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.
They decided that their first date would be something simple. A walk in St. James’ Park, followed by dinner. They could stroll along the water, holding hands, then get some ice cream and simply sit together on a bench and chat. Later, they could go to dinner at a restaurant of Aziraphale’s choosing (as he was the one who ate most often). It would be simple (or so they both assumed) to add some hand holding and casual affectionate touch into a routine they were both very familiar with from thousands of years of friendship. They had after all, gone walking and had dinner in every era known to humankind. Couldn’t be that difficult could it?
Crowley kept a careful eye on Aziraphale’s face while they discussed the plans, looking for any sign that Aziraphale might actually relish the idea of going on a real date with Crowley. But he could see nothing out of the ordinary. Aziraphale didn’t appear flustered or nervous, neither negative nor positive about the proceedings. Crowley wasn’t sure how he felt.
And so it was that on the next sunny day, two days after their visit from Agent Ezelriphon, that they left the shop and headed to the park on foot. Aziraphale insisted that they walk, being that it would make them much more visible to these hidden OOCDII agents (they’d started calling them “Ookdee agents” as a joke and it had stuck) that were supposedly clocking their every move outside of the shop. They’d only been walking for a few minutes before Crowley felt Aziraphale cautiously take his hand. He felt his insides start to buzz with nervous energy at the feel of the angel’s soft, warm hand in his own. Aziraphale interlaced their fingers as if he’d done this a thousand times, rather than this being the very first time they’d ever touched this way.
Crowley took a few deep, calming breaths and did his best to get used to the feeling of their hands clasped, so intimately, in such an affectionate way. He’d thought about doing this with Aziraphale for longer than he could remember, but hadn’t ever tried it, coward that he was. He felt a moment of irritability that Aziraphale had the guts to do it first. But the angle had always excelled at following arbitrary rules. Heaven was full of them. That’s what this was to him.. Just more rules to follow in order to get to his goal of freedom from celestial intervention.
Still.. His hand in Crowley’s felt ever so nice. Azirpahale’s skin was very soft. Despite his centuries spent turning the pages of aged books, there wasn’t a single callous that Crowley could feel on the palm or the fingers that were mingled with and pressed up against his own. He started to swing their joined hands a bit and found himself whistling a happy little tune. It was a nice day. Bright and clear and chilly enough for a jacket, but not so cold as to be uncomfortable.
He turned to glance at Aziraphale out of the corner of his eye and saw that the angel also appeared to be enjoying their stroll to the park, if his gentle smile was any indication. Good, Thought Crowley, this is nice. Nice and easy . A few more weeks of this wouldn’t be a problem for either of them.
They reached the park and headed towards the path that would lead them around the circumference of the lake, walking at a leisurely pace. Hands still joined. There were other couples who’d had the same idea on this bright, lovely day. Men and women, some with baby carriages, others with dogs on leases, and even a few same sex couples dotted the crowded path. It was a Saturday, and so the park was rather crowded. This made Crowley relax a bit. It gave them some cover from spying Ookdee Agents and made being affectionate with Aziraphale less awkward as they’d now blend into the crowds rather than stand out.
After they’d walked for a few minutes, Aziraphale suggested that they have a seat and watch the ducks and swans drift by for a while and Crowley readily agreed. They sat, a little stiffly, hands still clasped, staring at the lake. This was a thing they’d done countless times before, but never while holding hands. It felt a bit weird. Aziraphale apparently had designs on making it weirder
“It would be nice if you could put your arm around my shoulders dearest” He remarked, raising his eyebrows at Crowley expectantly.
Crowley froze. Does he really want me to do that? Or is this just all part of the ruse? He supposed that would be a question that would haunt his love addled brain until this situation was finally over. With a resigned sigh, he disengaged his hand from the angel’s and looped a cautious arm around Aziraphale’s shoulders. It felt good. It felt really good. Aziraphale had very broad, nice shoulders, and Crowley’s arm settled comfortably across them, and against the back of the angel’s warm neck. Crowley was a couple of inches taller than the angel, making this position a cozy one for both of them.
Crowley struggled to get his heartbeat under control. This feels so natural He thought through a haze of nervous jitters.
And then Aziraphale made everything more complicated by leaning over and placing his head gently on Crowley’s shoulder. He simultaneously reached over and twined his fingers with Crowley’s free hand and let out a little sigh. “Isn’t this nice dearest?” he asked, his deep voice vibrating through the material of Crowley’s jacket and into the skin of his shoulder. His old fashioned cologne drifting up towards Crowley’s nostrils.
“Nnk!” Crowley squeaked, before gaining control of his vocal chords and responding stiffly “yeah angel. Real nice.”
They just sat there for a while, looking out at the water. Aziraphale’s body where it was pressed against Crowley was very warm. His cheek where it rested against Crowley’s shoulder was also warm. His fingers intertwined with Crowley’s fingers were soft and felt very good. Crowley allowed himself a deep, cleansing sigh and settled into their half-embrace. Might as well make the best of it shouldn’t he? They had to put on a good show for these shadowy agents… had to prove they were well and truly married.
He tried in vain to stifle the part of his brain that was yelling at him that this was all he’d ever wanted. All he’d ever dreamed of. To be closer to the beautiful angel who’d spent an eternity at his side.. So close and yet still so maddengly out of reach. He contracted his arm and squeezed Aziraphale a bit tighter against him and was rewarded with what sounded for all the world like a happy sigh from the angel, who swiftly snuggled in closer, giving his hand a squeeze.
“I think I need to walk some more.. Erm.. darling” he said stiffly, suddenly unable to cope with the feeling of Aziraphale’s body so close to his own. The size and scope of what this deception would entail was becoming a bit much for him to handle at the moment.
“Certainly dearest. Lets walk” Aziraphale gently extracted himself from Crowley’s embrace and they stood up awkwardly and started strolling along the water. Crowley was so distracted by the memory of Aziraphale’s warm softness, that he almost didn’t notice when the angel cleared his throat pointedly and bumped his hand into Crowley’s. Crowley obediently took the angel’s hand in his own again as they walked, keeping his eyes trained on the path in front of him, endlessly grateful for the billionth time that he’d gotten into the millennia old habit of wearing dark glasses whenever he was out in public.
After a couple of passes round the lake, they decided to stop for ice cream. Also something they did on occasion, though Crowley rarely ate all of his, and usually gave his uneaten portion to Aziraphale, after the angel had demolished his own treat. Looking back, their relationship did have about it quite a coupley vibe. They often shared food. They spent a lot of time eating together in restaurants, doing each other little favors, even giving one another small gifts on occasion. Crowley thought back to the time he’d rescued the angel’s books from the church bombing back some 68 years ago now. And how the angel had carefully filled a wooden basin full of ice water for the demon to soak his scorched feet after he’d danced down aisle to save Aziraphale from those Nazi goons.
He ordered Aziraphale’s favorite ice cream and then paid for it, passing it to the angel, who promptly leaned over and planted a soft kiss to Crowely’s cheek and muttered “thank you my darling” in a very sweet voice. Crowley felt his body temperature spike and he looked down and shuffled his feet on the blacktop of the park path to cover his spate of nerves. Well, they’d discussed the kissing thing hadn’t they? He couldn’t have expected a warning could he? Alright dear, I’m going to lean in and kiss you now. Is that OK? Would definitely have raised some Ookdie eyebrows. Still, the feel of the angel’s soft lips on his cheek stayed with him all through the rest of their walk.
It wasn’t lost on Crowley that it was always Aziraphale making the first moves physically, while Crowley just stood or walked next to him, feeling awkward and stilted and overwhelmed with nerves. How was it that Aziraphale was so brave? He supposed the angel’s bravery came from a lack of personal investment in the physical contact. To Aziraphale, a peck on the cheek was a means to an end. A way to convince the OOCDII that they were indeed a happily married couple. But to Crowley… A kiss on the cheek was a dream come true. A fantasy come to life. How could he experience such a thing and remain calm and rational?
Eventually, he suggested that they’d walked around enough in public and Aziraphale recommended that they should head to dinner at an Indian place they both liked. Crowley wondered if they’d be followed into the restaurant by Ookdee agents. And if so, would he be able to spot them? The restaurant wasn’t a large one, but who was to say what an Ookdie agent looked like? He pictured a figure in a trench coat and dark glasses, from a spy movie, but perhaps the agents looked like normal people, out for a nice dinner with friends or family?
Crowley had never heard of this branch of other worldly authority before a few days ago, but like Agent Ezelraphon had mentioned, they’d apparently been backlogged with paperwork for thousands of years. He wondered how many angels and how many demons had tried to sneak up (or down) to earth for an extended vacation. He and Aziraphale had been assigned officially to earth, but now they no longer had bosses, had given the proverbial flip off to their superiors, and so the powers that be must be itching to find a way to get rid of them. Either by consigning them to earth permanently, through legal channels (so no one had to deal with them any longer), or by forcing them back to their respective home offices to stand eventually trial and likely be executed. They couldn’t be allowed to wander aimlessly, without documentation. That would be far too chaotic for God’s or Heaven’s or Hell’s tastes.
The Office Of Celestial and Demonic Intermarriage and Immigration had even shut down Gabriel and Beelzebub’s plans to hang around on earth hadn’t they? That was surprising. The thought of those two, pretending to marry to get a chance to lurk semi-permanently among humans made Crowley smile a small, wicked smile. He would have paid good money to see the look on Lord Beelzebub’s face when contemplating marriage to the Archangel Gabriel. The fly headed demon had probably vomited at the suggestion.
Compare that to how he, Crowley felt at the thought of marrying Aziraphale, and well.. Quite the opposite was true. It was sadly ironic that if Aziraphale had shared his feelings, none of this fakery would even be necessary. He could simply propose, like he had half wanted to for millennia and be done with it. But no. Instead he was forced to play this false game. To play at wanting something he desperately wanted.
They entered the restaurant and took a seat at a table off to the side with a clear view of the door. The smells of cardamom, ginger, curry powder, onions and garlic enveloped them. Aziraphale sat back in his chair and took a deep breath, moaning softly at the delicious smells emanating from the kitchen and from the plates of nearby diners. Crowley wasn’t much for eating, but he had to agree with Aziraphale when the angel commented (as he often did) that Indian food was truly the food of God. The best food earthlings had yet come up with. The creamy sauces, the multiple spices, the fluffy garlic naan and spicy, tender meat and the flaky crust of homemade samosas. Well, it was definitely heavenly. Or sinful. Depending on which side you were on.
Aziraphale busied himself with ordering far too much food for two people, while Crowley looked around suspiciously at the other diners. No one looked particularly sneaky or suspicious. Just the usual London restaurant crowd. Groups of 20 somethings, sharing dinner. People in fancy suits out for business meetings. Young lovers on dates. His eye caught on two such people, a red haired young man, sitting across from a pretty young Indian woman, and he was suddenly struck by the glowing look of love in the young man’s eyes as he looked across the table at his date. As he watched, the young man reached over and placed his hand softly over the woman’s hand where it rested on the table. She blushed and looked up at him through long dark lashes and he grinned like a fool. Was this how people in love were supposed to act?
Might as well find out he thought, turning to look at Aziraphale, who was also looking around at the other diners, perhaps wondering, like Crowley if there were any Ookdee agents in the crowd, or simply thinking random angel things. He noticed that Aziraphale’s hand was resting on the table, next to his plate, and so, deciding it was high time he took some initiative in this endeavor to seem married, he reached over and placed his hand over Aziraphale’s.
“Are you having a nice day my love?” He asked, making sure his voice sounded gentle and solicitous, but wincing inwardly at how vulnerable he felt saying such affectionate things out loud to the angel for the first time in their long relationship.
A dusty pink color spread swiftly across the tops of Aziraphale’s cheeks as looked down where Crowley’s hand rested softly atop his own. “Oh.” He said, seeming somewhat taken aback. “Oh.. I… Yes. I’m having a lovely day with you darling. Thank you for asking.” He seemed to think for a moment, then grasped Crowley’s hand in his and brought it slowly up to his mouth and kissed the back of it with an achingly soft, gentle press of his lips, all while looking at Crowley through his lashes, in much the same way the young woman had looked at her date just a few seconds ago.
Crowley heard a small choking sound escape his mouth and felt his cheeks catch on fire in what was probably an epic blush. He had a sudden, panicked urge to pull his hand back from Aziraphale’s lips. They’d spent so many millennia hiding their connection. To go from pretending it didn’t exist to pretending to be madly in love was giving him whiplash. But he persevered. He let Aziraphale keep hold of his hand and let him deliver a few more deeply affecting kisses with his ridiculously soft lips.
Just as quickly as he’d grabbed it, Aziraphale let go of Crowley’s hand, looking slightly embarrassed at his forward behavior, and they both sat in an awkward silence until the waiter came with their order of garlic naan. Crowley cleared his throat and said in a voice slightly louder than he’d normally use.. “I’m really looking forward to getting you home so we can … erm… snuggle” He gave Aziraphale a wan smile, hoping this was the sort of thing married people said to each other over dinner.
Aziraphale’s face turned slightly pinker “Oh that would be lovely Crowley. Snuggling with you sounds wonderful” he grinned back, a touch stiffly, a look in his eyes that read there.. I did good didn’t I?
“Yes.. perhaps we could watch a movie and snuggle on the sofa together?” Crowley had heard a thousand couples say this very banal, repetitive thing to each other in the tube station, at bus stops at neighboring tables when he and Aziraphale went out to eat, ever since the dawn of Netflix. It seemed to be all couples wanted to do. “Netflix and chill”. The “chill” part was a bit confusing to Crowley. From the way humans grinned at each other when they said it, he assumed it had to do with sex. And so he’d studiously avoided the words “Netflix” and “chill” when asking Aziraphale to snuggle after dinner.
They wouldn’t snuggle of course. He had to remind himself of this. They’d go home and have a drink or two and maybe talk about the ways in which today had been stressful or awkward, and then Aziraphale would read and Crowley would nap on his couch.
But Crowley wished they could snuggle. That was the problem. In fact, right now, as Aziraphale was going on about the history of naan bread and somehow dovetailing this with the history of political unrest in India over seven centuries ago, Crowley was half lost in a little fantasy of wrapping the soft angel up in his arms and holding him tight. Of maybe running gentle fingers through his wild, white-blond curls. Of Crowley burying his face in the angel’s sweet smelling neck and pressing his body close to Aziraphale’s
“Are you alright my darling? You look a bit distant” Azirpahale spoke around a mouth full of naan bread.
