the change in their relationship would just be one more thing Crowley put on and made a part of himself. 

Perhaps he had assumed wrong? Was Crowley not comfortable with this change? Perhaps Crowley preferred to just be friends? No, Aziraphale decided, that couldn’t be right. Crowley was enthusiastic and he could feel the demon’s love rushing like a river. It was hard to mistake that kind of love. Maybe Crowley just wasn’t… sexual?

That gave Aziraphale pause, barely noticing as Crowley started the Bentley and pulled into the street with reckless abandon. He’d never considered that possibility before. Crowley had always seemed so blatantly sexual, with his titillating stride and sultry, gravelly voice. Everything, right down to the shoes he wore, was carefully selected to curate a very specific image, and that image was inherently sexual. Aziraphale was absolutely not immune to it - the number of times he’d trailed after Crowley, mesmerized by the swing of the demon’s hips, was frankly embarrassing. He’d assumed that image translated into action - after all, he’d not been totally chaste himself, he certainly hadn’t expected Crowley would.

Aziraphale frowned. He didn’t like this guessing game, constantly trying to decipher what his demon was about like some sort of cryptic, hellish riddle. He liked riddles, but this was absurd. 

Yes, he concluded, it was best to be up front in such matters.

“Do you not enjoy sex?” he asked out loud, perfectly reasonably in tone and volume. 

For some inexplicable reason, that was cause for Crowley to jump like he’d been splashed with holy water and nearly put the Bentley through a grocer’s storefront. 

“ What the fuck, Aziraphale?!” Crowley yelled, overcorrecting the into the other lane. Miraculously, no cars were in the way as he did. It was second nature at this point, and Aziraphale would be hard pressed to say which of them was responsible. 

“Was my question not clear?” he asked in reply.

“No, it was very fucking clear!” Crowley shrilled, looking like he’d very much like to climb unto the Bentley’s roof. At that precise moment, the Bentley chose to blast one of those symphonic “rock” songs Crowley so preferred, the ones by that Mr. Mercury fellow.

“I fail to see why-”

“Angel-” Crowley interjected loudly, before forcing himself to settle into his seat and focus on driving. “You can’t just drop questions on me like that! Build up to it, okay?”

“Very well,” Aziraphale agreed. 

“Wait,” Crowley started a tick later. “What the Heaven do you mean, do I not enjoy sex?” 

“It’s a straightforward question,” Aziraphale replied, frowning at the road in front of them. “No hidden meanings.”

“No, I got that part- I’m a bit more caught up in the ‘why the bloody Heaven would you think I don't’ part!”

“You ran away,” Aziraphale explained succinctly. That summed it up quite nicely, he thought.

“I ran away? From what? When?” Crowley snapped. “I’m a demon, I don’t-”

“Yes, yes, big scary demon, doesn’t run away from anything, I know, darling,” Aziraphale cut in, rolling his eyes. He was far too hungry for the dramatics. “And yet,” he continued. “I was there for the taking this morning, and you certainly made yourself scarce.”

Crowley paled, and Aziraphale knew he was on the right track. “Okay, so I don’t jump you one time-”

“It’s not one time,” Aziraphale interjected again, wincing. He was developing some rather awful conversation habits. “It’s been thirty-seven times-”

You’ve been counting?!” Crowley shrilled. Ah, Aziraphale realized, that was where the bad habits were coming from.

“I have, and I’ve noticed-” Crowley made one of those high pitched sounds he sometimes made when he was particularly upset, rather like a cat whose tail was caught in a bear trap. “I’ve noticed,” Aziraphale forged on. “That you always seem to… distance yourself when I leave it to you to initiate.”

Crowley made a series of sounds that bore no resemblance to actual speech. Before Aziraphale could reply, he found himself lurching forward as the Bentley squealed to a stop in front of a quaint, cozy looking cafe. 

“Oh, this looks lovely,” he cooed, and Crowley hissed.

“Yeah, nice cafe, moving on,” he growled. “Listen good, angel, because I’m only saying this once.” Aziraphale looked over obligingly. “I fucking adore sex. Particularly with you. So put that bollocks to rest right now.” 

And with that, Crowley threw himself out of the Bentley. The car had the good sense to turn itself off as Aziraphale opened his own door and got out on his own. It made Crowley frown, an angry crease forming between his eyes, but Aziraphale wasn’t feeling particularly patient and that last bit of information Crowley had seen fit to share deserved a thorough going over.

He let Crowley escort him into the cafe (soothing away some of that crease between his eyes), and once they were sat at a lovely table right by the big window with all the sunlight (miraculously open), Crowley yanked out his phone and started tapping on it furiously. Aziraphale knew better - he likely just didn’t want to talk for a few minutes, and the mobile made as good an excuse as any. In any case, it freed up Aziraphale’s own attention for some thinking.

