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Introduction to Touch

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The Principality Aziraphale, Guardian of the Eastern Gate, sat in his favorite chair in his newly restored bookshop, head in his hands, trembling and rocking back and forth ever so slightly, trying his best not to let the tears stream through his fingers and onto his perfectly tailored trousers.

The Demon Crowley, Master of the Underworld, sat in the center of the couch across from the Angel, eyes fixed on the hands covering his best friend's face and making a mental list of everything that had happened to them in the last 24 hours and wondering how they had ended up here… with the Angel, in more distress than he'd been during the literal end times.

1. They'd saved the world
2. They'd returned to Crowley's and stayed up all night making a plan
3. They'd swapped bodies
4. They'd visited St. James for ice cream and a kidnapping
5. They'd thwarted Heaven and Hell's plans for their destruction
6. They'd switched back in Berkeley Square
7. They'd dined at the Ritz and laughed and talked for hours
8. They'd returned to the bookshop to inspect Adam's design
9. They'd had wine
10. They'd had more wine
11. They'd talked about feelings
12. They'd talked about romantic feelings
13. They'd talked about romantic feelings they'd long held for each other
14. Aziraphale had told Crowley he loved him, for quite some time
15. Crowley had told Aziraphale he loved him, for quite some time longer
16. Crowley had, in a moment of euphoric joy, stood and run over towards Aziraphale placing his hands on the Angels'
17. Aziraphale had shouted as if in pain the moment their hands touched and told him to stop
18. Crowley had retreated to his previous spot on the couch
19. Aziraphale had breathed heavily as if hyperventilating
20. Crowley had suggested they both sober up
21. They'd sobered up
22. …And here they sat… the Angel in tears and Crowley confused and heartbroken

After what seemed like 6000 years of silence... Crowley dared to speak...

"Did I just ruin everything?" the Demon asked. "Angel I'm so so sorry… you… said you loved me and I thought you meant… I must have read your words wrong… or… I can go if you…"

"No no Crowley please, I just need a moment!" Aziraphale kept his hands over his face, taking deep shuddering breaths to get himself under control. Finally he lifted his hands away, his cheeks red and tear-stained. Crowley's heart broke a second time to see him this way and he began internally steeling himself for a massive rejection from the being he loved most in the world.

"My dear you did not misinterpret me, I meant what I said when I said I loved you. My feelings are true and bigger than any love I've felt for anything in my existence. I just… I wasn't expecting you to, move towards me quite like that, I just, I wasn't ready for the contact and I… oh this is so awful, Crowley you must think me a horrid awful thing."

Crowley was both relieved and further confused by the Angel's words. He loved him… but panicked at the thought of touching him… it made no sense… unless…"

"Oh… Angel, look, if your love for me is… well… platonic… I guess is the word… and you don't want any… well… romantic touch, I… I totally get it… it's ok… I shouldn't have presumed that would be something you wanted… I'm so stupid… I shouldn't have lunged at you like some lovesick teenager I'm such a bloody idiot Aziraphale…"

"You are not an idiot, Crowley! And… you're also not correct. I DO want touch from you… even romantic touch from you." His cheeks grew even redder at the admission. "But, I'm just, oh I don't know how else to say this dear… I'm just… I'm so afraid of taking that step in our relationship."

Relationship …the Demon's stomach fluttered at the word. His Angel was talking about "taking steps" in a relationship. It was an idea he'd dreamed of so many times. So, the Angel wanted a romantic relationship, but was afraid to touch him? He was so deeply confused.

"Please tell me, Angel, what are you so frightened of? We've touched plenty of times before over the last 6,000 years. Shaken hands, we used to kiss 'hello' before it went out of style for male-presenting persons to do so. Hell, I threw you up against a wall at that old hospital in Tadfield and you barely flinched."

The Angel did flinch now at his words, causing Crowley's heart to seize ever so slightly in his chest.