“Oh, I’m fine. Fine angel. I just suddenly wish we were home. I’ve grown tired of being out and about.” As he said it, he realized it was true. All day he’d felt watched. The combination of paranoia over thinking they were under constant surveillance, and the emotional ups and downs of Aziraphale being physically affectionate in a way he’d never been before were exhausting. He just wanted to be behind the sheltering walls of the bookshop again, where things could go back to normal for a while.
“Well then my dear, why not take this food to go? We can head home now if you like?”
Crowley felt a rush of relief and affection for Aziraphale’s rational decision making skills. “That’d be great angel. Are you certain though.” He let his voice drop to a whisper and leaned in so that (hopefully) only Aziraphale would hear him. “I thought we could benefit from... being… you know… public for a while longer”.
“Oh pish posh! We know that we love each other. I refuse to turn this marriage into a public circus just to please some bureaucratic stuffed shirt!”.
Crowley almost choked on his drink. My but Aziraphale was really taking this play acting thing seriously! He was also a genius. He’d managed to openly address the farce they were setting up and complain of how restrictive it was, but in a way that actually made them look more genuinely married than before he’d said it. Clever angel.
They told the waiter to pack the food to go and started back to the bookshop. Crowley was already finding it easier to breath, easier to relax after Aziraphale’s perfectly worded, well timed outburst in the restaurant. To anyone observing them, they were simply a married couple who were chaffing under the invasive eyes of an investigative team of government agents. Not , it was important to note, a completely unmarried pair of occult beings, trying to fool an investigative team of government agents. It was an important distinction, and one that allowed Crowley to relax a bit.
They soon reached the bookstore and immediately upon entering Crowley walked quickly to the back room, tossed his shades onto a side table and threw himself down on Aziraphale’s comfortable sofa. He felt as if he’d worked at a manual labor job all day, when all he’d really done was take a few turns around a lake and sit in an Indian restaurant for twenty minutes.
Aziraphale went to fix himself a fragrant bowl of butter chicken, rice and bhindi masala and then came to sit and eat in the armchair next to the sofa, making happy little noises as he chewed. “I think we did rather well today, don’t you dear?” he asked, around a mouthful of spicy okra and rice.
“Yeah” mumbled Crowley, an arm slung across his eyes, a pillow clutched to his chest. “Yeah, we did good. But it was exhausting. Makes me never want to leave the bookshop again.”
There was a brief pause in the chewing noises. “It wasn’t all that horrible was it dearest?” Aziraphale’s voice was suddenly small and uncertain.
“Oh.. yeah.. Spending the day with you was fun” Crowley swiftly amended. “But that whole ‘pretending to be in love’ business is exhausting. I felt like I was on one long job interview all day”.
Aziraphale didn’t respond, he just continued eating in silence. Crowley felt that he may have said something wrong, but wasn’t quite sure what it could be. It didn’t matter because within ten minutes he was unconscious.
They stayed in the bookshop for a couple of days, Crowley lacking the courage to venture out again, and Aziraphale possibly lacking the desire to force him to do so. Aziraphale read and shelved a new box of books, while Crowley spent some time magicking little demonic nicknacks from his apartment over to the bookshop and setting them up in a way he thought said ‘a demon lives here and is quite happy about it!’. He even brought over the statue he’d saved from the bombed out church and used a couple of well placed demonic spells to make room for it near the entrance to the shop.
“Why is it that you kept that thing?” Aziraphale asked him that afternoon, eyeing the statue curiously. He’d never asked about it before, though Crowley was certain he’d seen the statue on the few occasions he’d visited Crowley’s flat.
Crowley was suddenly a bit apprehensive. He’d forgotten to come up with a fake story about why he’d kept the statue. The real reason, the one he didn’t want Aziraphale to know about, was that it reminded him of that night. The night they’d worked together to save the both of them from gun wielding, murderous Nazis. It reminded him of what it was like to see Aziraphale again, after a rather longer-than-normal separation after their argument over the holy water in 1862. But most of all, it was a reminder of the way Aziraphale had looked at him as he’d handed the dazed angel a bag of rescued books. The way the angel’s eyes had gleamed with affection and gratitude and how his soft thumb had slid across Crowley’s pointer finger as he’d passed the handle of the bag to Aziraphale.
“Oh.. well… I liked it. Thought it was kind of bad ass as the Americans say” He replied lamely. Aziraphale nodded, accepting his excuse without a request for further explanation and Crowley relaxed back into his seat on the sofa and took another sip of his coffee. He waved his hand and one of his smaller plants, trembling slightly in confusion at suddenly finding itself in an entirely different location, popped into being on the top of a nearby bookshelf.
“Right! Listen up you!” Crowley yelled at the small pot of Viper’s Bowstring Hemp, shaking gently on it’s new perch. “Just because you’re in a new place is no excuse for slacking! I want you just as green and verdant as you were back at home, or it’ll be the garbage disposal for you!”
Aziraphale clucked his tongue disapprovingly, but kept quiet.
As evening rolled around, the angel looked up from a book he’d been reading “Crowley dear, I’m peckish. Lets go out and eat. It’ll give us a chance to … make our case for the Ookdees again. I fear we’ve been slacking.”
Crowley sighed a resigned sigh. “Yes. I suppose you’re right. I wish it wasn’t so awkward though.. The affection part.”
“Oh, well that’s swiftly remedied my dear”
“How so?” Crowley asked, uncertain of where the angel was headed next.
“Well…” Aziraphale seemed suddenly a bit shy. “We could… practice. While we’re here in the bookshop. Practice for when we’re out there being observed.”
“Practice?” Crowley’s clothing felt suddenly quite restrictive, his face was growing hot and he’d broken out in a faint sweat at his hairline. “Practice… what exactly?”
“Why practice being affectionate of course” Aziraphale continued, sounding far too calm and rational. The angel wasn’t looking at Crowley, and instead was looking back down at the pages of the book he had open in his lap, as if he’d suggested popping by the market for some fresh vegetables. Casual as you please.
“Um….” Crowley choked out. “Err…” His brain had stopped working momentarily.
“Yes! I think that’s a rather good idea if I do say so myself” Aziraphale snapped the book shut and stood up, tugging his ever present waistcoat into place and clearing his throat. “It will help us feel more natural and look less … awkward for these agents, don’t you think my dear?”
Crowley looked up at the angel with incredulity, but Aziraphale didn’t budge. He simply stood there, in front of his armchair, looking expectantly at Crowley.. Crowley, who was at this point cumbusting inwardly. “Oh…” he managed to say “Oh.. well… If you think it would h-help. Um.. how do you suppose we go about this?”
“Well” Aziraphale sighed gently and placed his hands on his hips “You being the demon who does the tempting and all, I thought you’d be able to take the lead on this”
“Right” Crowley squeaked, his voice shooting up several octaves. “Right” he repeated, hoping he sounded more in control of himself. “Of course. I’m the demon. Right. Well… I think perhaps if we’re to do any more kissing, then it would be a lot less awkward to practice I. I erm… I feel like I’ve got the hand holding down pat as it were” He put down his coffee mug and stood up as well, regarding Aziraphale sideways with a glance he hoped betrayed confidence, and not the terror mixed with butterfly wings that was currently filling every cell of his body.
“Alright then” Replied Aziraphale. “I think in that case, you’d best come a bit closer shouldn’t you?”
Crowley cleared his throat and stepped up closer to Aziraphale, his heart pounding, his pulse racing. Aziraphale looked at him expectantly and patiently, clearly not at all nervous. Crowely took this to mean that the angel wasn’t very emotionally invested in this whole kissing thing. Meanwhile, Crowley had dreamed of kissing the angel for literally millennia. Oh dear Satan , Crowley prayed pointlessly please give me the strength to get through this.
“Well.” He continued out loud. “I think the cheek kissing thing is pretty simple… but if you think we should be kissing… um… on the mouth as it were. Well, that will take some… erm… some practice.” He was pretty certain it would be possible to cook an egg on his face with how hot he’d become.
“Right. I’ve only ever kissed like that a few times before” Aziraphale responded.
“You have??” Crowley felt a flush of intense jealousy “Who’ve you kissed like that before?” his voice had gone sharp and he mentally kicked himself for it.
“Oh, no one of my choosing exactly.” Aziraphale looked slightly embarrassed for a moment, glancing down at the shop floor, his cheeks coloring somewhat. “People tend to feel inclined to be.. Very affectionate towards me, what with me being a creature of heavenly love and all, and over the years, a few young ladies and young gentleman have sort of… how would you say it? Thrown themselves at me? I gently pushed them off and they erm.. Backed away without a struggle, but, well lets just say, I’ve been kissed and pawed at a few times over the centuries. Not that it wasn’t nice.. I just wasn’t interested in any of them as it were”
The mental image of Aziraphale being hit on aggressively was a pleasing one to Crowley. So pleasing in fact that he found he had to push it from his conscious mind for the time being. Yes, it appears I could possibly be quite kinky he thought ruefully. Out loud though, he said. “Oh, I understand”
“And what about you?” Aziraphale asked, stepping a bit closer. “Have you had much experience with kissing?”
“Pretty much the same as you.” Crowley replied. “I um...gave it a try as part of the whole tempting thing, but it always felt a bit wrong, with humans, and so I stopped.” it would have felt right.. With you is what he would have added had he not been such a coward.
“Right! Well, we have our work cut out for us don’t we? It’s a good thing I suggested practicing isn’t it?” Aziraphale’s cheery smile seemed a bit strained.
Crowley could only nod in agreement. He didn’t trust himself to speak. Aziraphale had stepped up rather close to him at this point and was looking at him with those large, luminous, hazel eyes. The eyes that had haunted Crowley’s dreams for far too long.
“Well now” Aziraphale continued in a businesslike manner. “Will you be.. Getting us started then?”
Crowley nodded again and swallowed thickly, his mouth very dry all of a sudden. He stepped a little bit closer to Aziraphale and took a deep, shaky breath. Then he leaned in and keeping his eyes open to gauge the angel’s reaction, he gently placed his lips to Aziraphale’s. He kept his lips pressed there, against the angel’s very soft mouth for a few seconds, then leaned back. “How was that?” he asked nervously. His brain had shorted out a bit during the kiss and so he wasn’t quite sure if he’d done it right.
“That was… well.. That was nice” the angel said, not sounding particularly enthused.
“Nice?” Crowley flinched inwardly at the lukewarm review. “Nice?” he repeated incredulously.
“Oh, it was very.. Um. pleasant.” Aziraphale’s tone was reassuring in a way that Crowley didn’t like at all.
“We could always try again” Crowley said stiffly, looking down at his shoes.
“Yes we could. Why don’t we give that another go?” Aziraphale suggested.
“Fine then” Crowley responded. “It might be more, erm.. realistic if I were to put my arms around you, do you think?”
“Oh most definitely!”
Crowley gently wrapped his arms around Aziraphale’s neck and he felt Aziraphale place his arms around Crowley’s waist. The angel’s face, his soft lips and glowing eyes were very close now, and Crowley hoped he didn’t make a fool out of himself with this whole kissing experiment. Perhaps he wasn’t all that good at it after all…
“Well then” he said “here we go” and leaned in, capturing Aziraphale’s lips with his own a bit more firmly than before. He heard Azirapahle make a little surprised noise as their lips met and felt a warm rush of air through the angel’s nose as it brushed against his cheek. He tightened his arms a little around the Aziraphale’s neck as he pressed their lips together and felt Aziraphale tighten his arms around the demon’s waist at the same time.
He broke off after a few more seconds, his head spinning and looked expectantly into Aziraphale’s eyes. The angel looked dazed, and he smiled at Crowley uncertainly. “That was better dear” He pronounced, his voice gone a bit strained. “Rather more… believable I’d say” he added, and Crowley nodded awkwardly.
They both realized that they had their arms wrapped around each other and stepped back swiftly. Crowley looked back down at his shoes, scrubbing the back of his neck and willing his face to stop burning. The feeling of the angel’s lips against his own, even if it never happened again, was swiftly turning into his most cherished memory.
Aziraphale though, was back to being all business. “I think that’s enough practice for now” he said, voice stiff as he took a couple more steps away from Crowley. “But it was quite a good go for our first… and erm.. second try.” He then swiftly stepped around Crowley and made his way into the kitchen, leaving the demon feeling a little lonely and disappointed as he sank back down onto the sofa and picked up his now cool coffee. He snapped his fingers and the dark brown liquid in his cup was instantly back to piping hot. He certainly seemed in a rush to stop kissing me the demon couldn’t help the thought from echoing through his addled brain as he sipped at his coffee. Maybe he found the whole thing unpleasant?
Aziraphale returned shortly afterwards and suggested that they head out to eat soon. Crowley agreed and they grabbed their coats and headed for the door. Crowley mentally steeled himself to embark on another stilted evening of pretend affection. Perhaps it would go better, more smoothly this time? They’d broken a few long held touch barriers between them. That had to make this whole married affection thing easier to do hadn’t it?
This time they took the Bentley. They were headed to a restaurant across town, and the walk was too long to go on foot. Crowley drove like he normally did, rounding corners with a screeching of tires, casually blowing through red lights. Aziraphale gripped at the roof and the window frame as he usually did and scolded Crowley gently on how he really should slow down. Back to normal Crowley thought happily. It felt good to revert to a well worn routine, that of Crowley driving like a madman and of Aziraphale gasping in fear and scolding him passive aggressively whilst pedestrians leaped out of the Bentley’s path.
And then Aziraphale had put his hand on Crowley’s leg. Rather high up on Crowley’s leg in fact. It was done, apparently to brace himself around a rather sharp turn, and Crowley couldn’t help but gasp in surprise at the feel of the angel’s hot palm, pressing firmly into his upper thigh. Aziraphale didn’t seem to notice, and kept his hand there, like a burning hot brand on Crowley’s leg for several more seconds, until the car hit another straightaway, at which point, he removed it. Crowley shot a sidelong glance at Aziraphale but saw no evidence that Aziraphale was aware of the strangely intimate thing he’d just done. There was still a little warm spot, slowly fading from the material of Crowley’s tight jeans where Aziraphale’s hand had rested. Crowley had to force himself to look at the road and focus on driving.