So Crowley did enjoy sex. That was comforting, at least. Aziraphale would have felt quite beastly if his demon had just been going along with it for his sake. That was fine, then. But then why…

Aziraphale opened his mouth to ask, and then thought better of it. Crowley had said he should build up to such things, hadn’t he? And only moments ago.

“Darling,” he started gently, and Crowley raised his eyes to look over his phone. How Aziraphale could tell he did that from behind his glasses was a matter of ages of practice. “I have another question about… sensitive subjects.”

The tips of Crowley’s ears turned red. “Here?!” he hissed. “Can it not wait till we’re back at the bookshop?”

“Why should it wait?” Aziraphale frowned. “It’s important, and I rather thought we were done hiding such things.” 

Just then, a young lady appeared at their table. “Hello, can I start you gentlemen off with some drinks?” 

“Mimosas for him,” Crowley replied smoothly, gesturing to Aziraphale. “And keep ‘em coming. Coffee for me. Black as you can make it.”

The waitress, who Aziraphale had already fully sussed out, thanked them and made herself scarce. In gratitude, he flicked his fingers in her direction, ensuring she’d find several twenty pound notes tucked into her tips, and her baby son’s nasty cold would clear up by evening.

“Can’t stop yourself, can you?” Crowley asked with a smirk.

“Can you?” Aziraphale shot back. Crowley shrugged guiltily. “I’m not letting it go, dear.”

“Didn’t figure you would,” Crowley mumbled, shifting uncomfortably. “Fine. Spit it out, then.”

“If you do enjoy sex, then why won’t you initiate?” 

“Didn’t realize we were keeping score, ” Crowley grumbled as he slouched in his chair. 

Aziraphale rolled his eyes. “Must you be so obtuse?”

“‘M’not being obtuse,” the demon frowned harder. “You’re the obtuse one. ‘M’just pointin’ it out. We get there, why’s it matter?”

Aziraphale paused, considering his reply. He didn’t want this to become another row - he so hated fighting with Crowley. And he could easily see the tense set to his demon’s jaw that indicated this would become a row if he didn’t tread lightly. 

“Dearest, consider it from my perspective,” he entreated gently. “It is so lovely when we’re together, and I adore it. I want to know you adore it as well.”

“Already said as much, didn’t I?” Crowley asked.

“And hearing that was wonderful. But how does that saying go? Actions speak louder than words?”

Crowley froze, mouth slightly ajar to reveal that his tongue had gone narrow and forked. Bad sign, that. 

Fortunately, the waitress chose that precise moment to return with a mimosa and coffee in hand. 

“Here we are, then. And will you be wanting anything to eat?” she asked pleasantly. 

“Oh, yes, the raspberry and white chocolate crepes, if you please,” Aziraphale replied happily.

“The avocado toast,” Crowley growled. “The one with the poached egg.”

“I’ll put that right in,” the waitress said before bustling off. She was either oddly oblivious or very good at sensing when to be elsewhere. Aziraphale decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and made sure another few twenty pound notes would turn up in her wallet.

“Dear, you hate trendy food,” he noted.

“Like eggs, don’t I?” Crowley replied sullenly, flicking his tongue out as a subtle reminder. “‘Sides, ‘s’not really for me, is it?”

Affection so bright and warm it could have made him cry welled up somewhere underneath Aziraphale’s heart. How very like his demon, to anticipate his desires and see to them before they’d even fully formed in his own mind. To take Aziraphale’s own small joke on board and realize that it was a precursor to a true curiosity, and then to provide without so much as a word? Crowley could sulk all he liked, but Aziraphale was delirious for him, irregardless of how stubborn he was being.

“What I mean to say,” he started as soon as the waitress was out of earshot. “Is that, sometimes it worries me that you don’t… initiate. I fear perhaps you’re only… humoring me.”

“That is the stupidest thing you’ve ever said,” Crowley breathed, his glasses slipping down his nose to reveal his eyes wide in shock. “And you’ve said some spectacularly stupid things before.” 

Aziraphale glared at him. “Would you care to elaborate, darling, or would you rather continue to insult me?”

“Me? Humoring you?” Crowley barked out an entirely mirthless laugh. “That’s rich.”

“I’ve just been rather vulnerable and I’m starting to feel like I might have saved my breath,” Aziraphale snipped haughtily, which was the best he had at the moment because his stomach was sinking like it was lined with lead. He couldn’t begin to fathom what Crowley meant, but it couldn’t be good.

“Oh don’t do that,” Crowley growled, shifting in his seat to lean over the table, towards Aziraphale. “We both know who’s more invested, don’t we? You want me to- what? How’d you put it? Initiate? I’ll initiate, if it’ll make you happy. I’ll initiate so hard you’ll-” Crowley stopped, his face screwing up comically. “You’ll- oh bugger this, I don’t know, you’ll do something.

