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This Will All Get Better With Practice

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It was a chilly, rainy day in early December, and Crowley wriggled a bit deeper into the sofa, under the tartan blanket that Aziraphale had so kindly draped over him when he’d thrown himself onto the angel’s couch for a nap an hour or so ago. Being cold blooded, Crowley abhorred winter. It irritated him how much Aziraphale reveled in the season, with his hot cocoa, and his love of soups and stews and his frankly disturbing obsession with the way humans celebrated Christmas. 

 

Summer was much more to Crowley’s liking. He adored lying for hours on the hot sand at the beach, letting the sun soak into his serpent-cool skin. Humans were randier and wilder and easier to tempt in the summer too. They walked around with barely anything on and grew loose and open minded in the warmer months. In winter, everyone reverted to focusing on the work of basic survival, staying in to watch telly, and bundling up in multiple layers when they went out at all. Yes, summer was a great season for demonic works. Winter on the other hand, was for curling up somewhere warm and taking extensive naps. 

 

And he did rather enjoy spending time in Aziraphale’s shop. The angel was a wonderful host, always offering Crowley fragrant cups of tea (which he sometimes accepted) or steaming hot cups of cocoa (which he turned his nose up at. Cocoa was for chumps ). Aziraphale always kept plenty of warm blankets and soft pillows around in the back room of the bookshop just in case Crowley wanted to nap, and his wine rack was inexhaustible. 

 

Post Apoca-wasn’t, and after the frankly terrifying ordeal with the body swap (that had thankfully gone off perfectly), they hadn’t had all that much to do with themselves, other than spend time together. This suited Crowley just fine. All he’d ever wanted was more time to spend with the angel, and now, it seemed, he had all the time in the world. Heaven and Hell had backed off, giving them all the space they needed to explore their new relationship.

 

Which was what exactly? Crowley was uncertain. He’d had a fond and well worn fantasy that the minute they’d won their freedom, Aziraphale would fall into his arms and profess undying love for him. Over the millennia of their long and complex history together, this fantasy had gone from painful and depressing (when Crowley could not see an end to their indentured servitude to their respective head offices) to a real, glimmering possibility as the Apocalypse had approached. Their plan to raise Warlock up to be a perfectly normal boy had given Crowley hope that perhaps he and Aziraphale would not have to fight in the Great War after all. That perhaps they could avert this whole Armageddon business and save the earth. 

 

Things had gotten a bit shaky there at the end, but it had all turned out rather well, with the help of a ragtag group of humans and some very imaginative spell casting. And Adam of course, rejecting his Satanic Father. He had played a major role in averting of the Great War. 

 

The body swap had admittedly been a happy accident. Aziraphale had come up with it, by way of a stroke of pure genius when Crowley had done an impression of the angel in Crowley’s flat, the night after they’d stared down Satan on the Tadfield Airbase. Crowley’s only motive had been to gently mock Aziraphale for the prissy way he drank his tea. They’d both been a bit soused at the time, and Crowley had pursed his lips, held his wine glass with a pinky raised, and had affected Aziraphale’s hopelessly patrician accent as he’d said “Crowley, do be ah dee-yah ahnd pahs me the shu-gah faw my tea!” 

 

He’d dissolved into a fit of giggles at how clever his impression had been, knowing that his glee was tinged with just a small bit of hysteria at their dire situation. They had in fact been facing trial and possible execution on the morrow. Aziraphale however hadn’t laughed at all. He’d simply stared at Crowley with eyes wide and mouth gaping open, a look of shock on his face. 

 

When Crowley had left off giggling and asked him what was wrong, Aziraphale had slowly, haltingly laid out the plan for the body swap. Crowley at first had thought it was doomed to failure, but once they’d mixed essences (a startlingly intimate experience indeed), and spent the night practicing each other’s mannerisms, Crowley was forced to admit that it was their best chance at survival. 

 

And it had worked! Like a charm! He could still see Gabriel’s smug expression turning from triumphant condescension to abject terror as Crowley had stepped into the raging pillar of Hellfire, stretching and sighing as if he’d just slipped into a hot bath. 

 

And then they’d been free! Free to eat at the Ritz. Free to walk in the park. Free to spend every night together, drinking and talking, or simply sitting companionably in silence as Aziraphale read and Crowley dozed on his sofa nearby. No one was watching any longer. They didn’t have to report to anyone any longer. For the first few weeks, Crowley had assumed Aziraphale would need some time to adjust before he admitted to his feelings for the demon. It had after all been several thousand years that they’d spent hiding and looking over their shoulders as they’d conducted their clandestine friendship. Perhaps the angel needed to grow accustomed to their newfound freedom? But as the weeks went by, and Aziraphale remained kind and friendly but physically distant, Crowley had started to doubt that this dream of romantic love and searing hot, passionate sex between them would ever come to pass. 