Soon, they were pulling into a miraculously empty parking spot in front of the restaurant Aziraphale wanted to try. They made their way inside and a good table by the large fireplace at the back of the restaurant had just become available. Crowley pulled out Aziraphale’s chair, conscious again that they might be watched, and Aziraphale smiled lovingly at him. “Thank you dearest” he remarked as he settled himself comfortably in his seat. Crowley sat down across from him and ordered a bottle of red wine for them.
“I like this place” he remarked, definitely feeling a bit more comfortable being in public as Aziraphale’s fake spouse. Perhaps he was getting used to the idea. He looked around under the guise of admiring the decor, but also to see if he could spot anyone looking too intently in their direction. The restaurant was decorated in mahogany and deep red velvet and bright, brass chandeliers and had a warm, welcoming feel to it. Not unlike a study, or a high end library.
“Yes, I rather liked the look of it on their website” remarked Aziraphale, who after a couple of decades of practice could now be relied upon to use a web browser to look up restaurant menus without getting too lost. “And they’re rumored to do a fantastic steak!”
“Sounds nice darling”, the affectionate pet name slipped out a little too easily, but Crowley supposed that was the whole point wasn’t it? “Lets get steaks then.”
And so they did. Crowley ordered a small cut, knowing he’d only eat a few bites, and Aziraphale ordered a large T-bone. Crowley poured them both a glass of the red wine and sat back in his chair to sip it leisurely, while watching Aziraphale surreptitiously through his dark shades. He’d spent so many long centuries watching the angel eat this way, without letting on that he enjoyed it as much as he did. Even now, he watched with hidden enjoyment as Aziraphale took his sweet time spreading a pat of yellow butter, daintily onto a small dinner roll and took a bite. He watched as the angel’s eyes fluttered closed at the taste and feel of the buttered bread as it spread inside his mouth and settled into his taste buds. Aziraphale let out a little groan of pleasure, and Crowley shifted, uncomfortably in his seat at what that little noise did to his insides.
Aziraphale was likely a virgin where human sex was concerned. He’d almost admitted as much to Crowley earlier that evening, but oh how he made love to food. When it came to food, Aziraphale was a seasoned and skilled lover. He was able to not only describe in detail, the history of each dish, of each ingredient in his favorite meals, but could also wax rhapsodic on the several different ways to prepare such dishes. He had detailed and intimate knowledge of the culinary arts from every possible angle, and had tasted almost every gastronomic delight the world had offered up to him, from the first, rustic bowls of lamb stew cooked over camel dung camp fires, out in the sand dunes of ancient Egypt, to the most flawlessly executed, ornate desserts offered up at London’s most renowned modern bakeries. The angel had tried and enjoyed it all.
Sometimes Crowley grew envious of Aziraphale’s seemingly endless love of food, of his ability to sit for hours and read the ancient first edition books he loved so much, but Crowley was a creature of modern tastes. He was always dressed in the sharpest fashions of any era, while Aziraphale kept to the same, well worn waistcoat and bowtie. Always making sure his hair was perfectly coifed and styled, while Aziraphale’s wild halo of white curls stayed ever the same. Crowley made sure to always take advantage of the newest technologies, whether it be the first ink pen, or the latest i-phone. He had no time for eating and reading, finding it far preferable to drink, to dance in night clubs, to dip his toe here and there into different sinful human delights. Things like drug used (he’d dabbled), kinky sex (he’d watched a lot of it and had tempted many people into engaging in it, even if he hadn’t sampled any himself, though he had engaged in it solo, in as many ways as it was possible to imagine, so he supposed that counted for something..), or surfing the ebb and flow of capitalist endeavors, watching money change hands and watching shiny new pieces of technology drop in price and climb in complexity. He loved nudging humans this way and that, always towards gluttony, greed, lust.
He never went too far though, never really harmed anyone, preferring to keep his mischief to the irritating and frustrating, and away from the truly cruel or painful. Besides, there was a very disapproving angel to deal with if he ever did any lasting harm any humans. All Aziraphale had to do was imply that he doubted Crowley’s moral fiber, insinuate that Crowley had done something wrong and Crowley would feel a lump of guilt and shame settle uncomfortably in the center of his chest. He didn’t like that the angel’s opinion meant so much to him, but he couldn’t seem to shake it off. And so when Aziraphale pouted and exclaimed something along the lines of “How could you Crowley?!” or “What in heaven’s name did you just do to that poor, poor man?”, Crowley would relent and fall all over himself to reassure the angel that he had pulled his punches significantly and that no real harm had been done.
To be fair, Crowley did also seem to have the power to pull Aziraphale off his high horse a little bit now and then. He was able to gently convince Aziraphale to accept the extra muffin that the baker had accidentally included in his order.. To keep the 10 pound note he’d found tumbling down the street, as opposed to executing a miracle to find the true owner of the money and spending half the afternoon hunting them down to return it. He knew it was a two way influence, this long friendship. He liked the yin and yang, give and take of the good and evil between them. The push and pull they’d fallen into over the millennia. It had grown into a well worn routine. A game of sorts that he suspected Aziraphale enjoyed playing as much as he did.
Their steaks arrived, Crowley’s accompanied by a small pile of mixed, steamed vegetables, Aziraphale’s with a mound of buttery, whipped potatoes, a larger pile of vegetables and pear and goat cheese side salad. Aziraphale happily tucked in, chatting amiable with Crowley as he did so, his lovely face lit up with pleasure over the meal and the admittedly delightful wine they were drinking. Crowley began to forget that they were meant to be performing a false marriage and relaxed into simply enjoying Aziraphale’s company. He let himself lean back in his chair and grin broadly at Aziraphale’s old fashioned jokes and hopelessly charming turns of phrase. Aziraphale in turn hit him with smile after megawatt smile.
“My, that was simply delightful” the angel remarked after swallowing the last bite of tender steak and washing it down with a swallow of wine. He delicately dabbed at the corners of his mouth and leaned back in his chair as well, fixing Crowley with a happy grin. “Did you enjoy your meal dearest?”
“Yes I did.” Crowley replied, though he’d had only a few bites, even he had to admit it had been quite good. “We should come back here sometime angel”
“That would be nice.” It was then that they heard a band strike up in the next room. Apparently, the restaurant also included a lounge and a small dance floor.
Aziraphale’s eyes lit up at the sound of the musicians starting up, as Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me To The Moon” came drifting over to their table.
“Oh Crowley darling! Can we dance?” He placed an excited hand on top of Crowley’s and gave it a little squeeze.
Crowley was struck dumb. They’d never danced before. Not together. Aziraphale was virtually rhythmless, and Crowley preferred undulating on the dance floors of dark clubs to dancing in the arms of a partner. He wondered briefly at Aziraphale’s request, until Aziraphale got up from where he was sitting to come and whisper quietly in Crowley’s ear “ Crowley, married couples do romantic things, and dancing together is romantic. This could work for us!” He then pulled Crowley up and out of his chair without waiting for a response and dragged the blushing, confused demon to the dance floor. “Dream a Little Dream of Me” was just beginning, and a smoky voiced female singer crooned out the first few lines as Aziraphale led them to the center of the dancefloor, populated sparsely by other couples and pulled him into a close embrace, his hand in Crowley’s placing Crowley’s other hand on his waist.
“There. That wasn’t so hard was it?” After saying so, he started to sway gently, pulling Crowley with him. “I feel like you should probably lead darling. Demons should lead should they not?”
Crowley wasn’t sure where Aziraphale’s logic came from but he dutifully began to steer the angel around the dance floor, suddenly a bit more out of breath than he had any right to be. Aziraphale’s hand in his was warm and soft. The feel of the angel’s thick, soft waist beneath the material of his shirt and waistcoat felt ever so nice against Crowley’s hand. Crowley experimentally pulled Aziraphale closer and dared to whisper into his ear, hoping that these pesky Ookdee agents wouldn’t have advanced listening capabilities “This was a good idea angel. We look very married right now”
Aziraphale blushed gently and nodded. Instead of pulling back though, he pressed his cheek against Crowley’s and leaned into Crowley’s chest. Crowley let out a shaky breath and struggled not to trip over his own feet at the feel of Aziraphale in his arms, the smell of Aziraphale (red wine and vanilla and a brand of shaving cream that had gone out of fashion sixty years ago) wafted up and enveloped him.
He realized that he had been subconsciously fighting this whole, embarrassing, false marriage situation since it had started. He was afraid that leaning into it too convincingly would give his true feelings away, but now, as he felt Aziraphale sway warmly in his arms, as the words of the song floated over them ( Stars shining bright above you.. Night breezes seem to whisper “I love you” ) he felt himself relaxing, felt his limbs softening and his breathing slow down. Why not enjoy himself a bit? What did he have to lose? This was probably the only time in the history of their relationship when he could treat Aziraphale in the ways he truly wanted to. So what if the angel didn’t feel the same way. He could pretend couldn’t he?
Crowley wrapped his arm more tightly around Aziraphale’s waist and pulled the angel closer to him. He buried his nose in the wild hair next to Aziraphale’s ear and slowly breathed in his scent. Aziraphale melted against him very convincingly, and it was easy for Crowley to imagine, for this magical moment that the angel returned the love and affection that Crowley had held for so long, hidden inside his demon’s heart. He felt a magnetic pull draw his lips towards the angel’s cheek, and then the side of his mouth and then they were kissing, lips on lips. It was a chaste kiss, a soft, simple kiss, but it lasted far longer than Crowley expected, and he heard Aziraphale sigh a deep, contented sigh against his chest as their lips stayed pressed together.
They broke apart after what felt like an endless, perfect moment and Aziraphale rested his head on Crowley’s shoulder. “My darling” he said softly.
“My love” breathed Crowley in response. He marveled at how easy it was to confess such a thing under the guise of playacting, and continued to sway them both back and forth, completely lost in the music, in the feel of Aziraphale’s body held in his arms in a way he’d never dared to do before tonight.
Eventually, the song ended, and the couples on the dance floor stepped apart and applauded the singer, who grinned and bowed, letting her long blond tresses spill about her face. The sudden noise broke Crowley out of his trance. He felt Aziraphale stiffen slightly against him and he pulled back, suddenly self conscious without the music and the cover of other dancing couples to help keep the mood going. The singer announced that the band would be taking a short break before the next song, and Crowley stepped away from Aziraphale, feeling awkward and out of place on the now silent dance floor. Couples were drifting back to their tables. “I suppose, we could head home” he mumbled, keeping his eyes carefully away from Aziraphale’s face.
“Yes.. yes. That would be nice. It’s been a lovely evening.” Crowley lead them both back to their table where they grabbed their coats and awkwardly, quietly waited for the waiter to bring the check. Crowley’s head was spinning a little from the lingering intimacy of the dance, and the stilted silence that now descended on their dinner table. Azirpahale, usually quite effusive, hadn’t said a thing since they’d stopped dancing. The angel seemed preoccupied. Or perhaps unsettled?
“You alright angel?” Crowley asked, trying to sound casual.
“Yes dear. I’m fine. I think I’d just like to go home” Aziraphale replied, a touch stiffly, which didn’t make Crowley feel any better.
Soon though, the waiter brought back Crowley’s credit card and the two of them made their way back out to the car. Crowley walked around to the passenger side and opened it for Aziraphale, who surprised him by stepping up close and planting another kiss on Crowley’s lips. Crowley leaned back against the Bentley for support, knocked onto his heels by the angel’s body colliding gently with his own, the angel’s lips pressing insistently against his in a way that momentarily took his breath away. Aziraphale leaned back and winked at him “Thank you for dinner, my husband ” he said with a sly grin. Ahh Crowley thought Of course. This is the last chance we’ll have tonight to be seen being affectionate in public. He wants to make it count . Smart angel.
“Anytime angel” he replied with a wink of his own. He made sure Aziraphale was comfortable and then walked around to the driver’s side and got in. He made sure to drive at a more sedate pace back to the shop. Back home he thought with a pang of regret that the bookshop wasn’t his real home. He assumed that once this marriage nonsense was behind them that Crowley would naturally move back to his own flat. But for now, he could pretend.
Soon they were back in Aziraphale’s sitting room. Crowley, full of good wine, had started to doze a bit. “Darling” Aziraphale said softly. “You don’t have to sleep on the couch if you don’t want to. You’d be more than welcome to avail yourself of my bed”
Crowley coughed a bit into his hand to cover the surprised spluttering that bubbled up inside him at hearing Aziraphale welcoming Crowley into his bed. Of course, the angel never slept, he quickly reminded himself. He wouldn’t be going to bed with Crowley. He was simply offering him a more spacious, possibly more comfortable place to sleep. “Yeah.” Crowley responded “Yeah, that might be nice”
“Jolly good. I’ll get you some fresh bedclothes and you can head up whenever you’d like. I thought perhaps I’d join you if that’s alright?”
Now Crowley really did splutter a bit in surprise. “Oh… Oh… I. I… thought you didn’t sleep angel?”
“I don’t precisely, but sometimes I do have a lie down so I can rest my eyes. And It would certainly help us stay in character if we grew accustomed to lying together in bed.. Like real couples do.. Get us used to being physically close.. And what if Agent Ezelriphon asks us questions about where we sleep? ‘On a couch’ and ‘not at all’ aren’t very marital responses are they? Unless you mind of course...” he left the words hanging in the air, giving the demon ample opportunity to refuse.
Crowley was not about to argue, though the request, from a being who had probably slept a total of fifteen minutes over the past six thousand years did seem a bit out of place. “Sure angel. Anything you think will help”
“Fine then. Go on up and I’ll join you later. I’ll be careful not to wake you dearest”
“Alright. Thank you” Crowley quickly headed upstairs, trying to suppress the butterflies that flitted through his stomach at the thought of sleeping next to Aziraphale. True to his word, the angel had miracled fresh sheets, plump new pillows and a cozy looking tartan blanket onto the queen sized bed in his relatively small bedroom upstairs. Crowley undressed to his black undershirt and black silk boxers and crawled gratefully under the covers. The sheets were flannel, also tartan, and they warmed a bit against his skin. Still he’d never been great at producing his own body heat. He rolled over onto his side, with his back to the door and settled in.