"I'm aware, my dear. But, it's different now, you see? Those touches and kisses were in the context of our previous relationship. They were, well, casual. Well, throwing someone on a wall isn't exactly casual but I digress. The point is… I always knew we'd never be able to be together, you know, romantically, so I knew there was nothing well, behind the touch, as it were. I knew it couldn't progress beyond the casual because neither one of us wanted the other reprimanded, or worse, destroyed by our respected head offices."

As he spoke, his voice trembling slightly, Aziraphale rubbed at the corners of his waistcoat where the velvet had worn away to the fabric underneath. Crowley had always thought the vest was worn because it was old, now he realized the state of the garment was partially due to the Angel's anxiety… the worn away places were clearly 'worry spots' he grabbed onto when he became overwhelmed. The pain in his chest turned into a throbbing ache, seeing him in such distress, but trying so hard to be brave and express his feelings. He loved him so much. He desperately wanted to stop his thumbs from rubbing the beloved waistcoat to nothing.

"Look, Angel, we don't need to do anything physically with each other. I love you. I'm pleased to just be with you in your presence. It can be the way it was before just… more of it. We can walk in the park every day, dine every night, go to the theatre and the opera and you can tell me about your books and I can tell you about silly things I see on the telly and we'll just… be as we always were, just, without years in between the visits. And I'll be FINE with that, Angel, I mean it. I just want you, in any way you'll have me in return."

He hadn't meant to make the Angel tremble, or make tears well up in his eyes, but there Aziraphale sat, lower lip trembling with big drops beginning to stream silently down his cheeks. Crowley wanted to reach out and take his hand, but again, didn't want to impose or make the Angel uncomfortable, so he used the most tender voice and tone he could muster to talk his Angel through his sadness.

"It's alright Angel, you haven't disappointed me, I know that's what you're thinking. You truly haven't. I adore you and the only thing that would upset me is if you sent me away. Unless…"

His heart dropped into in stomach, the previous ache enveloping his whole corporation.

He continued, forcing the words out of his mouth… "…Unless you want me to go. Do you want me to go, Angel? I don't want to keep upsetting you, if you need me to leave…"

"NO!" The word came out in a near strangled sob. Taking his hands off his waistcoat and throwing them out in front of him, beckoning the demon to stay put. "Please, please please don't leave Crowley. I just need another moment to collect my thoughts, I just don't want to tell you the wrong thing or have you misunderstand."

Crowley felt a bit of relief and tried hard not to let his impatience bubble to the surface. He wanted to treat his Angel with care, but he was also desperate to know why the Angel was so afraid of his touch, and so frightened that he, Crowley, was in fact, the problem.

'You're a demon it's what you do' rang in his ears, burning them at the tops. Could Aziraphale be afraid because he didn't trust Crowley to be gentle with him? To push him into things he didn't want to do? 'You go to fast for me Crowley'… the words would always burn… words that seemed to say, "I love you, BUT…"

Aziraphale sighed, and Crowley snapped out of the thoughts in his near feverish mind. The Angel still seemed quite emotional, but he had let go of the bottom of his waistcoat, which the Demon chose to take as a good sign.

"My dear, my Crowley. I do not want you to go. I don't ever want you to go. I want to do all the things you just said, dinners and walks and all that… the… the thing that has me frightened is that I want even MORE than that. I want so much more. And the "more" that I want is what I'm frightened about. I am not frightened of YOU, Crowley. I'm frightened of what I want, and frightened that I… well… that what I want… will be too slow for you… or… simply not good enough for you."

Crowley tried to follow the Angel's staggered words. He thought he knew what the Angel meant, and if he was right, then the feelings of sadness beginning to flood his chest would be well warranted.

"Tell me everything you're afraid of Angel. Please. Don't hold anything back because you think I can't handle it. Like I said, there is nothing you can say to disappoint me as long as you aren't casting me out of your life. I can work with anything else and show you all the patience in the Universe, I promise you I could."