 

As the weeks turned into months, he’d started to lose hope. Perhaps his feelings really were unrequited? Perhaps Aziraphale really wasn’t capable of the lustful, passionate, ardent feelings Crowley had inside his heart, and deep in his loins for the angel? It would make sense, Crowley realized with a feeling of dawning dread. Angels were beings of light and love, but in a very general, godly way. Love for humankind as a whole. Brotherly love. The kind of love that was supportive and affectionate and kindly, not one that dipped into the burning hot flames of sexual desire, nor one that soared to the giddy, thrilling heights of romantic passion. Crowley felt all of this for Aziraphale, but perhaps Aziraphale simply could not reciprocate? Or worse. Perhaps he could, but he didn’t feel that way about Crowley? That would almost be worse. 

 

And so Crowley settled in and waited for a sign, any sign that Aziraphale might feel the same way he did. He lacked the courage to approach the subject with the angel, let alone make some sort of romantic move on him. They’d built up some very thick and sturdily constructed boundaries over the thousands of years of their earthly acquaintance. One didn’t simply kick one’s way through such boundaries as if kicking one’s way through a bed of flowers in a well manicured garden (not that Crowley had ever done such a thing. Perish the thought!). Especially if one feared one might be rejected for it.

 

 As the months post ArmageDon’t crept by, and as Aziraphale continued offering him tea and coffee and wine and cozy blankets, as Aziraphale continued accepting his invitations to dinner (just as he always had) and kept smiling at him with that warm, friendly smile, Crowley began to get a bit depressed. He started napping more. Started spending more time at his own flat. 

 

So on this rainy, chilly, early December day, when the shop bell rang out and a frumpy looking, middle aged woman with silver hair had walked officiously into the shop and had introduced herself as a “Celestial and Demonic Immigration Officer”, Crowley had almost been relieved by the change of events. 

 

He’d heard Aziraphale talking to the woman at the front of the shop and had dared to leave his warm nest to go and investigate, letting his form shrink and slip into the form of a small snake so that he could creep closer without being observed. Who knew what this was about, and he didn’t relish the thought of getting Aziraphale in trouble with the authorities by sauntering over in human form. He slithered his way up the side of a bookshelf near the front of the shop and observed as Aziraphale chatted with the woman. 

 

She was very unassuming. One would almost mistake her for human, if not for the clear and obvious smell of ozone about her person and the glint of a halo that surrounded her wavy, silver locks. “See here Mr. Aziraphale” she said, in the half bored, half condescending tone of many a social worker, office grunt and mid level manager since the dawn of recorded history. “I understand that you’ve been officially released from service by Heaven, and that Mr. Crowley has been officially released by Hell, but this is a different matter entirely”

 

Crowley was suddenly consumed with curiosity. He kept silent though, coiling into a small pile of dark scales and glowing yellow eyes in his hiding spot atop the bookshelf as he waited to hear what she said next. “I do not report to Heaven or Hell Mr. Aziraphale. I am a third party administrator who handles immigration”

 

“Immigration?” Aziraphale sounded confused. 

 

“Yes Mr. Aziraphale sir. Immigration to earth. The two of you, Mr. Crowley and yourself have, since the official end of your service with your respective employers, been living here on earth illegally.  And paperwork being what it is, no one has gotten around to investigating until now.”

 

“Investigating?” Aziraphale’s tactic for dealing with this woman apparently consisted of repeating everything she said, like a dullard. Crowley winced in snake form from his hiding place. 

 

“Speaking of Mr. Crowley” The woman sounded suddenly put upon “you can come out now. You’re not fooling anyone with that snake routine”

 

Crowley froze in his shadowy hiding place. It was rare that any creature of celestial heritage could sense him when he was being a snake. Especially a serpent this small. 

 

“Come along now sir” the immigration agent’s tone took on a note of long suffering patience. “Come out and show yourself. I haven’t got all day”

 

Crowley had no real choice but to revert to man form. He slunk swiftly to the floor of the shop and let himself expand upwards into the lanky, flame haired shape of a male human. “Hey” he greeted the woman with a small wave. “What’s up?”