It would have been funny, but Aziraphale was stuck a bit further back. That was a common theme in their relationship. Crowley raced ever ahead and Aziraphale puttered behind him, forever trying to catch up. But in this particular case, Aziraphale was stuck on particular part of what Crowley had just said.

“What the devil do you mean, ‘more invested?’” he asked, rearing back in alarm.

“Everything I just said, and that’s what you latch on to?” Crowley asked in reply, disbelieving.

“Yes, it is!” Aziraphale shot back. “Whatever are you implying?” he continued, though his mind was racing. “Are you… are you humoring me? You are,” he gasped, blinking quickly. His heart sank at the realization. 

Oh, how it stung, to have hope and happiness dashed so abruptly. 

Crowley was staring at him, jaw open. “How the Heaven did you- what- angel, I don’t even know where to start!” he cried, scrubbing his hands over his face. “That’s not what I was saying at all!”

“Then what were you saying?!” Aziraphale demanded. Crowley sputtered but didn’t manage any actual words. “Out with it, dearest! The only other thing you could have possibly meant is that you think I-” 

Aziraphale froze. Crowley buried his face in his hands.

The waitre ss came, silently deposited their food, and disappeared. A few more twenty pound notes to her for not feigning cheerfulness in the foul atmosphere over their table.

Crowley,” Aziraphale breathed in shock. “Darling, how could you-”

“‘M’not stupid, angel,” Crowley mumbled into his hands. “You’re a bloody angel, you love everything. ‘S’in your make-up, innit?”

“Well, yes, but-”

“You can’t- it’s not- you don’t love any one thing, not like I do you,” Crowley continued, sounding utterly wretched behind his hands. 

Darling-”

“And I get that, I do, ‘m’not trying to ask for more’n you can give- angel, I’m happy with anything you can give me,” Crowley breathed, dropping his hands. His glasses hung on the end of his long nose, revealing purely yellow eyes and slitted pupils, all signs he was stressed. “‘S’just- ‘s’hard, sometimes, when you get that look, like you want me, and all I can think is that you just want me, you don’t want me, and I can’t-”

“Crowley,” Aziraphale spoke loudly and clearly. He winced as he heard the dull roar of his more celestial voice rattle the window next to them, but refocused on the startled demon across from him. “Darling, you are brilliant and wonderful and so incredibly clever, and you have never been so wrong in the entire six thousand years I’ve known you,” he stated, then smiled. “And you’ve misplaced an entire Anti-Christ before, so the bar was very high.” Crowley frowned thunderously and took a breath like he meant to respond. “No, darling, it’s my turn right now, so please just listen. Yes, I am angel, and yes , I am built to love all God’s creatures, great and small, and all that.” He waved his hand dismissively. “And I recognize your recollection of your days as an angel has gone fuzzy, but dearest, that love is a rather vague, general sort of feeling, and what I feel for you is neither vague nor general.”

Crowley made a soft sound, almost a whimper, but Aziraphale knew his demon would vehemently deny such a sound came from him if it were brought up, so he elected to ignore it.

“I don’t just want you, darling, I need you. I have spent the better part of the last several thousand years trying so hard not to need you, only to be confounded by your every smile or gesture.” Crowley blinked suddenly, like human shaped eyes recalled that they weren’t actually serpent eyes. “And whatever I have done to lead you to believe otherwise, I will disabuse you of that notion as soon as possible. I am invested, Crowley.”

A moment of silence opened between them, and Aziraphale decided that if they weren’t going to talk, he was going to eat. He knew from long experience that Crowley sometimes needed silence to process, and he was more than willing to give that. So he tucked into his crepes, which had remained at the perfect temperature, and hummed his enjoyment while Crowley sat quietly across from him.

Several thousand years?” Crowley hissed suddenly, and Aziraphale looked up. Crowley looked livid, but under that he looked… hurt. “Several thousand years of- of trying not to need me?!” Aziraphale braced himself. This was going to be a difficult talk. “I was throwing myself at your bloody feet! I’d have taken a pat of the fucking head, Aziraphale! The whole blessed time I was telling myself, you can’t tell how I feel ‘cause I’m a bloody demon and demons don’t love and you’re on the other side, saying you needed me and you couldn’t bloody say so?!”

“I very well couldn’t and you know it-”

I don’t know a blessed thing!”

“Wait,” Aziraphale blinked, backtracking mentally. “Wait, you said- what on earth do you mean, I can’t sense how you feel? Darling, of course you love, I can feel it!” 

“Well that just makes it fucking worse!” Crowley snarled. “You could feel it the whole time, and you needed me, and you did nothing about it!” 