The Angel sucked in a breath at this, trying to steady his voice again. "I know my dear, and that is why I feel so terrible. You have already shown me such tremendous patience. You've waited for me to catch up for so long, and now that we are here, free to love and express our love, I am putting you in a position to wait some more because of my own personal fears and anxieties."

"May I move just a little closer to your chair, Angel?" Crowley asked gently.

"Of course my dear."

Crowley scooted on the couch so he was against the arm, just about a foot away from the Angel's chair. He didn't want to cause him more anxiety, only to be nearer to him to show he was listening and invested, and not going anywhere.

Aziraphale looked into Crowley's golden eyes, grateful the dark glasses were gone as a barrier between them, knowing that if he looked into those eyes he would have no choice but to tell him the full truth, and bare every part of the heart he didn't need to his best friend.

"Crowley, I absolutely and completely want a physical relationship with you. I want us to touch, and hold each other, both affectionately and, well, passionately too."

The Angel's ears and cheeks were going red as he spoke, and Crowley nearly used a minor miracle to keep his breath from shuddering at those words. The Angel continued…

"I want us to kiss, and explore and well… I wish to… oh goodness, why is this so difficult to just say. I wish to know you… biblically… No… oh this is so silly. I mean… SEX… oh!" He clamped his hands over his mouth involuntarily as he said it.

Now Crowley needed a minor miracle to keep from chuckling… more out of pure shock and joy than anything else. He knew his Angel was in distress at the moment, but he was just so elated and overwhelmed by the moment that every part of him wanted to bark out sounds of joy. He pushed them all down, deeply committed to hearing his Angel out.

"It's ok, Angel, please, just keep telling me what you want to tell me. If it helps, I want all of those things too, I mean… whatever you're comfortable with…" Was his voice squeaking with excitement? He hoped not, he was trying to sound nonchalant and failing miserably. His Angel, Aziraphale, a Principality of the Eastern Gate of Eden actually had thought about and WANTED to have sex with him. He wanted to launch at him again, cover him with kisses, and haul him upstairs to the Angel's bedroom. Did he have a bedroom? He had no idea…

"Crowley?" Aziraphale was looking him like he was far away, searching for him to come back.

"I'm sorry, Angel, I'm here… I really am, I'm just, thinking about everything you're trying to say. Please please continue, I want to understand."

"Yes, well. So, I do, want all of those things. But, I'm just… I'm so… nervous… about all of it. That's why I pulled back and barked at you. I'm so so sorry my dear. It's just… well… I've… I've never… never had… oh goodness…"

"Are you trying to tell me you've never had sex Angel? Because if you are, you shouldn't be worried or ashamed to tell me that." Crowley tried to reassure him in a calm voice. He was being truthful, he didn't have had any issues with the Angel's level of experience. 6,000 years is a long time to spend on Earth, even if Aziraphale had too many lovers to count Crowley would have shrugged the information away, grateful that the Angel's desires were focused here and now on him.

"Thank you, my dear, I appreciate your words. But, I'm just worried. I have not had sex myself, well, not with another person present, I mean… oh no…" he reached for the waistcoat again, fabric between his thumbs and his cheeks truing a brighter shade of red.

"Are you trying to tell me you've touched yourself Angel? Because you shouldn't be ashamed of that either…"

"No! Well… um… that is to say…" Crowley thought the Angel might catch the waistcoat on fire he was rubbing the fabric so furiously.

Crowley took a deep breath and started again, more than anything he wanted to place his hands on Aziraphale's and hush his worried fingers. "If you're uncomfortable you don't have to tell me anything you don't…"

"No, my dear please! Just… please let me finish. I have not deliberately touched, well, my Effort, as it were, no. But, on the rare occasions I've taken to falling asleep, well, it has… misbehaved, in certain ways."