 

“What is up indeed Mr. Crowley” The immigration agent rolled her eyes impatiently at him, as if he were an unruly child she’d been tasked with watching. “I’ve come to inform yourself and Mr. Aziraphale here that if you are to remain as denizens of earth, that you’ll need to establish legal residency with my agency.”

 

“And how.. How pray tell do we do that?” Aziraphale finally seemed to find his voice. His hands were twisting nervously together and his shoulders were hunched in the way they always were when he was nervous and apprehensive. 

 

“As celestial, or” here she nodded at Crowley “demonic beings, there are only two ways to establish legal residency on earth. One way, which is already closed to both of you, is to be born here. The other is to take up residence as a married couple”. 

 

Seeing the shocked looks on both their faces, she continued, sounding, if possible, even more put upon. “Don’t ask me why. It’s a very old law… handed down by God herself something like six thousand years ago. Seems there were a couple of angels and demons who wanted to spend extended vacation time here, and the only way to dissuade them from hanging around, shirking their responsibilities and drinking margaritas all day was to suggest that they marry. It’s a surprisingly effective deterrent for loiterers and loafers if you ask me. Demons and angels loath one another, so if you try and make them marry, they’ll head on back to their respective head offices pretty quickly. Works like a charm. Worked wonders on Gabriel and Beelzebub anyway, back a few thousand years ago” Crowley and Aziraphale traded a shocked look upon hearing this. The immigration agent continued. “ If you want to stay here, you’ll need to be married. And since I see no record of the two of you applying for a marriage license, I think it’s about time you headed on back upstairs.. And erm.. downstairs…as it were”

 

“Wait..” Crowley was confused. “Exactly how many angels and demons have wanted to illegally take up residence on earth? I mean Aziraphale and I were on official assignment until a few months ago. Are you telling me there are celestial and demonic beings that are sort of loitering around, not for any official reason? Other than to enjoy earth that is…”

 

“Yes” Replied the immigration agent. “There’ve have been a few here and there through the millennia. Earth’s a popular vacation spot. You should know.. You both seem to have enjoyed yourselves quite a bit over the years” She looked pointedly at a few empty wine glasses that had piled up the end table on Crowley’s side of Aziraphale’s sofa. “So, if you please, since you’re clearly not intending to get married... I’ll be forced to remand you to..”

 

“Wait!” Crowley’s mouth moved before his conscious mind caught up to what he was saying. “We… We are planning on getting married. We definitely are!”

 

“What??!” Aziraphale turned to look at him with astonishment written plainly on his face. 

 

“Y-yes” Crowley stuttered, thoughts racing as he hatched up a plan on the spot. “I.. uh… I hate to have to ruin the surprise angel, but I was planning on proposing…on.. Christmas Eve.”

 

“What??” Aziraphale didn’t seem to be catching on to Crowley’s plan as quickly as he’d have liked. 

 

“My my my.” Drawled the immigration agent. “Isn’t this a surprising turn of events.” Her voice suggested that she was not in fact surprised at all . “I do hope you both realize that, just like any immigration office, the Office of Celestial and Demonic Intermarriage and Immigration has some very strict protocols for investigating false marriage claims. You can’t simply tell me you’re getting hitched, then hang around here drinking and carousing as long as you like. You do actually have to get married, and prove that you’ve done so genuinely.” 

 

Crowley gulped audibly “And erm… how exactly do we… prove that we’re married genuinely?” he asked

 

“Well, for starters, I’ll be making regular, unannounced visits to your residence to interview you both about your married life. If you answer my series of questions incorrectly, you’ll be sent back to your head office. And don’t bother asking which questions..” she held up a finger to forestall Aziraphale, who’d been clearly opening his mouth to ask just that. “I can’t tell you. That would be cheating the system”. Aziraphale looked crestfallen.

 

“And,” The agent continued, droning on officiously as if reading from a script “we’ll have secret agents, placed about the city, observing you from a distance to ensure that you’re behaving the way a real married couple would behave. You know… spending lots of time together. Being physically affectionate. Demons and angels are historically repulsed by each other, so this is usually quite difficult for them to fake ” She looked meaningfully at both of them in turn before continuing 

“You two seem fine spending time together without ripping each other’s throats out, so that speaks well for your veracity, but we’ve had other ‘couples’,” here she made air quotes with her fingers, betraying her opinion on prior creatures who’d clearly tried to fool the agency “angels and demons who could also stand to be in the same room long enough to try and win a chance to hang around on earth. Lazing about, shirking their responsibilities and soaking up valuable miraculous resources that could have gone to better use” 

 

“Oh!” Aziraphale had started catching on at this point “Oh, well, yes. Yes. I must concur with Mr. Cro- With my darling fiance here. We were in fact planning on marrying. At some point. It’s a shame that this, er.. awkward situation arose and.. forced his hand as it were, but we’ve had several very lengthy discussions about making our...l-love... official” Here, he glanced at Crowley, attempting to smile lovingly and instead pulling off a grimace so uncomfortable and stilted that, Crowley would have burst out laughing if he weren’t so incredibly nervous. 