“There were consequences- ” 

“D’you honestly think I cared?! Even a little?! I’d’ve done a free dive into the boiling lake of suphur, again, for one fucking touch! Just one! I can’t even tell you what I’d’ve done for a snog!” Crowley’s voice was taking on a hysterical cant, and Aziraphale looked around. The world around them was frozen, and he relaxed incrementally. He wondered, in passing, if Crowley was even aware he’d stopped time. “And you knew, the whole time, and you just let me twist!”

“If I had,” Aziraphale shot back. “If I had done something, said something, do you believe they’d have just let it go? If they’d found out? Hell doesn’t send nasty notes, do they?” 

“If you think I gave one blessed shit about what Hell or Heaven thought-” Crowley swore, stopped himself, and sucked in a deep breath he didn’t need. “You were worth the risk-”

“You weren’t!” Aziraphale burst out, and Crowley reeled back, paling. “No, that came out wrong, I’m sorry,” he groaned, shaking his head. “That’s not what I meant. I meant that… it wasn’t. Nothing was, don’t you see?” Crowley shook his head. “Oh, dearest. Do you honestly think I could have lived in a world you no longer existed in? They would have destroyed you. Hell, Heaven, whoever got there first. And maybe they would’ve done me as well, I know now, but at the time, all I could see was that they would find out, and when they did, you’d be extinguished and I’d be left… without you.” He paused, staring hard at the table between them. “Do you know how hard it would be for an angel to destroy themselves? I’d have better luck Falling first, and then, you know, I could get myself properly destroyed, but in the interim, I’d just… exist. Without you.” He gestured helplessly. “And I don’t know how to do that.”

Angel,” Crowley breathed.

“And I know how terribly selfish that is of me, I know, but… I’d have rather had you near and not mine than face an eternity knowing you were… gone,” Aziraphale swallowed hard, against the pain and remembered fear. “I hurt you terribly, I know that, but I’d hoped that I could- that we could- I don’t know, heal? Together? But I’ve hurt you again, somehow, and I’m so terribly sorry, darling. I’m sorry for all of it.”

“Say it,” Crowley suddenly said, breathless. Aziraphale glanced up at him, confused. “Say it, angel, tell me. You don’t just want me, or need me. Say it.”

“I love you,” Aziraphale replied, and watched in awe as Crowley sank into his chair, pain and joy and relief and longing all playing across his face. “ I love you,” he repeated, catching on now. If his demon needed this, then he would deliver it in bulk. “ I love you, dearest, and not how I love anything else. I love you singularly, wholly, passionately. I have so many words to tell you how I love you-” 

“If you quote old Will at me right now, I swear, angel-”

“I would never,” Aziraphale grinned.

“You would,” Crowley beamed back at him.

“Alright, yes, I would, but not right now. Right now I’m trying very hard to tell you how wildly I adore you while simultaneously trying very hard not to bend you over this table and let actions speak louder.”

Crowley’s smile changed to something sharper, infinitely more wicked, and so ferally beautiful it made Aziraphale ache. “That last bit sounded very convincing, we could try that.”

“Doesn’t sound very comfortable. I think I’d prefer our bed,” Azirphale replied.

Our bed, ” Crowley groaned, shifting in his seat. “Please tell me you’re done here, and we can go.”

Aziraphale whined and gestured to his partially eaten crepes. Crowley blinked at him in disbelief.\

“You are a blessed angel, ” he growled, waving dismissively at the table. Both their meals and drinks vanished, and Aziraphale pouted. 

“Crepes are never as good reheated, you know that,” he complained.

“Good thing they’ll keep at the right temperature,” Crowley replied quickly. Around them, the cafe launched into motion again, and the sudden noise made Aziraphale realize how quiet it had been. Crowley stood and offered his elbow, studiously looking elsewhere. All it did was showcase how red his ears had gotten. They nearly matched his hair. Aziraphale smiled at that, and stood to take said elbow.

Usually, Crowley charged ahead and Aziraphale followed behind him. That was the way it had been for over six thousand years. Like so much of their lives together it was more ritual than habit. But the faint tremor that went through Crowley as Aziraphale slipped his arm through the crook of the demon’s elbow suddenly convinced him that, perhaps just this once, a measure of haste was appropriate.

Aziraphale snapped, and enough cash to cover their bill and a generous tip besides appeared on their table, before hauling Crowley towards the door.

“Angel-” Crowley stuttered in surprise, and then the rest of his face went red. “Right then.”

His demon didn’t bother with niceties, leaving Aziraphale to get into the car himself while Crowley slid into the driver’s side and started the Bentley up. Music immediately blared, but neither of them could be bothered to care. Crowley’s hand landed on Aziraphale’s thigh, proprietary and desperate, fingers twitching in the repressed need to squeeze. Aziraphale took a deep, calming breath (breathing was terribly relaxing, even if it wasn’t necessary), and began to plan.