He must have drifted off to sleep, because an indeterminable time later, he woke with a start as the springs of the ancient mattress compressed with a faint squeak, and Aziraphale carefully climbed in beside him. He moved around a bit to get comfortable and eventually lay still. The angel radiated heat like a furnace and Crowley found himself, still loose and half awake in the darkness of the bedroom, slowly inching closer and closer to the hot body next to him, under the guise of adjusting his position. He inched over until his back and buttucks were gently pressed up against Aziraphale’s side. The feel of the angel’s intense heat, leeching into his skin through the thin fabric of his shirt and his boxers, made Crowley sigh deeply with contentment and he promptly lost consciousness again.
Someone commented that this is like Green Card, and YES, YES IT IS, and THANK YOU! That is one of my favorite rom coms of all time, and if you haven't seen it, you definitely should!
He awoke alone and significantly colder than when Aziraphale had lain beside him. He blearily rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and grabbed for his cell phone to check the date and time. He doubted Aziraphale would let him sleep for a straight week, but he had a habit of letting his naps stretch out unusually long.. Sometimes decades long if he weren’t careful.
Thankfully, it was actually the morning after the night he’d fallen asleep. 10:16am to be exact. He yawned and stretched and smelled coffee and bacon downstairs. He could hear Aziraphale bustling about in the kitchen, and he smiled, already mentally picturing the angel in one of his ridiculous aprons he wore whenever he cooked bacon (often tartan, and sometimes even with frills as the angel had zero compunction against wearing women’s aprons or using oven mitts with flowers all over them).
Crowley rolled out of bed and pulled on his jeans, snapping them clean and new in the process, along with his silky black shirt, then he stumbled downstairs in search of some coffee.
“Good morning dear!” Aziraphale chirped as soon as he caught sight of Crowley’s groggy face. “Did you sleep well? Would you like some coffee?”
Crowley was momentarily struck by the sight of the angel, shirt sleeves rolled up, tartan apron tied around his waist, hands on his wide hips, smiling brightly at Crowley. He had a smudge of flour on his cheek and his hair was in even more disarray than usual.
I could gladly wake up to this every morning Crowley thought. And then, the warm glow of that thought was pierced through with a pang of regret. If only the angel felt the same way.. But he doesn’t.
“Oh no dearest. Is something wrong?” Apparently the storm cloud in Crowley’s heart had shown up on his face, because Aziraphale had picked up on something amiss in the demon’s manner.
“Nothing much angel… just. What exactly are we going to do after this?” He asked, knowing he sounded petulant and not caring. “What’s next?”
“Well, I thought perhaps another walk in the park. It’s supposed to be a nice sunny day today, not too cold and we could-”
“No angel, not this morning . I mean for the rest of our time on earth. Or, if Satan forbid, we don’t pass this stupid investigation and they send us back to our head offices. How will we evade being executed? I know we pulled off a convincing little act with that body swap, but that can only keep us safe for so long. Perhaps that whole running off to the stars together thing might be a good idea after all?”
“Oh dearest. Don’t worry. I know we’ll pass their tests and be allowed to stay here. Why you heard it from Agent Ezelriphon herself. You and I are clearly much easier around each other than any other angel and demon, or in fact any other angel and angel or demon and demon friendship either of us have ever known! We’ll fool them. I just know we will.”
“But…what if we don’t” Crowley’s heart sank at hearing Aziraphale talk about “friendship” and “fooling them”. It drove home that the angel didn’t really want to be Crowley’s spouse in real life after all. And why would he? Crowley was grumpy, emotionally closed off, anxious, pessimistic. Why would a being of incredible light and love like Aziraphale want to bond romantically with someone like Crowley? He felt himself growing grumpier.
“Come now. Buck up dearest”
“You don’t have to call me that. We’re safe at home in the bookshop. You can just call me ‘Crowley’ or ‘dear boy’ like you always do” Crowley grumped, feeling sorry for himself. “Dearest” meant that Crowley was in fact the thing Aziraphale held most dear. He’d never said it to Crowley before this whole fake marriage sham, and it was just another reminder to Crowley that Aziraphale was playing along with the rules to win the game. Crowley was no one’s “dearest”.
“Well, alright then Crowley. I apologize. I must have forgotten” Aziraphale’s voice had gone a bit cold, and Crowley instantly regretted his little temper tantrum. He gratefully accepted the cup of black coffee Aziraphale pushed (rather stiffly) in his direction and sipped at it for a moment without speaking.
The bell above the shop door ringing in the silence made them both jump. “That’s strange” Said Aziraphale “I swore I’d turned the Closed sign out”
“Hello sirs!” Came a crisp, businesslike female voice from the front of the shop, and they both looked at each other in minor panic.
Agent Ezelriphon. She’d come for one of her surprise visits.
“Hello! We’re back here!” Aziraphale called, frantically waving Crowley over to him as they heard the thunk-thunk of Agent Ezelriphon’s sensible heels as she made her way towards the back of the shop where they were both cowering in the kitchen. Luckily, they were shielded from view by a bank of bookshelves that stood between the door and the kitchenette. Crowley came over to stand next to Aziraphale and Aziraphale instantly pulled the demon against him and into a very open mouthed, very intense kiss. Crowley could only squeak in surprise and focus on trying to kiss back for a startling, very wet few seconds before Ezelriphon rounded the corner. At that point, Aziraphale released Crowley with a few final pecks to the lips to downshift from the full on face sucking he’d been doing a split second earlier. Crowley rocked back on his heels feeling dazed and fully awake in a way that coffee could only ever hope to accomplish. He clung to Aziraphale and gasped for breath, turning glazed eyes at the OOCDII agent who now stood looking at them, her eyebrows raised in mild surprise.
“Well good morning to you two!” She sounded a bit off balance, which Crowley supposed was the whole point of the kiss in the first place. To throw the agent a bit off her game. It would be more effective if he didn’t feel like he’d just knocked back an entire bottle of gin in one go. His senses were all on fire with the memory of Aziraphale’s soft, wet lips sliding against his own, of the angel’s slick tongue winding its way with electric sensuality inside Crowley’s open mouth. It had been a convincing kiss. Even Crowley found himself lost in daydreams that the angel might return his affections after a kiss like that , but it had the unfortunate side effect of rendering the demon almost speechless.
“Oh hello Agent Ezelriphon!” Aziraphale piped up as if he hadn’t just been snogging Crowley within an inch of his life. “And a pleasant morning to you as well. I’m sorry to be so unprofessional, but I find it hard to keep my hands off my handsome husband here. Blushing newlyweds and all that”. As if to prove his point, he pulled Crowley close to him again, giving his waist a squeeze and planting a kiss on his cheek.
“Yes, he’s insatiable he is” Crowley carefully pulled himself out of Azirphale’s grasp, stifling his desire to kiss Aziraphale again. They had company after all. And on top of that, Aziraphale was only pretending, but that didn’t stop Crowley’s strong urges to drag him by the hand back up to the angel’s bedroom and ravish him on the spot.
“Well, I’m glad to see that you’re… enjoying your honeymoon as it were.” Ezelriphon remarked with only a mild note of disbelief coloring her tone. “How coincidental that I should walk in on you snogging like love sick fools after I announced my presence in your shop.”
The smiles fell off both Crowley and Aziraphale’s faces simultaneously. Was this Agent Ezelriphon some sort of sadist? Did she enjoy taunting them? Suddenly, their convincing kiss seemed like the false distraction it was intended to be. The wind swiftly left Crowley’s proverbial sails. “What brings you here today?” Aziraphale asked pointedly. “Are we being interviewed?”
“Yes.” Ezelriphon replied simply. “Today is the first of three unannounced visits I’ll be making to the two of you before the first of the new year. I’ve brought with me a questionaire.” And with that, she reached into a small messenger bag that was slung across her shoulders and pulled out a booklet of papers. “Are you ready to begin?” she asked curtly.
“Ready when you are” Crowley drawled. He didn’t like Ezelriphon’s attempts to intimidate and condescend to them and always grew a bit sassy in the presence of authority. He knew it didn’t help matters, but he was a demon, being a touch bitchy when backed into a corner was really the least destructive thing he was capable of.
The three of them moved to Aziraphale’s sitting room with the angel and the demon sitting close together on the sofa, while the OOCDII agent sat in the armchair Aziraphale usually occupied. Crowley took one of Aziraphale’s hands in both of his own, cursing inwardly at how awkward it felt to do so in front of an observer. And in general. We really do need to practice he realized and not just because it’s fun. Because I’m not used to this and it shows...
“Now” Began Ezelriphon, opening the booklet to the first page “Lets discuss sex”
Aziraphale had a coughing fit. Crowley grew bright pink
“What??” he managed to gasp out
“You heard me Mr. Crowley. Sex. How often do the two of you engage in sexual activity?”
“Madam!” Aziraphale was the picture of an offended nobleman. His pale hand, the one that wasn’t still clasped in Crowley’s now too-tight grip had fluttered up to his throat in shock. His eyes were wide and his mouth had fallen open to gape in astonishment. It was convincing. Crowley wasn’t sure if he were faking or not to be honest. “Madam, in what way is that any of your business?” He said in a voice virtually shaking with patrician incredulity.
“Do you wish to answer the question or not Mr. Aziraphale?” Ezelriphon remained unflappable, gazing calmly back and forth between angel and demon with an unreadable look on her plain features. “Though I should warn you, you’ll be given negative marks for unanswered questions”
“You can tell him dear” Crowley urged Aziraphale. Hoping the angel would make up some realistic number of times they typically had sex. Dear Satan, I certainly hope she doesn’t want a demonstration he thought absently. Then he felt a tiny bit turned on by the prospect of performing sexual acts with Aziraphale in front of an audience. Yes. Yes… I am definitely one kinky demon . This experience was teaching him quite a bit about what he liked and what his limits were.
“Oh fine then” Aziraphale relented. “We have sex as much as any healthy pair of occult beings would. And by that, I mean at least two or three times a day”
Two or three times a day??? Crowley’s first inclination was to feel shocked at Aziraphale’s seemingly outrageous estimate, but then, when he snuck a glance at Aziraphale’s handsome face where the angel sat next to him, and felt the angel’s strong, warm hand in his own, he realized that two or three times a day would probably suit him just fine. He wondered if Aziraphale would have had that sort of sexual prowess, if he’d (firstly) actually been interested in sex with Crowley and (secondly) if he weren’t exaggerating just to try and shock Agent Ezelriphon.
The agent didn’t seem shocked at all. She calmly made a notation in her survey packet and moved on without blinking. Crowley doubted she’d react with shock if a rhinoseros had busted through the door and started singing show tunes.
“Next question. What is your partner’s favorite sexual position?”
“I like to be on top” Crowley said
“I prefer to be on the bottom” Aziraphale said… exactly at the same time. They looked at one another in surprise. Then Crowley’s face grew hot and he could see Aziraphale executing a rather obvious blush.
“Alright then” Ezelriphon made another notation. “Next question. Where, Mr. Crowley, does your partner prefer to be kissed the most?”
“Probably in the bedroom” Crowley replied, earning him a withering look from Agent Ezelriphon.
“Where. on. his. body” She was clearly irritated with Crowley, if the over pronunciation of each word in the question were any indication.
“Um… He loves to be kissed all over” Crowley said, his heart racing, his hands, regrettably starting to get damp as they clasped Aziraphale’s hand more tightly from nervous tension.
“That’s not an answer to my question, Mr. Crowley. I asked where he preferred to be kissed the most . And just so you’re aware, I can tell when either one of you is lying or when you get the answers wrong. I was trained as an Office Of Celestial and Demonic Intermarriage And Immigration agent during a four hundred year course at the University. We take extensive classes on the microexpressions and subtle vocal tells when someone is lying, or…” she added in a dark voice “when they’re simply uncertain”.
“Oh, well then, he, he prefers to be kissed on his..neck” Crowley knew he’d made a wild guess, but Azirpahale had a lovely neck, soft and pale and he had thought of kissing it many many times over the centuries. Perhaps he’d get lucky. If he’d misspoken, he had no way of knowing, because Agent Ezelriphon only made another mark in her blasted book and then looked expectantly at Aziraphale.
“And Mr. Crowley? Where does he like to be kissed most?” She asked the angel. Aziraphale glanced at Crowley and swallowed audibly before replying. “His lips” he said. Crowley turned to look at Aziraphale and their eyes locked for a moment. “He likes to be kissed on the lips” Aziraphale repeated, a touch breathlessly and his eyes wandered down to land on Crowley’s mouth as he spoke.
“Right! OK. That’s all for now” Ezelriphon flipped a few pages ahead in her booklet, her sharp, no nonsense voice breaking Crowley out of the minor trance he’d fallen under when he’d turned to look at Aziraphale. He swiftly looked back at the agent in the armchair as she snapped the booklet shut and rose from her seat.
“That’s it?” He asked. “That’s all you’re going to ask us?”
“Yes” she responded, suddenly sounding impatient. “Or would you rather I delve more deeply into your sex life?”
“No. No that’s fine” Aziraphale jumped in. “Happy we could help. We’re just surprised it was so short. May we ask how we fared? I mean we’re madly in love and very happy to be married at last, but I’m a bit curious as to how we rank.”
“Come now Mr. Aziraphale, you know I can’t tell you that” She scolded. “All I can say is that I’ll return two more times before the end of this process and that the visits, and the questions I’m likely to ask, will be quite random and hard to predict.”
“Of course they will be” snarked Crowley, earning a warning look from Aziraphale. They showed Agent Ezelriphon to the door and watched as she took a few steps onto the sidewalk, then disappeared in an angelic poof of white smoke. They both simultaneously breathed a deep sigh of relief.
“Well, that was nerve wracking” Crowley scrubbed his hands through his hair. “Care for a drink?”
“Dear Lord yes!” Aziraphale went eagerly to the cabinet in his kitchen to fetch a bottle of wine. “Though I doubt there’s enough liquor in the world to smooth over a visit from that woman .” For Aziraphale, this was the most scathing of criticism.
“Yeah. She’s really kind of a bitch” Crowley agreed.
“Crowley!” Aziraphale’s scolding tone was ameliorated greatly by the fact that he brought two wine bottles back with him from the kitchen, and the fact that he was smiling broadly at Crowely’s opinion of the rather severe Agent Ezelriphon. He plunked the bottles down on the coffee table and quickly uncorked one, pouring a generous glass for Crowley and then for himself, before collapsing onto the sofa next to the demon with a sigh.