 

“Alright then!” the immigration agent snapped her fingers and a sheet of paper was suddenly floating in the air before her, glowing gently as it hovered between her and the angel and demon. “If you’ll just sign at the bottom there, we can make this official and get our investigation on its way”

 

“What… what’s that?” Crowley choked out.

 

“Why, it’s a marriage certificate of course.” The immigration agent sounded incredulous. “Did you think I was going to let the two of you run off to city hall and request a human marriage certificate? That would hardly be legally binding”

 

“Oh. Oh my” breathed Aziraphale in a shaky voice. Crowley felt a stab of sympathy for the clearly overwhelmed angel. This must all be tough for him to process on the spot. Crowley was more accustomed to very bad turns of events, being that he was a demon. Bad turns were sort of an every day thing in Hell. But poor Aziraphale had probably thought everything was fine and dandy now that Armageddon and the body swap were over. Ever the optimist. Poor chap. Crowley was a dyed in the wool pessimist, so this awkward, horrifyingly embarrassing development was just more of what he naturally expected from life as a demon. 

 

“Go on then, sign it please” the immigration agent prompted them, ignoring their strained, pale faces as they regarded the floating piece of paper as if were a ticking time bomb. “Unless of course your marriage plans were all a sham, concocted on the spot so that you could keep loafing about on earth, wasting your ex boss’s resources that is” she added with a small, sadistic smirk tugging at the corner of her mouth. “And if that’s the case, you can pack it in right now and head back to..”

 

“Fine then!” To Crowley’s surprise, Azirpahale interrupted her first.. He snapped a white feather quill pen into existence and stepped forward. Carefully avoiding looking at Crowley, he signed his looping, elegant signature to the bottom of the certificate, then stood back, blushing fiercely. Crowley supposed he couldn’t back out now. He snapped his fingers and a black quill pen appeared in his hand. He stepped forward as well and added his own spiky, spidery signature next to Aziraphale’s on the page. It glowed briefly with Hellfire before cooling to black ink. There. It was done. They were now legally married. Despite the intense awkwardness of the situation, he couldn’t help a small thrill of joy from bubbling up deep inside him. 

 

A second later though, a sudden, mortifying thought occurred to him “Will you...um… will you have agents watching us.. Inside our home?” He asked, the mere thought of having to fake sexual congress with the angel in front of a hidden audience of celestial judges making him feel faintly nauseous, but also strangely aroused. Could I possibly be *that* kinky? He wondered absently. 

 

“No of course not! We’re an other-worldy agency, not a bunch of perverts!” The immigration agent seemed sincerely insulted by the insinuation. “No, of course you’ll have privacy inside your residence. And although I can clearly see that you’re completely genuine in your desire to be spouses” Here her voice took on that hyper sarcasm that Crowley was swiftly learning to hate, “I feel it is my duty to warn you that you can’t get around the investigation by simply never leaving the house. We’ll need to see public proof that you’re in a real and loving marriage, or it’s back to Heaven and Hell you go”. 

 

Crowley nodded, feeling relieved

 

“One more thing though. I assume you realize that you’ll need to live in the same domicile. You can’t be married and maintain separate residences. I’d assume you already lived together, but looking around this place” she let her eyes wander up the walls of bookshelves..”no demon would have felt at home in this place.”