They arrived at the bookstore in record time, though it was due to several miracles that no humans or animals were injured in the process. Crowley was out of the car and moving before Aziraphale had even opened his door, crashing through the door of the bookshop. It opened for him like he owned it, as always. Aziraphale took his time following, because he was fairly sure he knew what Crowley was up to, and wanted to give him time to prepare.

He entered the bookshop quietly, taking care to manually lock the door behind him. He could hear Crowley moving around upstairs. He’d not given Crowley any instruction this time, so he wasn’t sure what to expect, but the memory of his demon, naked and spread at his behest, was still fresh and sharp in his mind. Perhaps the demon might be amenable to being ordered about again? He’d seemed to enjoy it so, and they’d not done it since…

Aziraphale shrugged out of his jacket, draping it carefully over the back of his chair as he moved through the back room, pausing to undo his shirt cuffs. It was quiet upstairs, and he took that as a sign that Crowley was ready. With a deep breath to steady himself, he started the climb up the stairs. He kept his pace slow, steady. It wasn’t about the arrival, it was about the anticipation - for himself and for his demon, and he adored building it up until Crowley couldn’t stand it. 

He loved having his demon when he was wild and desperate for it, when the layers of protection he’d carefully erected around his burned and scarred essence were in pieces around them. Then Aziraphale would take him, bathe him in ecstasy and devotion until he was delirious with it. And then he’d do it all over again until Crowley forgot everything but his name and his voice was raw with screaming.

Something violent and hot slipped down his spine, piquing his own need with a painful throb. He ignored it, breathed again, and climbed the stairs. When he was done, Crowley would never again question if he was loved.

He finally reached the top of the stairs, and blinked to find the bed empty of a certain red-headed demon. That wasn’t what he’d been expecting at all. He took a step towards the bed, confused, when a sudden weight hit him from behind. 

Unable to brace himself in time, Aziraphale toppled onto the bed, managing to twist to land on his back - it was nice to know that all that training before his posting on the wall of Eden hadn’t completely disappeared. 

And then he was on his bed, straddled by a half naked, grinning demon. Oh, but this was a lovely way to go full circle, he thought. 

“You said you wanted to explore me tackling you to the bed,” Crowley purred, leaning over him to press his nose to Aziraphale’s neck.

“I did say that,” Aziraphale sighed, running his hands up his demon’s bare arms, over his shoulders and down his back. Said demon trembled and arched into his hands, pulling the long, sharp lines of himself into stark contrast in the dim light. Aziraphale felt his lips part in admiration and no small amount of need. “Gorgeous creature,” he cooed softly, “Look at you. How you tempt me.”

Crowley groaned, grinding his hips to Aziraphale’s. “I can tempt you more,” he offered breathlessly. Aziraphale sucked in a deep breath, realizing what was on offer here, remembering that slick, wicked thread of demonic allure curling around the base of his spine, like being caressed by the most illicit promise ever.

“Do it,” he dared his demon, who grinned down at him and straightened up. 

“Touch me,” Crowley purred, and his voice was more than it usually was, heavy and laden with intent and promise, thick and sweet like warm honey. Aziraphale didn’t bother trying to resist, letting his hands settle reverently on the demons hips and stroking those perfect hip bones with his thumbs. Crowley hummed approvingly - a sound that slipped down Aziraphale’s spine to pool in his groin - and arched his back, crossing his arms behind his head. The effect was… stunning, to say the least. 

Lord,” Aziraphale muttered absently, stroking his hands up that lean, hard stomach. 

“Stroke me,” Crowley continued, the power in his voice rippling between them, buffeted by the unending deluge of adoration pouring from Aziraphale. It was still more than strong enough to make Aziraphale groan, continuing to run his hands up to his demon’s chest and back down. Crowley’s smile grew sharp enough to cut. “Take me.”

He needn’t have used the power that underlined his voice. He could have simply asked, and Aziraphale would have willingly delivered. The pleasure he got from leaning up and toppling Crowley onto the bed was just a lovely bonus. He grasped his demon’s wrists gently, placing them on the bed, above the demon’s head.

“Stay,” he whispered, and Crowley groaned in reply, arching that serpentine spine of his. 

“Yesss,” his demon hissed, craning his head back. “I can be good for you, angel.”

“You always are,” Aziraphale assured him, running his hands down Crowley’s chest to the fastener of those skinny denim trousers of his. Though he’d absolutely never admit it out loud, he could absolutely appreciate the efficiency of one button and a zipper, which made it so much quicker to divest his demon of the bottom half of his clothes clothes. He peeled the trousers down long, lean thighs, eyes glued to each inch of skin that was revealed. He had to slide back on the bed to pull them off fully, but it was worth it to lean over and press a kiss to the inside of Crowley’s bent knee and watch the shiver race up his demon’s body. He pulled the trousers off completely and tossed them away, only hesitating a moment. If he stopped to try and fold them now, Crowley would like have a fit. 