“I suppose she’s only doing her job” He said, ever the fair minded angel. Then he knocked back half of his glass in one long gulp. “Lets get pissed” he added. “It’s been a long week and I want to get very drunk to cope with it”
“Here here!” Crowley clinked his glass with Azirpahale’s “That’s a plan I can get behind!”
Three hours later, they were truly soused. Both bottles of wine were finished and had been magically refilled twice. Crowley was leaning against Aziraphale, loudly singing the lyrics of Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” to him, insisting that Aziraphale should widen his musical tastes, and Aziraphale was trying ineffectually to interrupt him and trying to educate him on the benefits of classical music.
Crowley stopped singing for a moment to remind Aziraphale that he had been alive during the period of European history when classical music had been practically everywhere and to further remind Aziraphale that he found it dull and over dramatic and old. Which caused Aziraphale to try and stop Crowley’s singing by putting a hand over Crowley’s mouth. At which point, Crowley dissolved into giggles and licked Aziraphale’s hand in an attempt to get revenge. It worked like a charm because Aziraphale recoiled in disgust and fell onto the floor.
“You alright down there angel?” Crowley leaned drunkenly over the side of the sofa to look down on the stunned angel, lying on his back on the shop floor.
“M’fine” Aziraphale responded with a giggle. “Your tongue is so icky!”
“You ddn’t seemta mind it earlier” Crowley remarked, struggling to focus on the angel’s face without his vision doubling.
“Earlier when?” Aziraphale slowly pulled himself up to a crouch with a grunt, and now looked as if he was contemplating what to do next to get himself back onto the sofa. He stood up and went to sit down, only he got the angle wrong and ended up with his head in Crowley’s lap, his body half on the sofa and half off. Crowley reflexively wrapped his arms around Aziraphale’s upper body to keep him anchored onto the sofa and to stop him from tumbling back onto the floor.
“Earlier.” Crowley repeated, bringing bleary eyes back into focus again on Aziraphale’s face. “When you kissed me. This morning.”
“Oh… then..” Azirphale mumbled drunkenly. “Sssorry. Shouldnna done that”
“Shouldn’ta done what angel? Kissed me?” Crowley felt a small tendril of disappointment make its way through the thick layers of numbing alcohol currently coursing through his nervous system. Aziraphale’s head in his lap, his glassy, beautiful eyes looking up into Crowley’s face was highly distracting. “But it was good ” he said, grinning like a jack-o-lantern.
“Yes. Twas wasn’t it?” Aziraphale slurred. “It was… sexy ” he over pronounced the word in an adorably goofy way, and Crowley felt himself dissolve into a new fit of giggles. He bent over, still fighting the tides of laughter that wracked his abdomen and brought his mouth down close to Aziraphale’s.
They hadn’t been this drunk in probably a decade, and he felt loose and free and finally unafraid to say things he wanted to say and do things he wanted to do. In the time honored tradition of many a drunk person, he had decided to let the sober him of tomorrow deal with all the actions that drunk him wanted to take. It was cruel of Crowley to subject sober him to such a litany of embarrassing issues. Especially so early in the morning, and with a hangover to boot, but drunk Crowley had never been very considerate of sober Crowley’s feelings and needs. Drunk Crowley was something of a twat.
“Would you like to kiss some more?” drunk Crowley asked Aziraphale, his eyes locked onto Azirphale’s lips that were soft and slightly parted and temptingly, only a few short centimeters away from his own. “I mean.. For the sake of practicing.” he added. Even in this state, he knew better than to ask to kiss Aziraphale for the simple reason of wanting to.
“Yes. I would” replied Aziraphale, eyes also locked onto Crowley’s lips. “We should definitely practice more”. They hesitated for a split second, then Crowley closed the distance between their mouths and kissed the angel. It was a sloppy kiss. A drunken, awkward, sloppy kiss, with not a small amount of clashing teeth and awkward nose placement, but it escalated swiftly to a full on snog session. Crowley leaning forward over Aziraphale tipped the scales of their precarious balance on the sofa, and they both fell unceremoniously to the floor between the sofa and the coffee table, Crowely on top of Aziraphale, arms wrapped around each other, mouths open and moving wetly.
Crowley broke off to look down blearily into Aziraphale’s eyes “You were right” he said, breathlessly
“About what?” Aziraphale asked before effectively stopping Crowley’s response by pulling him down into another kiss.
Crowley yanked himself away again, with effort “I really do like to be kissed on the lips” he slurred thickly.
“Oh good!” Aziraphale’s smile was no less beautiful for all that it was quite watery. “I’m happy to oblige my dear” and he lifted his head up and kissed Crowley again, his tongue doing very interesting things inside Crowley’s mouth.
Crowley pulled himself away from Aziraphale’s lips to turn his attention to the side of Aziraphale’s neck, letting his lips slide clumsily across the soft, sweet smelling skin visible above Aziraphale’s starched collar. “Was I right as well?” he asked, speaking muzzily into the skin of Aziraphale’s pale throat, working his way around to the front, the area over Aziraphale’s ridiculous and semi-permanent bow tie. “Do you like having your neck kissed?”
“Oh god yes. Funny that you managed to guess correctly. I know I certainly nevr tole you bout that”
“It’s cuz your neck looks so kisssable” Crowley responded, his busy lips pulling a small moan from Aziraphale’s mouth. The angel had brought his hands up and buried his fingers in Crowley’s hair, clenching fistfuls of it in a way that Crowley found (surprisingly) caused tingling to occur in an entirely different area of his body. His head was spinning with wine and his senses were filled with the feel and taste and smell of Aziraphale.
“Crowley. Crowley” Aziraphale gasped out “Crowley. I think we should..” He was clearly having trouble speaking, and Crowley grinned wickedly against the skin of his neck. He’d done this. He’d made it hard for Aziraphale to speak full sentences. He felt proud of himself.
“We should. We should sober up a bit. Don’t you think?” Aziraphale finally managed to gasp out.
Crowley groaned in disappointment. “Noooo” he whined, pulling back to look down at Aziraphale, a drunken pout on his face. “Don’t wanna” and then he leaned in for another kiss. Aziraphale seemed to happily oblige him, but soon, he was breaking the kiss again to repeat himself.
“We should. It’s only right. Don’t wanna go much farther in the state I’m in”
“But..” Crowley thought he might cry. “But if I sober up, we’ll have to stop” he mumbled.
“Why is that Crowley?”
“Well.. well because I’d never do this with you if I were sober” Crowley responded. In immediate retrospect, he realized that he should have added the words “I’d never be brave enough to do this with you sober”, but that isn’t what he said.
Aziraphale stiffened beneath him, pushing Crowley off of him unceremoniously and sitting up. Crowley fell back against the bottom edge of the sofa and regarded Aziraphale with confused eyes as the angel concentrated briefly and grew obviously less soused and more clear eyed. “I’m sorry you feel that way Crowley”, his voice was now that of a mostly sober person.
“No.. no. That’s not what I meant.” Crowley swiftly concentrated on pushing the alcohol out of his own system so that he wouldn’t make anymore thoughtless comments. “I meant that.. I meant that… this is all just a game anyway isn’t it? We’re just practicing aren’t we? You don’t mean this do you?” Unspoken were the words tell me you really do mean this.
“No Crowley.” the angel’s words cut through Crowley’s heart like a blade. “No, of course not. It’s just make believe. Like you said” His voice was polite but distant. Not cold, but definitely not the honeyed, soft tones of a few moments ago, when he’d lain in Crowley’s arms, kissing him with enthusiasm. Crowley knew that he’d done something to ruin the moment, implied something unflattering, but it had been a tumbled up day, and he’d been extremely drunk when he’d said whatever he’d said and he wasn’t sure how to get the moment back on track.
Aziraphale was awkwardly getting to his feet, dusting himself off and bending to pick up their wine glasses so he could carry them to the sink. He was walking away. Crowley felt bereft and confused. He pulled himself up onto the sofa and put his head in his hands. How had things gone so wrong so quickly?
Aziraphale returned to say, in a stiff voice “I think I’d like my room to myself tonight Crowley. If you wouldn’t mind sleeping down here, I’d only keep you up with reading all night”
“Angel.. I… “ Crowley tried to say something to close the rift he felt opening between them. “I’m sorry”
“You have nothing to be sorry for dearest. I..mean…” he closed his eyes momentarily “I mean Crowley. Nothing at all. I simply need a little quiet time to read by myself. I’ll see you tomorrow morning.” And because he was a polite angel, who could never not be a thoughtful host, he added “tonight was lovely. Thank you”. And with that, he walked up the stairs to his room, leaving a sad and confused demon alone on the couch.
Thank you all for your lovely comments! I live for them! Yes, I know, Crowley is an idiot. Aziraphale is an idiot. They'll eventually become enlightened, but not yet!
I promise not to torture everyone for too much longer. But hey, I don't call myself "slow burn Sally" for nothin!
Crowley was in no mood to sleep. He decided it was high time he went back to his flat to visit his plants and spend some time by himself. He strode purposefully out to the Bentley and drove over to his flat at a rate of speed that might have gotten him locked up if he hadn’t placed several protective spells over his car decades ago that prevented such things. He still occasionally got parking tickets, which he simply incinerated, banishing them to Hell where they belonged.
He screeched to a halt outside his flat and took the lift up, muttering distractedly to himself. He knew he’d hurt Aziraphale’s feelings somehow. What had it been? All he’d done was reiterate what he already knew. That Aziraphale saw this as just an act, as a means to an end. Perhaps… just maybe… Aziraphale shared his feelings? And he’d been insulted at Crowley calling it an act? But that didn’t make sense. The angel was so businesslike about the whole thing. Aside from a little awkward stiffness, he displayed no visible outward signs of nervousness or (Satan forbid) desire. Not only that, but for the past six millennia the angel had been polite, sweet, kind, friendly. Never had Crowley picked up on even a hint of sexual tension or romantic longing from his companion.
And now things were all mixed up. Now they kissed. Kissing was a thing they did now. He’d kissed Aziraphale a lot in the past few days, had held his hand and said things to the angel that he’d wanted to say for longer than he could accurately remember. And still, the angel smiled politely and forged ahead with their “practicing” as if were a job… as if he were shelving books or looking for a new restaurant to visit. Calm as you please.
Meanwhile, Crowley was being slowly pulled apart with desire and confusion and a roller coaster of different emotions that left him alternately reeling between hope and anxiety. He mentally pictured throttling Agent Ezelriphon, then banished his vengeful fantasy. The stupid angel was only doing her job. She was just very, very, infuriatingly good at her job.
He entered his flat and stalked over to his greenhouse room to yell at his plants for a while
“Look at you! I leave you alone for a few days and you’ve all gone from verdant to sickly! How dare you call yourselves plants!”
After fifteen minutes or so of yelling, interspersed with some aggressive misting, he went to his room and collapsed onto his bed.
The thought of Aziraphale being truly hurt by something he’d said was intolerable. Yes, he mocked the angel mercilessly sometimes, but it was always about things he knew Aziraphale would laugh off, or tut and huff over without any real insult taken. It was a game they’d played for a long, long time. But to have actually hurt the angel’s feelings?
Crowley rolled over and hugged himself, squeezing his eyes shut. Perhaps a nap would help? Eventually, he stopped gnashing his teeth and rolling around and slowly drifted off to sleep.
He woke up with a start to the sound of his phone, his ancient phone from 1992 ringing in the other room. He only kept the thing because Aziraphale had grown used to calling that number and it was very hard to break the angel out of a habit involving a piece of technology, once he’d gotten used to it. Getting Aziraphale from the electric typewriter to using a laptop had been a process involving months of careful instruction, followed by years of repeated reminders.
He stumbled out of bed and rushed to the other room, just in time to hear the answerphone kick in and Aziraphale’s voice ring out from the machine’s tinny thirty year old speakers.
“Darling! Dearest husband! Agent Ezelriphon is back. I know you said you’d be running some errands this morning but- “
Crowley squeaked in alarm and grabbed the receiver. “Yes angel! I’m here! I’ll be right over”
The relief in Aziraphale’s tone was palpable “Do hurry my love. We don’t want to keep Agent Ezelriphon waiting.”
“There in two shakes!” Crowley slammed the phone down, made sure he was presentable and snapped his fingers. In an instant, he was outside the bookshop. He snapped his fingers again, and a large paper bag appeared in his hands. Hadn’t Aziraphale said that he’d been off running errands? The bag contained some groceries, hurriedly pulled into existence with a demonic spell and hopefully believable. He balanced the bag against his hip and opened the shop door, entering and rushing to the back. He found Aziraphale, standing nervously next to the ever calm, ever snooty OOCDII agent in the sitting room, waiting for him.
“Back so soon?” he sauntered over to them as if he didn’t have a care in the world, while on the inside, he was a roiling mess.
“Yes Mr. Crowley. Unannounced visits aren’t very effective if they’re predictable are they?”
Mentally suppressing the urge to fling a ball of Hellfire directly into the smug agent’s face, Crowley sashayed his way over to Aziraphale and greeted him. “Hello darling” then kissed him on the mouth, letting the kiss linger for just a second. “I got the pastries you like so much. I’ll just put them in the kitchen shall I?” my, this *does* get easier with practice doesn’t it?
“Yes dear. Please do” Aziraphale looked extremely relieved and a bit flushed. Crowely went to the kitchen and dropped the bag onto the small counter between the sink and the oven and came back to the sitting room, preparing to do battle.
“What would you like to know this time?” he asked, feeling himself getting salty and not caring “How many times a week we use the loo?” He smiled his most charming smile at Ezelriphon, the kind of smile that made humans of all genders fall all over themselves to get to know him better. She just gave him a small, humorless smirk back.
“No Mr. Crowley. Nothing as mundane as that. Today’s interview will be about something else.”
“Well by all means then” Crowley waved her into the sitting area with aplomb. Aziraphale pointedly did not offer a cup of tea.
Crowley sat down next to Aziraphale and the two of them waited for whatever ridiculous, embarrassing thing Ezelriphon would come up with.
She would not disappoint them.
“Mr. Aziraphale, if you would, please tell me when you first knew you were in love with Mr. Crowley” Her voice was incongruously stern and businesslike. She stared at Aziraphale over the top of her very sensible wire rimmed spectacles and waited.