 

“Of course!” Aziraphale piped up, his voice rising a few octaves with what Crowley assumed was intense nervousness. “Of course. We were planning on moving my darling fiance in here with me quite soon. After the proposal in fact. But since we’ve dispensed with that..erm.. formality, we’ll be sure to move in together right away”

 

Oh dear Satan.. How is this meant to work? Crowley did love spending time with Aziraphale, but they often took breaks when Crowley became waspish or Aziraphale grew tired of Crowley lounging about on his sofa for days at a stretch. Crowley also needed to retreat to his flat periodically when being near Aziraphale grew too much to handle. When his lustful imaginings and his romantic yearnings started drifting too close to the surface. When this happened, he’d head home to… attend to himself physically as it were, and to yell at his plants and sleep in his own bed for a few days, until he got himself back under control again. But living here, with Aziraphale 24/7? He wouldn’t be able to wank away the buildup of sexual tension. Wouldn’t be able to distract himself from what the angel’s proximity did to his mind and body. He groaned inwardly at the thought of finding new and inventive ways to hide his feelings from the apparently asexual and completely oblivious angel. 


“Yeah. Of course” he echoed Aziraphale faintly. “Was gonna move in soon anyway”. 

 

“Good.” responded the immigration agent. “See that you do so forthwith. If you have any questions about the investigation, or there’s anything you feel it’s pertinent for me to know, here is my contact information”. She handed Crowley a business card with the words “Office Of Celestial and Demonic Intermarriage and Immigration (OOCDII)” with the name “Agent Ezelriphon” printed in gold letters beneath the agency name and a phone number. Beneath that, was an email address. “ ezelriphon@OOCDII.uk.gov”

 

“Right. Thank you” Crowley said numbly, putting the card into the inside pocket of his black jacket. 

 

“One more thing” Agent Ezelriphon added. “You’ll need to pass our investigation, with flying colors by New Year’s Day. You have from now..” she looked at her very fancy, very shiny watch “twelve sixteen PM in the afternoon on Thursday, December the 3rd, to January first, New Year’s Day 2020 to pass our investigatory reviews and either retain residency on earth indefinitely, or it’s back you go!”

 

They both nodded numbly at her. 

 

“Alright then. Please expect another visit from me at an undisclosed time in the near future. Have a nice day” And with that, Agent Ezelriphon turned on the heel of her sensible shoe and marched out of the shop. The clanging of the bell and the thump as the door closed behind her echoed in the sudden, awkward silence that was left in her wake as two very uncomfortable occult beings tried valiantly not to look at one another. 

 

“Well” Aziraphale spoke, after what felt like an interminable stretch of stiff silence. “I’ll put the kettle on shall I?”

 

“How can you think of tea at a time like this?!” Crowley exploded with incredulity at the angel’s suggestion. “We’ve just gotten married angel! I don’t know about you, but this was not how I expected my day to go when I woke up this morning” He scrubbed his hands through his hair and gave Aziraphale a pained look. 

 

“How indeed? Still, you heard Agent Ezelriphon, there isn’t much we can do about this situation right now Crowley, and I’ve often found that a nice cup of tea can be quite the soothing balm to a stressful situation”

 

“Fine” Crowley hissed out through gritted teeth, “Fine, but forget about the tea angel. Don’t you have anything stronger?”

 

“Yes, I do in fact, have a new bottle of rather good scotch I was planning to open on a special occasion. I suppose our… um… marriage ceremony is enough of a special occasion to warrant a drink”

 

“Thank all that’s demonic!” Crowley felt a flush of relief at the mention of hard liquor. “How are you so calm about this angel? I thought you’d be… upset?” A not very small portion of his brain hoped that Aziraphale might admit to being pleased at this insane turn of events, but he knew that was too much to expect.

 

“Well Crowley, I’ve always been a firm believer in making the best of a bad situation. I see no point in wailing and tearing out our hair over this. I’ll go get us that bottle shall I?”

 

A bad situation Crowley felt his stomach drop at the sound of those words leaving Aziraphale’s lips. That’s all the angel saw this as.  A bad situation . Of course he did. Crowley was a fool if he believed for an instant that Aziraphale would be pleased to find himself married to a demon like Crowley. 

 

He watched the angel’s receding back as Aziraphale made his way to the small kitchenette attached to his sitting room to go fetch the bottle of scotch. Oh well . He shouldn’t have expected Aziraphale to leap with glee. Regardless, Crowley saw a long, stilted, painful road ahead of them with this fake marriage situation. He’d be forced into behaving in ways he’d always wanted to towards the angel, but would have to know that deep down, Aziraphale was only participating in order to trick this insufferable Agent Ezelraphon into buying their sham marriage. It would be heartbreaking and awkward and uncomfortable for Crowley. 

 

And yet.. If they managed to convince this third party authority that they were well and truly married, perhaps they’d really win their freedom and could relax into their existence on earth for good. A few weeks time spent faking a love he was already consumed by in the face of Aziraphale’s disinterest was preferable to a probable execution upon returning to Hell. He was sure the other demons would give him a wide berth for a few hundred years, but they’d grow bolder and bolder as time went on. They were stupid, but they weren’t that stupid.