Next came the pants, black and sleek like everything else Crowley owned, tented and damp. They went the way of the trousers, tossed aside and ignored in favor of lavishing kisses to the demon’s pronounced hip bones. It was a strange thing, but they were arguably one of Aziraphale’s favorite spots on his lover’s body. He loved the feel of them under his thumbs, pressing into his palms, shifting as Crowley moved. It was just a corporation, he knew that, its appearance as incidental as the clothing they wore, but it was so dear, so precious, so Crowley, that he loved it nearly as much as he loved the demon inhabiting it.

Speaking of which…

“I love you,” he whispered into Crowley’s skin, listening to the breath whistle out of the demon. He shifted over a bit, pressing open mouthed kisses to his demon’s heated length, relishing the answering moan. “I love you breathlessly,” he continued. “Wildly, instinctively, like it’s the only thing I know how to do.”

“Oh fuck, ‘Ziraphale-”

“I love it when you say my name like that,” he muttered, taking the tip of Crowley’s cock in his mouth and sucking as Crowley’s hands fisted into his hair-

But those hands pulled him up and away, and he blinked up a flushed, panting demon.

“I need-” Crowley burst out, eyes wide. “I need to touch you too.”

“You are,” Aziraphale pointed out gently.

“No, like- like you’re touching me.”

Aziraphale frowned. “I don’t see how-”

“Like this,” Crowley muttered, reaching down and pulling Aziraphale up by his shoulders and pushing him to his side. In a blink, he found himself eye level with his demon’s groin as said demon dove for his own trouser fasteners, lying on his own side facing Aziraphale.

“Oh,” Aziraphale murmured in understanding, and grabbed Crowley’s hips to drag him closer. “You clever, beautiful serpent,” he added, before getting back to the task at hand.

He licked a slow stripe up the underside of his demon’s cock, teasing and soft. It was effective - Crowley’s hands twitched in their task. He made a nonsensical noise that still handily conveyed utter desire . And who was Aziraphale to deny such a lovely creature? He sucked the head into his mouth, laving over it with his tongue. His demon was so deliciously sensitive there, and true to form, Crowley’s hips stuttered towards Aziraphale’s mouth.

Bugger this,” the demon hissed, and Aziraphale found himself shivering, suddenly exposed to the cool air. He hummed in amusement, gently sucking his lover deeper into his mouth. Crowley, always so impatient, immediately sucking Aziraphale down to the root, eager and competitive.

How lovely, Aziraphale realized, working his tongue along his demon’s shaft, alternating between hard sucks and gentle licks. He lifted his leg, bent at the knee, and Crowley copied the motion, allowing both of them better access. It was close, intimate - he could feel Crowley’s every breath as his ribs expanded and contracted, feel every point of contact along their bodies with a flush of warmth. Crowley’s whines and growls reverberated up his spine, making him moan around the demon’s cock in turn - a veritable feedback loop of sensation. 

Crowley’s tongue suddenly changed from thick and human to thin and forked, flicking teasingly before canting his head and letting Aziraphale slide into his throat - blasted demon and his lack of a gag reflex. Aziraphale strove to distract himself by focusing on his demon’s pleasure. It wasn’t about a barrage of sensation, but more the careful balance of intensity. Too much overwhelmed Crowley, and too little quickly frustrated him. Aziraphale didn’t dare mention this to Crowley himself though - he’d just deny it, and then grow too embarrassed during their next romantic interlude.

So he reached up with the arm he wasn’t lying on and stroked Crowley’s hip, gently encouraging him to thrust. It didn’t take long to have his demon’s hips rocking in and out of his mouth, letting him focus on working his tongue against all the right spots and occasionally swallowing around him. But at the same time, pleasure coiled tight and hot at the base of his spine, feeling the tight, wet heat of Crowley’s mouth and throat working around him. 

Crowley abruptly pulled back, whining as he ground into Aziraphale’s mouth. 

“‘Ziraphale,” he gasped, and Aziraphale used the advantage to press Crowley to his back, leaning over him to continue working his mouth on the demon’s cock. “ Fuck, angel, I’m gonna- please, please-” 

He sucked hard, and felt the muscles in Crowley’s hips jerk and twitch, driving himself deep into Aziraphale’s mouth before orgasming with a broken cry. He worked his demon through it gently, before releasing him and readjusting to lay alongside Crowley and gently him down.

“Shh, darling, my perfect, beautiful darling,” he whispered, pressing his lips into Crowley’s hair, soft and smelling of hair product. 

Crowley came back to himself in increments, the glazed over look in his eyes slowly fading as he grew more alert, leaning into Aziraphale’s touch.

“Angel,” he breathed. “One of these times, you gotta let me do you. You’re too fucking good at that.”