Crowley paused for just a moment to process the information. Another touch of sadness fell upon him once the understanding hit. It was his turn to stumble over his words a bit. "Angel, are you saying… you've had what the humans call… um "wet dreams"? You've, um, had dreams where you had thoughts of a, 'carnal' nature and you woke up, well um…"

"Sticky? Oh!" Aziraphale finished the Demon's thought and clamped his hand over his mouth again.

"Yeah", Crowley continued, "Something like that. Wait, oh Angel… is… is that why you don't like to sleep? Because you've had those dreams? Because the dreams make you, uncomfortable?"

Aziraphale looked up at him not in shame, but in sadness. He could tell where Crowley's mind was going. "Oh, my dear, please, believe me when I say that the dreams were not unpleasant. Quite the opposite. They were quite beautiful. I, well, imagined you touching me, us exploring each other's bodies… I would get so flustered and then I would have this brief moment of well… the only word I can think of is 'splendor'." He smiled, genuinely, and Crowley thought his chest might break apart.

He continued, "I mean, the sticky part wasn't so pleasant, but I could just miracle that away. But, I supposed I was worried that well, SHE… or the other Angels, or, I don't know, someone would know what was happening and how my corporation was reacting to my thoughts. So, no, I didn't like to sleep, because I would lose control and my true feelings and desires would take over. So, when you ask if I've ever touched myself, I suppose I haven't, but, in other ways, I have had sexual experiences with you, just, in my mind, and with a reaction from my body. If that makes any sense."

Crowley wished more than anything that his dark glasses were still back on. Because he knew he was staring at Aziraphale in a combination of bewilderment, shock, joy and surprise, when all he wanted to do was show levelness and nonchalance.

"It does," he managed to squeak out. "It absolutely does, Angel. Um… but… well…"

"Please Crowley… tell me what you're feeling. I feel all I've done is rattle on a bunch of nonsense and silly anxieties."

"They aren't silly, Aziraphale, not at all. I'm, flattered. So deeply flattered… no wait that's not the word. I'm… well, excited that you feel those feelings for me, or at least that, you have… before."

"DO my dear… I do have those feelings for you even now."

"Well, then why not act on them? I mean, we're free. You can feel what you want for me, we can do the things you want to do. And we can do them slow… slow as you like…". Crowley was trying to read the Angel's face, but it was proving difficult, Aziraphale clearly had more to explain. "…look, Angel, please just tell me what is stopping you. Our offices are going to leave us alone, at least I think, so what's stopping you from moving forward with me? Please, just, tell me what you are afraid of."

Crowley watched Aziraphale reach for the worn spots on his waistcoat again, but Aziraphale caught him staring at his hands as he reached. He looked down at his thumbs and sighed. "Silly habit, I know. I'll rub this vest away someday." He laughed a bit then put his hands in his lap. "I wish I was more like you Crowley, that I could just have the things I want without worry or fear. I know I eat whatever I like, miracle the funds to get the books I want and keep developers away from my shop. I'm not against indulging in pleasures of life, but for some reason, the prospect of a physical relationship sets every fearful nerve in this blasted corporation completely on edge."

"Then we don't have to have a physical relationship Angel!" Crowley hadn't meant to shout, it wasn't from anger or even frustration, just a strong desire to know what the possibilities were. "I'm… I'm so sorry please, forgive me Angel I didn't mean to shout at you…"

"I'm afraid I won't be good enough!" The tears appeared back in the Angel's eyes but he had a gaze of determination, as though Crowley's words had shocked his stubborn tongue into action.

"I am not totally ignorant of sex and what it is Crowley, but I have no experience. I've never even held your hand for more than a few seconds for a handshake. I don't know how to kiss, or touch or do anything you could want in that arena… So how could I possibly satisfy you? How could I possibly make you feel good and wanted? Or, for that matter, I know so little of my own body I don't even know what to tell YOU to do for me. You would ask me what I needed or wanted and I would just say "I don't know" over and over again."