Crowley turned to look at Aziraphale with interest. “Yes dearest” He prompted, watching as Aziraphale slowly turned pink, watched his adams apple bob noticeably with several rapid swallows. “That’s a lovely story. I just adore hearing you tell it”
He was being cruel, but also, this was bound to be hilarious. He’d started growing sick and tired of Ezelriphon’s smug attitude, her surety that they were lying, her subtle disrespect. He wasn’t in the mood to jump through hoops today. And beyond that, he was irritated with how calm and measured Aziraphale had been about this whole situation. Crowley was a shaking mess with worrying that they wouldn’t pass the investigation, that they’d be sent back to their head offices, and yet Aziraphale stayed cool as a cucumber. He picked up Aziraphale’s hand and interlaced their fingers together as he waited patiently for whatever story Aziraphale was about to make up.
“Oh… well… that’s rather difficult to answer accurately” he stammered out, and Crowley grinned. This ought to be good he thought, a touch uncharitably as he watched Aziraphale turn an even deeper shade of pink.
“That’s alright Mr. Aziraphale. Simply do your best to explain it to me in the simplest terms you can manage” Crowley supposed Ezelriphon thought she was being accommodating.
“Well, if pressed, I would have to say that I probably first fell in love with him roughly six thousand years ago.”
OK, not what I expected… Crowley had been sure Aziraphale was about to detail some adorable, made up tale about how they touched hands over a bucket of popcorn a decade or so ago and “ that’s when I just *knew*” .. That type of situation. This was different though.
“You see, I saw him up on that wall of the garden, back when it all began, when I was first stationed here on earth. He slithered up next to me, just to say hello, and we had a nice chat” Crowley, through a haze of surprise and confusion, noted that Aziraphale didn’t mention the blasphemous, unorthodox subject of their first conversation.
“He looked so very handsome” Aziraphale continued, doing a good job of sounding genuine. He turned to look at Crowley with shining eyes as he went on “So dashing. So mysterious. And he wasn’t a nasty, ugly demon like so many of his brethren. He was different. Very appealing looking. Beautiful hair he had. And those eyes . To this day, those eyes pierce me through the soul whenever he takes off his blasted shades”.
“Very well.” Ezelriphon cut in. “So you fell in love with him back in eden then?” She moved to mark something in her questionaire booklet, but Aziraphale cut her off.
“No.” He said
“No?” Ezilraphon said
“No. You asked me when I first knew that I was in love with Crowley. I believe back there on the wall of Eden was when I first fell in love with him, but I didn’t actually know it at the time”
Ezelriphon looked confused, but probably not nearly as confused as Crowley felt. He was staring at Aziraphale with his mouth hanging slightly open. How detailed and specific was the angel going to get with this made up meet-cute story of his? He certainly didn’t need to go into this much detail.
“When I actually knew I was in love with him was much much later” Aziraphale continued. “In 1941 actually.”
Crowley swallowed. He felt his face grow hot and his heart start to pound in his ears. Had the angel found out how Crowley felt? Was he teasing him? How could he have known how special that night was to Crowley? How saving Aziraphale’s books and seeing that sweet look of gratitude and affection on Aziraphale’s face had warmed Crowley’s heart for so many years afterwards.
“You see, he saved a bag of my most cherished books of prophecy from the bombing of a church” Aziraphale continued, his voice soft and reverent. He was looking at Ezelriphon now as he spoke. “I was so distraught when I thought I’d lost my books, and he just sauntered over to me, and all of a sudden, they were there in his hand, and he simply handed them to me. Not a singe on them.”
He turned now, still telling the story to the OOCDII agent, but looking at Crowley with an unreadable, soft expression on his face “It was then that I realized that he’d been saving me, and helping me, and protecting me for thousands of years. This handsome demon who was supposed to be my worst enemy, he was… well he was more than that.
It was then that I realized I was completely and utterly in love with him” Aziraphale finished, his eyes locked with Crowley’s, his voice grown quiet and serious. Crowley was struck speechless. What was the angel doing? Trying to discorporate him? What was up with that heartfelt, genuine sounding story? But of course, the angel loved books, and writing and reading. He’d be very good at spinning elaborate tales about his feelings. Crowley was secretly glad Azirpahale had been asked first. Crowley would have surely said something along the lines of “You see Agent Ezelriphon, we both reached for the popcorn and our hands touched… and well, that’s all she wrote!”
“My, that was quite romantic” Ezelriphon actually sounded a little genuinely impressed, which made Crowley proud of his angel. Only his best friend could spin a tale so seductive and charming as to impress the most cold hearted and dull people Crowley had ever had the misfortune of knowing.
His pride and affection didn’t last long however, because soon, Ezelriphon had turned her intent focus on Crowley. “And you Mr. Crowley?” She asked, her eyebrow raised. “When was it that you first knew you were in love with Mr. Aziraphale” She sat, pen poised above the page in her questionaire, waiting for Crowley to respond.
Aziraphale turned towards him as well with interest. No pressure Crowley thought sarcastically
“Oh, my story is a lot less dramatic” He said, scrubbing a hand through his hair and looking down at his pointy, black shoes, deciding to simply tell the truth. Why not? “I met him up on the wall of Eden, and from the minute he opened his mouth, I knew I was a gonner. Absolutely besotted, right from the start.” He dared to look up at Aziraphale and saw a small, sad smile playing about the angel’s lips, his eyes not quite rising to meet Crowley’s, had settled somewhere in the general area of the demon’s chin.
“Alright! Simple enough. Next question” Ezelriphon had moved on. Crowley inwardly prepared for what she could possibly come up with next.
“Mr. Crowley” She said “What is Mr. Aziraphale’s favorite thing?”
Crowley grinned. “That’s easy.” he said “books. Or do you need your prescription on those spectacles renewed?”
Ezelriphon frowned as she wrote in her booklet, and Crowley was struck with a sudden fear that he could have answered incorrectly. What could Aziraphale possibly love more than books? There were always pastries and cakes, and food in general, but he was fairly certain that the angel would give them all up in favor of his silly first editions.
“Mr. Aziraphale. Same question. What is Mr. Crowley’s favorite thing?”
Oh, this should be good
“Warmth” replied Aziraphale without thinking twice. “He’ll do anything to be warm. Lying in the sun, diving under a pile of blankets…” and here he cast a shy look in Crowley’s direction “cuddling up to me in bed. He loves heat. Comes of being a serpent you see”
Crowley would have said, if pressed, that Aziraphale was his favorite thing in the world, but heat did come in a close second, followed by causing mischief, wine and small dogs that made silly little yipping noises. They were always endlessly charming to their owners and irritating to everyone else, which made Crowley unaccountably happy for some reason.
And here, Ezelriphon frowned again. As if Aziraphale had also misstepped. She’s probably just messing with our heads thought Crowley.
“Next question” She snapped irritably. Both angel and demon regarded her with apprehension as she flipped ahead a few pages in the booklet, still frowning slightly.
“Mr. Crowley. What is Mr. Aziraphale’s worst fear?” She asked
Crowley was taken aback for a moment, before the answer came to him, as clear as day. “Armageddon” He said simply. “The destruction of the human world. You don’t have to ask him the same question because he knows its my worst fear too”
“You’re wrong dearest” Aziraphale responded, looking down at his own hands where they were clutched together in his lap. His voice gone soft and quiet.
“Why? What’s your worst fear then?” Asked Crowley, incredulously
“Losing you.” Aziraphale said simply. “I would miss earth dearly my darling, but not half as much as I would miss you were I to never see you again” He looked up at Crowley then and the demon reeled back a little at the sadness in the angel’s eyes.
“Aziraphale” he said, his voice hushed, his mind trying and failing to fit this statement into the greater framework of their sham marriage. He never said the angel’s full name, but it had fallen from his lips without him thinking.
Neither spoke for a few seconds, staring at each other, the demon in confusion, the angel, with that sad look still on his face.
“Well, wasn’t that touching” Ezelriphon (of course) broke the mood by butting in again. “Those are all of my questions for today. I’ll visit one more time between now and New Year’s Day for one last interview.” She stood, smoothing down her gray skirt and unremarkable cardigan and bidding them a good day, she marched out the door.
A deep silence descended in her wake. Crowley was still looking at Aziraphale, his mouth gaping open a little in surprise. Aziraphale had dropped his sad eyes to his lap again.
“Angel” Crowley broke the silence, reaching out, as if to touch Aziraphale’s shoulder.
“I’d like some tea!” Aziraphale said, a little too brightly, rising from his place beside Crowley on the sofa to stand awkwardly, tugging on his waistcoat. “Would you like some tea dear?” He very carefully didn’t look at Crowley as he walked into the kitchen to put the kettle on. Crowley got up and followed him.
“Hey angel” he said softly, walking up behind Aziraphale where he was busying himself with filling the kettle with water. “Did you mean that? Are you really that afraid to lose me?”
Aziraphale, still facing away from him, plunked the now full kettle down onto the burner of the stove and opened a cabinet to look for some tea. “Would you like that black current tea we had the other day dear? Or would you prefer the green tea from yesterday?” his voice sounded choked with emotion. Crowley was concerned and confused.
“Angel. Angel, hey.” he gently gripped Aziraphale by the shoulder and turned the angel around to face him. Aziraphale turned and Crowley was shocked to see tears in his eyes. “Hey now! What’s all this?” he asked, genuinely concerned. “Why are you crying?”
“Because Crowley. Because… if we don’t do a very good job of making this marriage believable, she’ll send us back to those awful places, and I really won’t be able to see you again” Aziraphale said all of this in a rush while looking fixedly at Crowley’s chest, avoiding his gaze. Tears welled up in his eyes and fell down his soft cheeks, leaving salty trails in their wake. Crowley couldn’t stand the sight. He reached out and framed the angel’s face with his hands, using his thumbs to gently wipe the tears from his cheeks.
“Come now angel. Aren’t you the one who’s the optimist? Why so glum? You know we’ll make this work. We’re a great team! We’re…. “ here he paused, never having said this to an Aziraphale who was alive and well and not a discorporated vision, hovering in the chair of a bar table while Crowley was drunk out of his mind. “We’re.. Best friends aren’t we?”
Aziraphale nodded, finally letting his eyes lift to meet Crowley’s. “Yes… best friends” he said it in a voice, still thick with sadness. Without thinking twice, Crowley pulled him into an embrace, wrapping his arms around the angel and pulling him close to his chest. He let out a long sigh as he did so. It felt so incredibly good, so incredibly right to hold Aziraphale in his arms this way. He felt and heard the angel let out a shuddering breath and felt him return the embrace and they simply stood there, Crowley rocking Aziraphale back and forth in his arms for a long moment.
They were interrupted by the slow, rising scream of the tea kettle. Aziraphale pulled back a bit and gave Crowley a sweet, chaste kiss on the cheek. “Thank you dearest. I think I needed that” he said, as he gently disengaged from Crowley’s embrace and went to turn off the flames under the kettle.
Crowley let him go. Smiling a little at the knowledge that he could give some small comfort to the angel.
They spent the rest of the day in the bookshop, chatting, reminiscing about fun times from their long history. Crowley curled up under a blanket, Aziraphale, for once, next to him, rather than in the armchair, sitting close enough so that Crowley could soak up some of his heat.
Eventually, Crowley started to doze and Aziraphale encouraged him with a gentle pull to lay with his head in Azirphale’s lap. Crowley drifted off to sleep with Aziraphale’s fingers carding gently through his hair.
This will be the second to last chapter. Last chapter will probably drop tomorrow night? I'm a fast, obsessive writer, so people don't usually have to wait long for updates. Thanks to everyone who's hung in there with me! Please enjoy some fluffy smut :D
Over the course of the next few days, they dove wholeheartedly into their marriage act, expecting the Ookdee agents to be watching extra closely, expecting Ezelriphon’s last visit at any moment. Christmas was fast approaching, it was already the 20th. Red and green and white decorations and twinkling lights were everywhere, and there were tons of married people things to do out in the city of London. They went ice skating at a local rink, and Aziraphale skated circles around Crowley while he trembled and slipped and tried valiantly not to fall down (but still did several times. Demons are not traditionally comfortable with ice). It gave him a great excuse to cling to Aziraphale as the angel, apparently a natural on skates, glided them both smoothly around in large, lazy circles. The whole experience was straight out of the most sugary sweet, predictable romantic comedy, but Crowley didn’t mind. Being stupidly romantic was what the Ookdee agents wanted wasn’t it?
They went out to dinner a few more times as well, always being sure to add in lots of hand holding and gazing at each other across the table. Crowley slowly started to forget that it was an act. He would have forgotten completely had it not been for the lack of kissing. Ever since his one last time he’d pecked Aziraphale quickly on the lips in front of Ezelriphon over a week ago, they had refrained from kissing. It seemed an unspoken rule that had cropped up between them. Maybe Aziraphale was still hurt by Crowley’s comment. Maybe he wanted to put some distance between them, but whatever the reason, Crowley felt the boundary being put up and respected it.
Despite the unspoken no-kissing rule, he had to admit he was having a lovely time. They went to museums and held hands while walking around admiring the art. They went to the aquarium and laughed at the penguins and the otters until Crowley started using demonic spells to shove them into the water when they weren’t expecting it, which earned a disapproving glare from Aziraphale. They took long walks in the park and talked for hours. It was as if they’d only needed a good excuse to spend every waking moment together. They’d spent so many centuries avoiding this kind of intimacy for fear of harsh punishment, that the necessity of being close and intimate felt suddenly freeing. And Aziraphale openly admitting how anguished he was at the thought of losing Crowley went a long way to helping Crowley relax into the act.
And he knew, on his side, that it wasn’t an act. He knew he was madly in love with the angel and that he really had been since the very beginning.
It wasn’t always wonderful. Sometimes Crowley got irritable and went home to yell at his plants and sleep in his own bed. Sometimes Aziraphale grew snappish and retreated to his bedroom. But outside of those few pockets of irritability, (or perhaps because of them) it was starting to feel like a real marriage.
Even though they didn’t kiss, Crowley had made a habit of napping with his head in Aziraphale’s lap in the afternoons that they stayed home, while Aziraphale ran his fingers gently through Crowley’s hair and read a book. They slept together in Aziraphale’s bed… or rather, Crowley slept while Aziraphale read. In his sleep, the demon always ended up winding himself around the angel, his sleeping serpent brain urging him toward the angel’s incredible heat like a flowering weed turns towards the sun. He woke each morning that they shared a bed with his arms and legs wrapped around the angel, who sat up on a few pillows, book still in his hand, his pair of pointless little spectacles perched on his nose.