“Is that a complaint?” Aziraphale smiled.

“No, just… embarrassin’, is all,” Crowley grumbled, arching and pressing closer. He was already hard again, and Aziraphale chuckled. “Want you,” Crowley growled.

Ahh, how quickly his demon had learned that trick. So many years of Crowley’s endless attention and gifts, and being unable to give anything back… and now, his demon struggled so with voicing his desires. When he managed it, though, it was a livewire straight to Aziraphale’s libido.

“Whatever you want, love,” he swore, leaning down to mouth eagerly at Crowley’s neck. Need throbbed , and he ached. So many ideas, so many ways he could please his lover and slake his own thirst. “Tell me what you want, darling, and I’ll give it to you.”

“Would you… d’you- will you fuck me again?” Crowley asked softly, arching his head back. They haven’t done this since that first night together, mere weeks ago. They’ve only used hands and mouths, which was all lovely, but this… 

Aziraphale was afraid to admit to himself how he hungered for this. To fuck his demon, work him open and press his cock inside, make space for himself inside his lover’s body. To work Crowley slowly, drive him to madness, fuck into him until all the demon could do was scream and work himself back on Aziraphale’s cock. He’d fantasized about it for so long, imagining how Crowley might look taking it - bent over a table or desk, on his back in bed, or astride Aziraphale’s lap, working himself up and down-

“Darling, I would love nothing more,” he groaned, rolling up to lean over Crowley on all fours. Crowley preened at the attention, the vain, dear thing. “But if you miracle yourself open this time, I shall be very cross.”

Crowley blinked and burst into laughter - the deep, belly kind that so rarely passed his lips. Aziraphale grinned down at him, drinking it in. How lovely his demon looked, unburdened and happy. He’d do anything to make this their life.

“I won’t,” Crowley gasped, still grinning joyously. “I promise, no miracles,” he agreed. 

“Hmph, as though I’d trust such a fiend, ” Aziraphale teased in reply. “Hands above your head, darling, and this time, don’t move them.” 

A flicker of interest flashed through Crowley’s eyes before he put his hands exactly where Aziraphale ordered. “‘M’ your fiend,” he demurred, arching up to Aziraphale’s gaze, ever the tempter.

“And only mine,” he agreed, sitting back on his heels and pulling Crowley’s legs up. He took a moment to admire the view, his demon’s knees to his chest and exposed just for him. “Ah, darling, I’ll never share you. I’d have you all to myself for the rest of time.” He sighed.

“Yours,” Crowley purred, those stunning eyes of his hooded with pleasure and desire. 

“Mine,” Aziraphale repeated, leaning over to the side briefly to grab a bottle of lube from the nightstand. It had seemed a prudent purchase, given their… progression. “Tell me if you need to stop.”

“Not gonna need to stop. Not for anything,” Crowley shook his head as Aziraphale leaned over him to watch his face better, warming lube between his fingers. “Do it, please, can’t stand it,” Crowley groaned, craning his head back to the bed. Aziraphale took that as his cue, and gently circled the tight ring of muscles guarding his demon’s hole. He was tense, but Aziraphale was patient, slowly massaging until his lover relaxed enough to slip a finger inside. Crowley’s breath hitched as Aziraphale moved, but he relaxed again almost immediately. 

“I love you,” Aziraphale whispered suddenly, mostly because he adored the reaction the adoration drew from his demon, but at least in part because he needed to distract himself. He was so painfully hard just from watching one finger disappear into Crowley, and he wanted this to last. He planned to savor this, finally making love with his demon.

“Ngggfffuck, angel,” Crowley squirmed. “Another, please, want it.”

Aziraphale obligingly began working a second finger in. “Patience, darling. I’m going to work you till you can take all four.” Crowley made a shrill sound. “And then I’m going to fuck into your gorgeous arse until you don’t remember your own name.”

“Where the fuck-” Crowley choked off when Aziraphale crooked his fingers just so, seeking that spot. His demon’s hips jerked up and dropped with a soft thump. “Where did you learn to talk like that?” he gasped.

“The same as you, darling - Earth, for six thousand years,” Aziraphale chuckled, scissoring his fingers. “You’re so tight, darling, I can’t wait to feel you on my cock.”

“Now,” Crowley whined. “I can take it now.”

“No,” Aziraphale replied steadily. “Not yet.” He gently tested a third finger, watching the muscles in Crowley’s thighs twitch. “I love watching you like this, so beautiful and open and mine. I love you, ” he continued, before slowly slipping his ring finger past the tight ring of muscles, thrusting shallowly. Crowley was rocking in time with the motion, trying to take more and deeper , but Aziraphale measured his movements carefully, leaving his demon writhing.