 

Aziraphale returned, bottle and two tumblers in hand and poured them both a generous portion of the amber liquid. Crowley knocked his drink back in one, long gulp, grimacing as the fiery liquor sluiced down his throat and burned in his nostrils. 

 

“So..” he began, feeling a bit braver and looser now that the large gulp of scotch was working its way through his system. “What shall we do next?”

 

“Well” Aziraphale sipped delicately at his drink, clearly (and strangely) less distraught than Crowley. “We need a game plan”

 

“A...game plan? Such as…” Crowley was curious to see what the angel would come up with. He had to admit, after the body swap idea, he’d gained some respect for Aziraphale’s ability to logic their way out of scrapes. 

 

“Certainly my dear. We can’t go about this thing on a whim, expecting to pull it off by play acting off the cuff. It has to look genuine and we can’t mess it up by stumbling or making nervous errors as it were.”

 

This sounded fair. Crowley poured himself another drink while waiting for Aziraphale to continue. 

 

“So clearly, you’ll move in here with me… temporarily as it were”

 

“What?!” Crowley was suddenly incredulous “Why don’t you move into my place angel?”

 

“Why, because I’d never leave my books dear boy.”

 

“What makes you think I’d leave my plants?” Crowley asked, feeling sullen. 

 

“Well, because you already spend so many nights sleeping on my sofa.. I just assumed they could manage on their own. And really dear, you could take trips back to… tend to them as it were, every few days, just like now. Only you wouldn’t sleep there. You’d… sleep here instead” He sounded a bit uncomfortable as he said this. 

 

Crowley had to admit that the angel made sense. His books were his life’s blood, his most prized possessions. It would be cruel to make the angel live without them, even for a brief period of time. “Alright” he relented. “I’ll move in here. I can simply move a few things from my flat over to your shop to make it look like I’m here permanently. Some… demon-type things. That should work.”

 

Aziraphale nodded in agreement. “And we’ll have to go on dates”

 

“Yeah.” Crowley replied, cheeks growing hot “Yeah. We’ll have to won’t we. Thing is angel, we already eat dinner out and take walks in the park all the time. Why can’t we just keep doing that?”

 

“We certainly do Crowley. Only now, we’ll have to be… more… affectionate.”

 

“Right” Crowley’s cheeks were probably bright red at this point. He hoped Aziraphale wouldn’t notice. Aziraphale himself was blushing, his cheeks coloring with pink, though that could just have been the consumption of scotch. “Well.. we could.. Hold hands I suppose?” he suggested.

“Yes.” Aziraphale agreed. “Yes. Married couples, newlyweds and such certainly do a lot of hand holding. That shouldn’t be that difficult.”

 

“What about kissing?” Crowley asked, then mentally kicked himself for sounding too eager. Stupid demon! Keep yourself under control!

 

“Oh…” Aziraphale looked genuinely surprised at the suggestion and Crowley found himself wishing the earth would open up and swallow him whole. 

 

“Well, yes...I suppose a bit of kissing would help matters along wouldn’t it?” 

 

“As long as you’re OK with it” Crowley responded in a voice thick with embarrassment.

 

“We must do what we have to mustn’t we? Stiff upper lip and all that” Aziraphale remarked, taking another, rather longer swallow of scotch while Crowley struggled to keep his heart from racing. 

 

“What.. like a few pecks on the cheek and so forth?” he ventured, voice shaking somewhat. 

 

“Yes. I think that will do nicely” Aziraphale nodded. Crowley felt a stab of irrational disappointment. What had he expected the angel to do? Suggest that they snog like teenagers on a park bench? 

 

“Yes. A few pecks should do just fine” Of course Aziraphale wouldn’t suggest anything racier than some chaste kisses on the cheek. He didn’t feel the way Crowley felt. He didn’t burn like Crowley burned. 

 

“How often should we go on these dates do you think? Did Agent Ezelriphon specify how often we had to go on dates in order to... um.. Pass inspection?”

 

“She did not” Aziraphale remarked dejectedly. “I suppose they’ll let us know when and if we pass. Until then, it’s best to assume we’re being watched when we’re anywhere but inside the bookshop. And when we are outside, we must do our best to behave like a real married couple.”

 

“Satan help us” Crowley sighed, and tipped another large swallow of scotch down his throat.