On the first few mornings, Crowley had burned with embarrassment that his sleeping body and unconscious mind had betrayed him so obviously. He would apologize and pull away from Aziraphale, but the angel was quick to reassure him that it was alright. “Angels are very warm dearest. It’s only natural that a chilly old serpent like yourself would want to get closer. It’s no bother, really”
Crowley noticed that Aziraphale had reverted to calling him “dearest” again, and was beyond pleased. He never brought it up, not wanting to scare the angel off again.
Before they knew it, it was Christmas Eve. Aziraphale, the Christmas obsessed fool that he was, got them a little tree for the sitting room of the bookshop and they sat with wine and talked well into the night, remembering Christmases past…And Crowley’s stories of spending time with the man himself. They talked of the days before Christ’s birth when they’d been out in the desserts of Egypt together. Aziraphale remarked on how pretty Crowley’s eyes had been when lined with chole. Crowley had poked fun of the way Aziraphale had refused to eat blackened lizard on a stick when offered it by one of the locals.
Crowley woke the next morning, Christmas day, wrapped around Aziraphale as usual, but this time, there was a significant difference.
This morning, he had a raging erection.
He supposed his body had grown comfortable enough with being close to Aziraphale that nature had kicked in at last. Carefully keeping his hips from pressing himself against the angel’s side like he was aching to do, he swiftly rolled away and curled himself into a ball, silently willing the offending member to soften. Wishing didn’t work.
“Are you quite alright dearest? I hope you’re not ill.”
“No...no angel. I’m fine. I just need a minute” Crowley hissed through gritted teeth, finally resorting to subtly snapping his erection away with a demonic spell. He’d have to start wearing extra thick pajama bottoms to bed if this was what his body was going to be doing from now on.
They wandered downstairs and opened their gifts, cups of coffee in their hands. Crowley had gotten Aziraphale a book of saucy limericks from the 15th century. Aziraphale had gotten Crowley a new silk shirt, in a fetching deep blue color that went very well with his copper hair. They spent the morning lazing about the shop. Aziraphale finding a home for his new book (which he told Crowley that he loved) and doing some much needed organizing among the many shelves. Aziraphale had closed up shop so that no customers would irritate them with their incessant need to buy books. Crowley dozed on the couch. It was all in all a lovely day.
The week between Christmas and New Years took on a fated feeling. They knew Ezelriphon could make her last visit for their final interview any moment, and with that visit, would come the possibility that they would be ripped apart forever, and quite possibly executed by their vengeful ex employers. Crowley started touching Aziraphale more often. Aziraphale welcomed the touch and initiated a lot of affectionate touch of his own. Still no kissing. Which was fine. Crowley didn’t want to ruin their last few days together if they didn’t pass the investigation. He didn’t know how Aziraphale felt, but he himself wanted to enjoy every moment with the angel before the end.
And still, New Year’s eve came with no sign from the OOCDII agent. Crowley had a surprise for Aziraphale. One he hoped he’d enjoy, so early on the evening of New Year’s eve, he took them to the Ritz. Aziraphale ordered his usual large array of dishes, fish and beef and delicate little hors de’orves. He offered Crowley a few forkfulls which the demon gladly accepted, while he nursed his red wine and gazed lovingly at Aziraphale from behind the safety of his dark glasses. He wanted to remember every move Aziraphale’s face made, every little gasp and moan of delight as the angel tried some new dish, ever warm chuckle at something silly Crowley said. All of this, their connection to each other and to earth could end at any minute, but rather than feeling sad or fearful, Crowley let the shortness of their time lend a sort of fated beauty to the evening.
After Aziraphale finished his last bite of lemon cake and had patted his lips daintily with a napkin (as if he hadn’t just eaten enough food for four humans), Crowley cleared his throat.
“Angel.” He said, conscious that he could speak his true heart and mind now that they were out in public..it would only serve them well to let anyone watching witness what he was about to say. He was struck suddenly by the irony of feeling safe to speak his true heart to the angel in public, while being afraid to do it in private.
“We’re legally married” he began, “but… I never got the chance to officially propose”
Aziraphale had paused with his wine glass halfway to his lips, staring at Crowley with an odd look on his face.
Crowley fished around in the pockets of his black dinner jacket and pulled out a small, velvet box. He pried it open and inside, on a small velvet pillow, lay two rings. Simple gold rings. He took one and slipped it onto his own finger, then looked up expectantly at Aziraphale, who’s eyes had gone wide.
“Would you do me the honor of marrying me angel? I’ve loved you for six thousand years and I’d very much enjoy loving you for six thousand more if you’ll let me”
“Oh Crowley!” Aziraphale’s eyes were shining and his face was suffused with joy. “Of course I would!” Crowley grinned at him and took his hand, slipping the second ring onto Aziraphale’s ring finger. “Oh its simply lovely dearest. Thank you!” He gushed.
Aziraphale rose to his feet and grabbed Crowley by the hand, pulling him up as well, and before Crowley could truly react, Aziraphale had pulled him into a kiss. Crowley felt like his heart was exploding in his chest as the angel’s soft lips collided with his own. They wrapped one another in a tight embrace, and he distantly heard the dining room explode into applause.
He pulled back after a few blissful moments to look into Aziraphale’s large hazel eyes and was surprised to see happy tears. Were those tears real? The certainly looked real. Aziraphale pulled away and sat down again, blushing furiously and grinning at Crowley like a fool. He looked… well… he looked like someone in love. Crowley felt hope spring inside him and tried to ignore the part of his brain that told him he was being a fool.
After they had paid the bill, they drove home in silence. That evening, there was a tension between them that hadn’t been there before. Aziraphale’s hands shook slightly as he passed Crowley his wine glass. Crowley felt the need to keep his distance as they passed in the kitchen. Before too long, Crowley felt drowsy and said he was headed up to bed and Aziraphale said he’d join him. Crowley felt a thrill of anticipation. Of what? He wasn’t sure yet.
They climbed into bed, but this time, instead of picking up one of the many books Aziraphale had piled by the bedside table, Aziraphale turned in bed until he was facing Crowley. “Crowley dearest” he began, his voice uncertain. “As...as I’m sure you’re aware, this might possibly be the last night we have together… on earth” he said haltingly.
“Yeah angel. Yeah. Of course” Crowley replied, wondering what Aziraphale was getting at.
“I’ve… um… Golly but this is difficult to say” Aziraphale paused, biting his lip and looking worried, his brow furrowed.
“What it is angel?”
“Well… I’ve never.. Made love to anyone before” Aziraphale said quietly. “And… if tonight is our last night of freedom, and if that horrid agent will be back tomorrow, I thought perhaps, we could.. We could give it a try… together.”
Crowley could hardly believe his ears. “Um” he said, his face burning. “Um” he repeated, like an idiot. His brain had ceased to function.
“It would be practice Crowley. Just practicing like we’ve been doing. It would certainly go a long way towards making us seem more genuinely married don’t you think? And on top of all that, If we don’t pass the inspection, I don’t relish the thought of being permanently discorporated having never experienced this act that humans seem to think is the most important thing in the world.” His words were spilling out in a rush.
All of these validations were pointless to Crowley of course. The angel was asking him to do something he’d longed to do for millennia. A thing he’d thought about countless times, often while touching himself to help make it feel more realistic. He did not at all need to be encouraged or convinced.
“Well sure angel” he managed to choke out “Sure. That would be… very informative. We...we might as well.”
“Oh good!” Aziraphale beamed at him. “Erm… how do we start?” he asked, blushing prettily.
“Leave that up to me” Crowley growled as he gathered Aziraphale into his arms and pressed their lips together. The kiss deepened immediately into a very passionate one and he pulled the angel even tighter against him. He could feel the Aziraphale’s hardness, his need, pressing against Crowley through the thin fabric of their night clothes and he groaned into the kiss, loving the feel of Aziraphale (or at least Aziraphale’s body) wanting this as much as he did. He let his hand roam across the angel’s soft, broad back and down to his hips and round, firm arse and grabbed a generous handful, giving his buttock a tight squeeze. Aziraphale moaned into his mouth and thrust himself against Crowley, causing the demon to moan appreciatively in response.
Reaching a hand up into Aziraphale’s hair to clench a fistful of the soft, wild tresses he’d longed to touch for centuries, he rolled himself on top of the angel and ground them together with a slow, deliberate roll of his hips. He heard Aziraphale make a new noise, one he’d never heard before, a high pitched whine that ended in a low grunt. He pulled back slightly to look down into the angel’s dilated eyes “You alright?” he asked “Is this good?”
“Oh yes Crowley. Yes. This is quite good.” Aziraphale’s face was flushed and glowing, his lips parted and wet with Crowley’s kisses.
“Dear Satan, you’re so beautiful” Crowley breathed before he bent again to capture the angel’s lips in another kiss.
After a few more minutes spent with their lips and tongues sliding together in a way that made Crowley’s whole body burn with tingling desire, he felt Aziraphale gently push him away to gasp softly into the space between their mouths. “Would you undress me please?”
Crowley did not need to be asked twice. He sat up atop Azirpahale’s hips, which pushed them together in a whole new angle that made him moan in surprised pleasure, and then began swiftly unbuttoning Aziraphale’s pajama top with trembling fingers.
“Crowley darling. I want to thank you for doing this with me” Aziraphale, unable to stop chatting apparently, even while being made love to, continued in a breathless voice “I… I’ve actually wanted to do this with you for quite a long time.. And… there seemed to be no better occasion to make my desires known so..”
“Yeah angel. I want this too. More than you can even comprehend. Please shush up now and let me get on with it”. Crowley had successfully unbuttoned Aziraphale’s shirt and then unceremoniously ripped his own from his shoulders. “Let me know though if I go too fast for you, or if anything isn’t quite right ok?” he added. Aziraphale nodded swiftly, then groaned deep in his throat as Crowley ran his hands up the angel’s soft chest and leaned down again to press their naked upper bodies together.
They kissed for a while longer, until Crowley was giving desperate little thrusts with his pelvis and Aziraphale was pulling them more tightly together with hot hands on Crowley’s hips. The angel was making continuous noises, soft moans and sharp little mewling noises and the sound of it was driving Crowley out of his mind with desire. Rather than deal with the awkwardness of getting Aziraphale’s pajama bottoms off or slithering out of his own black boxer briefs, he simply snapped his fingers and they were both instantly nude.
The feel of Aziraphale, soft and naked beneath him almost made him orgasm on the spot, but he took a deep breath and stilled his movements until he could regain control. He rolled to the side and reaching down between them, he grasped the angel at the root, causing Aziraphale to gasp in surprised pleasure. He then took the angel’s hand and guided it to his own throbbing cock, showing him how to grip him just right. He looked into Aziraphale’s glowing, passion drunk eyes “Pull on me, gently, with your hand” he instructed, his voice gruff with need.
Aziraphale gave a tentative pull and Crowley’s eyes rolled back into his head at the feel of it. “Oh Sssatan. Yesss angel. Do that again”
Soon, they set up a slow rhythm, stroking each other, gasping at the feel of it. Crowley looked down at what Aziraphale’s was doing to him, and the sight of the angel’s hand, wrapped around him and pumping slowly almost did him in again. He loved the feel of the angel’s cock, beautiful and thick and hot in his own hand.
And he learned some things. He learned that Aziraphale liked to beg when he got really sexually excited. The angel kept up a semi-constant litany of soft, begging pleas as Crowley worked him slowly, saying Please Crowley. Please. Please. Yes. Please. Oh dear god please. Please.
Crowley learned that Aziraphale truly did like to be kissed on the neck, because when Crowley’s lips wandered to suck a love bite into that soft, yielding flesh, he could feel the angel’s cock twitch in response where he gripped it in his eager hand and could hear Aziraphale cry out, his voice rough with need. He learned that he himself liked to use a lot of profanity and dirty talk during sex as it spilled out of his mouth in response to the intense pleasure caused by Aziraphale’s soft hand on him. Oh fuck angel. Oh fuck. Oh yes. You’re working me so fucking good. You’re going to make me come so hard angel, oh fuuuck.
It wasn’t long before Crowley felt himself getting too close to pull back again. He gasped out “I’m going to come now”. Aziraphale nodded eagerly, his eyes full of something hungry and heated. Crowley captured the angel’s mouth in a desperate kiss as he felt himself explode in pleasure. Aziraphale came seconds later, calling out Crowley’s name against his lips as the movement of their hands became suddenly much slicker.
Crowley barely had the presence of mind to snap away the sweet smelling, swiftly cooling mess between them before he fell against Aziraphale and felt himself instantly wrapped up in a warm pair of arms. The heat of Aziraphale’s body, the feeling of his heartbeat, still pounding away from his recent orgasm, surrounded Crowley. He felt supremely happy and filled with profound love for the angel. Aziraphale pulled his body close and Crowley nuzzled his face into Aziraphale’s neck and breathed in deeply. “Mmmf” he mumbled.
Aziraphale didn’t speak. He simply lay there, holding Crowley, stroking his hair. Eventually, lulled by post coital bliss and the heat of Aziraphale’s skin, Crowley drifted off to sleep.
He was woken up in the very early hours of the morning by Aziraphale nuzzling against him with renewed interest, bringing him fully awake, and fully erect with gentle little kisses to Crowley’s face and neck. Without a word, Aziraphale crawled his way down Crowley’s body, trailing soft kisses as he went, and the demon learned that delicious food was not the only thing Aziraphale excelled at putting into his mouth. Within minutes he was crying out in his second orgasm of the night, thrusting up into the angel’s burning hot, highly skilled mouth as he fell over the edge into spasms of intense pleasure that made his toes curl and his eyes roll back in his head.
Once he’d taken a minute or two to recover his senses, he returned the favor, reveling in the taste and feel of the angel’s cock in his mouth, deep in his throat. Aziraphale clutched at Crowley’s hair and made desperate little gasping noises and cried out Crowley’s name until he too came apart in Crowley’s mouth with a loud groan. Afterwards they curled up again together, trying to cling as tightly as possible to one another, kissing languorously and gazing lovingly into each other's eyes until morning came. Crowley had never been so satisfied, so joyous. Had never felt so … loved. It was then that he realized they were no longer “practicing”. That they were well and truly married. They’d signed the contract. They’d gone through the motions, and now, now they were deeply in love and they were married. Nothing that stupid Ookdee agent could say or do would change that He loved Aziraphale, and Aziraphale loved him back. It was so plain to see, that he wondered at how long it had taken him to realize it. He sighed contentedly and wriggled deeper into the angel’s warm embrace as the dim, early winter sunlight crept over the window in Aziraphale’s bedroom.