“Blessed fucking tease, ” Crowley snarled. “Should’ve bloody known, with your blessed patience.” Aziraphale decided Crowley was far too coherent and swiveled his hand to massage that particular spot, and oh , how his demon sang. “‘ Ziraphale! Oh my fucking- yes, yes yes yes, more, please, angel, I’ll be good, promise-”

That, Aziraphale thought, was more like it.

“My gorgeous love,” he cooed, thrusting his fingers a little harder, a little rougher, watching in delight as Crowley melted for him. “You look so perfectly debauched, spread like this. I could eat you up.” His demon’s head shot up, panicked and eager and already begging without words. “Would you like that? Shall I suck your cock while I fuck you with my fingers?”

Crowley shook his head. “Want you, wanna come on you,” he whimpered. “Please, angel, please.”

Aziraphale groaned. His demon begged so prettily. “As you wish, darling.” With no warning he worked that fourth finger into his lover, watching Crowley’s mouth drop open. 

“Angel- angel, please,” he managed before he devolved into wordless gasps and whines. 

“Now, darling?” Aziraphale asked, stilling his hand.

Now,” Crowley gasped, and Aziraphale gently retracted his fingers. He was easing into place, slotted between Crowley’s legs, when the serpent struck, lunging up and twisting to tackle Aziraphale to the bed for the second time in one night. 

“Really, darling?” Aziraphale asked. Crowley glared down at him, miracling the lube bottle into his hands and spreading a generous amount on his hand. It was still shockingly cool when he slicked it along Aziraphale’s cock. 

“You’re so fucking thick,” Crowley bit out, stroking roughly. Aziraphale couldn’t stop himself from thrusting up against his demon’s palm. Crowley rocked against him, heated length to heated length, and they both moaned in time. 

Aziraphale reached out and grasped his demon’s hips, pulling him forward enough to grind against the curve of his arse. Crowley took the hint, lifting himself up while simultaneously reaching down to line Aziraphale up. He sat back abruptly, and Aziraphale had to squeeze hard enough to leave bruises to slow his descent.

They froze there, Crowley fully seated and Aziraphale deep inside him. The ripple and clench of muscle around his length, warm and tight and perfect-

“You fit so perfect,” Crowley whispered, a reverent echo of Aziraphale’s own thoughts. 

“Like I was made for you,” he agreed in a hushed voice. 

“Or the other way ‘round,” his demon answered, rocking gently with a soft hiss. “Ngk, so fucking good.”

“You’re divine,” Aziraphale gasped, rocking up to meet Crowley’s careful motions, watching Crowley arch at the sensation. “I wish I could show you, make you see how you look to me-”

“Like you look to me,” Crowley answered, his eyes fluttering closed as he lifted his hips, lowering them a beat later, slow and steady and so unlike the demon. “I know,” he continued. “I know, angel, I feel it too.”

Aziraphale sat up, unable to stand a breath of space between them. He needed to be closer, as close as possible. He needed to be so close he was inside, more than he already was, and he could just lay against his beloved’s heart, shelter that delicate space with love and adoration for the rest of time. He wrapped his arm around Crowley’s, sliding his hand up the demon’s slim back and into his hair, and anchored the other hand at his hip. 

“Together, darling,” he whispered, and took Crowley’s mouth. The demon rocked, hips rising and falling at a steady pace, and Aziraphale helped him with a careful grip. Crowley’s cock, hard and leaking, rubbed against his stomach between them, and Aziraphale moved the hand on his lover’s hip to grasp it, watching in awe as Crowley squeezed his eyes shut and moaned in the kiss. 

Maybe Crowley stopped time. Or perhaps it was just them, timeless and immortal and made for one another. Maybe it was divine, the way She intended it all along. Maybe this was how they were meant to be, moving together, driving each other towards something monumental, working in and out and up and down and together. Maybe it was always coming to this, maybe they were star-crossed, maybe… maybe…

Crowley broke away from the kiss first, arching his head back with a soft, desperate cry. He was throbbing in Aziraphale’s hand. “Please, please, please,” he panted, winding those long, strong arms around Aziraphale’s neck.

“I’m with you, my love,” Aziraphale whispered back, pressing his sweat-slicked forehead to his demon’s shoulder. “I’m right here, you’re so perfect-”

“‘ Ziraphale-” Crowley gasped, his back arching, and the muscles around Aziraphale’s length clenched. Lost, Aziraphale thrust up once, twice, a third time, and felt himself throb in time with his lover. He came, mouth open and gasping and clutching Crowley to him like he’d be obliterated if there was so much as a breath between them.

They panted together, clinging to each other through the aftershocks.

“I love you,” Crowley suddenly whispered to the ceiling. “I love you so much it hurts. I love how it hurts, because it’s for you. I love you.”

“I love you as well,” Aziraphale replied, kissing his demon’s shoulder and holding him that much tighter.