Crowley must have dozed again, it was hard to stay fully conscious with Aziraphale wrapped around him like a heated blanket.. because he was awoken abruptly by the jangling of the bell over the shop door downstairs. He felt Aziraphale’s arms tighten around him protectively. They both knew what that sound meant.
Agent Ezelriphon had returned.
This might be riddled with mistakes. I chose to post it before leaving for work, rather than finish it tonight when I'm tired and distracted, or waiting to finish over the weekend. I hope you enjoy. It's ridiculous. It's silly. It's Ineffable Husbands.
Bless all of you who comment and leave kudos. I love you all
Earlier that day, or six thousand years ago, or next week… time moved strangely on the Astral Plane.
God let out a happy sigh and sank down into Her favorite chair. She’d just shuffled off the visage of “Agent Ezelriphon” in the way that one would shrug off a filthy coat, and it was a relief to be free of the constraints of the unpleasant persona.
“Yuck.” She said inarticulately to The Metatron who waited for her in a nearby armchair, cup of tea in his hands. “You know I’ve done a good job of disguising myself as an unlikable character when even I can’t stand to spend time in their company!”
“Indeed” remarked The Metatron, “She was unlikable in the extreme my Lord”
“Well, I must do what needs doing” God responded. She blinked, and a piping hot cup of tea appeared on a small table at her elbow… which had also just appeared out of nowhere. “It seems I need to go to great lengths to get these two morons together. I swear to Me, this is the hardest I’ve ever worked as a matchmaker in all of My existence, and I got Adam and Eve to get together. Despite the fact that she’s a Libra and he’s an Aries!” She picked up the tea and took an experimental sip. Yes, She was a being of infinite power, but She still enjoyed slowly blowing on tea until it cooled to drinking temperature, rather than wishing it into existence at just the right temperature for sipping.
“Quite” The Metatron replied. “I could have sworn the whole ‘forbidden fruit’ angle, what with them being on opposite sides, yet continually being thrown together would have worked. I mean, it always does in the movies” he grinned at his little joke. God grinned as well.
Humans had created movies in order to tell stories of how love should be, then had tied themselves up into knots when love never ever ever turned out the way it did in the movies. They were such an entertaining species.
“Oh, I thought for sure they’d have professed undying love at least sixteen centuries before now. What with that business of the demon rescuing the angel from the Bastille? That whole thing with the books? ‘ You go too fast for me Crowley’ ?? Come ON !” God rolled her eyes and put the cup back down on her little end table. “I swear, I’ve never seen a pair of practically omnipowerful, immortal beings be quite this dense before.”
“What’s next My Lord?” The Metatron asked curiously “Will you tie them up with twine and shove them into a closet?” he was joking of course, but God had literally considered it before. It worked in the movies after all…
“No, no. Being that I’m Me, I’m forced to ‘Work In Mysterious Ways’... Can’t go around shoving people together and yelling TELL HIM YOU LOVE HIM now can I?”
“Don’t know Lord...might be worth a try” The Metatron winked at Her impishly and She grinned back before replying
“No, I have something a touch more subtle than that. Well, perhaps it’s very very subtle, but if it doesn’t do the job, they don’t deserve each other.”
“Will you allow Our side or the Other Side to harm them?”
“Of course not! I love these two idiots! I’d never let any harm befall them. Why do you think they’ve managed to knock around down there for so many millennia? Some people watch soaps. I watch those two. ” Her smile grew a bit grim “Lucifer may think he has a say over what happens to the demon, but he knows I’ll throw a holy fit if he harms a hair on that adorable moron’s head. I only threw him down there in the first place so I could set him up with the angel. They were both so lonely and so perfect for each other, and you know I can’t help but try and set people up. It’s such fun!”
“Admittedly” She continued ruefully “I never knew it would take half of bloody time immemorial for them to get into bed together. I like a good slow burn as much as the next deity, but this? This is getting a bit ridiculous”
“Yes Lord. Agreed”
Agent Ezelriphon had returned…
They pulled apart slowly, looking each other in the eyes, love and regret reflected there in equal measure. “Angel” Crowley said softly
“Darling” Aziraphale responded.
They kissed one more time, then clambered out of bed and snapped themselves clean and dressed in a split second and went downstairs to meet their fate.
They saw Ezelriphon, waiting for them at the bottom of the stairs, a grim look on her face, her messenger bag slung across her shoulders. She was tapping her foot impatiently and looked up at them as they descended the stairs. “Good morning gentlemen” she said in a voice devoid of emotion.
“Good morning” Aziraphale responded somberly. Crowley didn’t think he trusted himself to speak. The look on Ezelriphon’s face was causing a slow wave of dread to rise up inside his stomach. She never looked happy, but today, she looked positively gloomy. Maybe though this was a good sign, as she was vindictive and pompous and if she were unhappy, it might spell victory for he and Aziraphale? He was honestly so turned around by this whole process that he didn’t know what to think anymore.
They reached the bottom of the stairs and stood before Ezelriphon, hand in hand. “Well” she said. “As you can clearly see, this is the final interview of your Immigration Investigation by the OOCDII. Unfortunately..” she added, her plain face betraying no emotion at all “There isn’t going to be a final interview. We only say that to keep people off balance during the investigation process. The time between when I last interviewed you and today was spent tabulating your responses and reviewing the public footage we have of your relationship. I have come to give you our verdict”
Crowley felt his chest constrict in dread and he squeezed Aziraphale’s hand tightly. He could feel the angel squeezing back, just as hard, in a grip bordering on painful. He turned his head to look at the angel, but Aziraphale was staring straight at Ezelriphon, his face pale and drawn.
“Fine then” Crowley also turned his attention back to the agent. “Out with it. No need to sugar coat it” his last words were said with heavy irony as Ezelriphon never sugar coated anything.
“Alright. Would you prefer to sit for the news?”
“No thank you” Aziraphale responded this time. “We’re fine right where we are” He gave Crowley’s hand another squeeze.
“As you wish” Ezelriphon replied. “It is my duty, as an Agent of the Office Of Celestial and Demonic Intermarriage and Immigration to inform you that your petition to stay on earth as a mairried couple has been… denied. Your marriage has been found to be false, and so it will be annulled and you will be sent back to your own head offices for processing”
Crowley felt the blood drain from his face and felt his knees buckle slightly under him. He heard Aziraphale gasp at his side. It didn’t take long though, for his shock to turn to anger.
“You horrible, insensitive, nasty, small minded little angel” he growled out between teeth that were suddenly a bit sharper than a minute prior. “How dare you pronounce our marriage as false? How dare you try and tell us that the way we feel isn’t true and real?” He took a step towards the agent, who immediately took a step backwards and brought her hand up between them in a warning gesture.
“Careful now Mr. Crowley. I am protected by quite a fervent team of security guards. I wouldn’t go about trying to harm me, just because you don’t like my verdict”
“Don’t worry” Crowley gritted out, his jaw clenching in rage “I wouldn’t touch you if someone paid me to do it.”
He turned to look at Aziraphale, who had, if possible grown even paler. He was refusing to look at Crowley, staring down in stead at his feet. He was trembling slightly.
“I’ll give you a moment to say your goodbyes, before I call in the angels and demons who have been slated to escort you back to your respective head offices.” Crowley almost couldn’t hear her for the blood rushing in his ears. He was dimly aware that Ezelriphon had stepped over to the door of the shop and appeared to be making marks in a small black book. So, she wouldn’t even give them privacy in their last moments? He supposed it didn’t matter. This was the end afterall.
“Angel” he turned to Aziraphale and stepped up close to him, “Look at me please” he begged gently.
Aziraphale dutifully raised his eyes to look into Crowley’s and Crowley felt the glance like a blow. The depth of sadness and love in Azirapahale’s eyes was palpable, so strong and so true. “Angel” He repeated, and took Aziraphale’s face in his hands. “Angel, I’m so in love with you. I love you so very much”
“Oh Crowley” Aziraphale’s voice was strained and full of emotion “I love you too. More than you can know”
“Everything I’ve done and said these past few weeks has been real and true. None of it was ‘practice’”. Crowley felt it was important to make that very clear to Aziraphale. He dragged his thumbs gently over the angel’s cheekbone and the soft area just next to his mouth, his eyes frantically searching Aziraphale’s beautiful face, memorizing it, imprinting it into his brain as much as he could. He saw Aziraphale’s eyes fill with tears and his own vision blurred in response.
“Yes.” Aziraphale responded, his tears spilling over and tumbling down his cheeks to wet Crowley’s thumbs. “Yes. All of it was true. All of it was real.” He smiled weakly.
“I’ll fight my way back to you” Crowley said.
“Yes my darling. Yes my love.” Aziraphale whispered. “I’ll pull down the pillars of heaven and run back to your arms, or I’ll die trying.”
Crowley nodded, “It would have been good wouldn’t it? Being married?” he asked
“Oh Crowley” Aziraphale sobbed, unable to answer the demon’s question. Instead he pulled Crowley to him and kissed him. Crowley kissed back with all the love he felt in his heart, striving to memorize the feel of the angel’s soft lips, the smell of him, the sound of the soft sigh that escaped him as their lips pressed together. Eventually, they broke the kiss in favor of simply wrapping their arms tightly around each other and clinging together, both crying now.
They were jolted apart suddenly by a loud thunder clap and a bright flash of light. Looking around, they could no longer see Agent Ezelriphon anywhere. Had she stepped away? Had she gone to fetch their jailers? Then Crowley noticed an ornate wooden dais off to the side of the door that he couldn’t remember seeing before. On top of it sat a glass case, and inside the case was a single piece of old fashioned parchment.
They both walked over to it, drying their tears as they went, Crowley still waiting for some other shoe to drop, for demons to bust through the doors and grab him. He gripped Aziraphale’s hand as they approached the display case and peered in at what was written on the paper.
The ink looked fresh, though the paper itself looked ancient. Yellowed and curling at the corners. It rested on a bed of grey velvet under the glass. On it, in fancy script, written in black ink were the words:
“Congratulations on your recent nuptials! After the longest courtship in recorded history, I, your all knowing God and Lord Almighty have granted you this very fancy, very official wedding certificate to certify that you, Principality Aziraphale, and you, Demon Crowley are now husbands!*
* It took you bloody long enough”
Crowley turned wondering eyes to Aziraphale, who was still gazing down at the paper behind the glass with a dumbstruck look on his face. “What…” Aziraphale said. He seemed unable to finish his sentence.
Crowley wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. “Angel!” he yelled, gripping Aziraphale by the shoulders and dragging his gaze away from the marriage certificate so that he had to look at Crowley. “Angel! We’ve been pardoned! God herself has decreed that we’re married!”
“But…” Aziraphale was clearly struggling to process this turn of events. “But.. we were to be separated forever” he said in a small voice.
“No angel! No! Look! Can’t you see? She’s granted us asylum… or something to that effect. It’s there, on paper. In Her own hand!”
A small hopeful smile found its way across Aziraphale’s face. “Oh my” he breathed. “Oh my… She has hasn’t She?”. Glancing back at the paper, his smile grew wider. He looked upwards and spoke to the ceiling with a joyful tone to his voice “Thank you Lord! I’m eternally grateful!”
Crowley glanced up at the ceiling and grudgingly added a “Yeah thanks” just for good measure. He’d be damned if he was going to actually pray to God.
They looked at each other then, eyes shining with glee. Crowley grabbed Aziraphale and kissed him with as much affection and passion as he could manage. Which was quite a lot. They broke apart, breathless. “Angel, I’m sorry it took me so long to tell you” Crowley felt an apology was needed.
“Dearest please. It took me just as long. I thought you didn’t feel anything more than friendship for me, so I kept my distance.”
“Same” Crowley replied. “Still, I feel like we’ve wasted a lot of time.”
Aziraphale grinned wickedly, or as wickedly as an angel could grin “We’ll simply have to make up for it.” he had started drawing a little pattern with his fingertips against Crowley’s low back over his shirt and the demon felt himself go shivery all over.
And make up for it they did. They promptly went back upstairs to make love, this time with the slow, lazy surety of a couple who had all the time in the world to explore each other’s bodies. Crowley learned that Aziraphale loved to be pounded into the mattress with quite a bit of force. He learned this by way of Aziraphale gripping him by the hips and urging him onward, far past the point Crowley thought was decent for a celestial being, and so he happily obliged. He learned that Aziraphale rather enjoyed being called a “naughty little angel” while Crowley tugged on the hair at the back of his head. Crowley learned that he himself was ticklish, and that the ticklish parts of his body (his sides and his feet) became very powerful erogenous zones when Aziraphale slowed down the motions of his fingertips. He learned to love making Aziraphale beg for release and that the angel whispering those soft pleas into his ear made his orgasms blindingly intense.
They didn’t leave the bedroom for a week straight. Crowley had to giggle to himself at what an underestimation Aziraphale had made when he’d told Ezelriphon that they made love three times a day. As it turned out, celestial and demonic beings had a very short refractory period and they took advantage of that fact to the full extent of it’s many possibilities.
Eventually though, after they’d broken and fixed Aziraphale’s ancient bed twice, they decided they’d rather like to go out to eat and then for a walk. They spent the rest of that winter, and many many years afterwards enjoying all that the earth had to offer them and enjoying one another. Sometimes Crowley would infuriate Aziraphale, and sometimes Aziraphale made Crowley so frustrated that he had to go yell at his plants (carefully installed in a greenhouse at the back of the bookshop where they both now lived). It was very much like any marriage. And it was glorious.
Meanwhile, back on the Astral Plane. God sighed happily and nudged The Metatron with her elbow. “My my. They’ve certainly taken well to this marriage thing haven’t they?” she asked, Her tone salacious.
“Yes Lord. They’re quite enthusiastic” agreed The Metatron. “Nicely done by the way”
“Yeah. It only took six thousand Me Damned years to get them together, but I’m nothing if not persistent”
“That you are Lord. That you are”
And with that, they both settled in to discuss administrative matters over a nice chicken Vindaloo.