Crowley wanted to say something but didn't dare interrupt lest he cause the Angel to lose his bravery.

"And, I worry about my body. I worry that it isn't attractive. I worry that I am not the physical ideal you would want and desire. You say you want the things I want, but you've never seen me without my clothes, or at least not since the Roman baths and even then, it was hardly a glimpse. I don't even know if you would want a male-presenting corporation."

Crowley nearly interrupted at the outrageous notion that he wouldn't find the Angel physically beautiful but was rightly cut off before he could interject.

"And, I have also seen sex be, well, damaging to some humans."

Crowley felt as though the wind had been knocked out of him, and his desire to interrupt had been completely squashed by a look of sadness creeping into the Angel's eyes.

"I have seen… well, humans, use sex for power and domination in unhealthy or unsafe ways. I've seen sex involved in assault, I've seen it be painful… even in consensual situations I've heard that people can be so afraid to voice their discomfort with sex and sexuality that they allow themselves to be in pain for want of not hurting their partner's feelings."

The Angel must have seen something in Crowley's expression, because he quickly continued, "Please believe me, my dear, I know you wouldn't do anything to purposefully hurt me, but I am afraid that I would lack the strength to be honest with you if you did. I don't want to lose you, I want to please you, and I'm afraid I won't be able to in a wide variety of ways. I… I love you… Crowley… I don't want anything to happen that would stop you from loving me too."

Crowley sat with his hands pressed against his knees, still as a statue, keeping his eyes firmly directed at his Angel. His beautiful, stunning, brave Angel. With all of his will, he pushed the tears beginning to well up in his own eyes away. He knew he needed to be steady and choose his words carefully, and try not to take too long a pause before speaking…

"Angel… first… may I please put my hand on top of one or both of yours?"

Aziraphale's breath hitched slightly, but a small smile started to form at the corner of his lips. He looked down at his right hand now resting on his knee and back up into Crowley's eyes as if to give him permission to touch before saying, "Yes, dear, that would be alright."

Crowley tentatively reached his left hand forward and placed it on top of Aziraphale's right hand. Despite all of his emotion, the Angel's skin still felt cool and dry and soft and welcoming to his touch. The Demon felt a kind of electricity flow through him at the contact, slightly deadening the pervasive ache he'd been feeling in his chest throughout their conversation. He allowed his thumb to rub gentle circles around the side of the Angel's hand, and while he felt a slight flutter of tension, he heard Aziraphale let out a small sigh and relax into the contact.

"Aziraphale… I'm going to try as hard as I can to tell you how I feel, but I don't have the same, um… way with words that you do. There's a part of me that wants to just tell you you're a bloody idiot to be worried about all of these things you just told me."

The Angel tried to protest, but Crowley stopped him just in time, his thumb still rubbing circles on his hand as if the Angel himself was a worry-stone.

"But you're not… an idiot… in any way… you're… brilliant and brave and honest and you express your mind and soul better than I ever could. And… I love you too, Angel."

"Oh my dear," he sighed in some relief, "I love you so very much, and I don't deserve your praises, I haven't always been honest with you or shown you kindness…"

"You deserve the world Angel; the whole universe isn't enough for what you deserve. And, like you said, our circumstances used to be very different. I know you LIKE me as well as love me…"

'We have nothing whatsoever in common I don't even like you'. Aziraphale winced at his words, remembering their dreadful conversation in the gazebo.

Crowley continued, "… so please… don't worry about things said or done in the past, we're here now. And I've heard everything you've said, and I'm still trying to process all of it…"

"Crowley you can take all the time you need, I just needed to…"

"Please, Angel, let me finish my thought and then we can, well, process all of this together."

"Apologies, dear, please continue."

"First, I don't want you to apologize for anything. Everything you've told me is important for me to know and they are all subjects I want to be aware of and honor as we move forward."

The Angel perked up at this… "You mean, what I've told you isn't too much? You still want to move forward?"

"With everything that I am, have been and will ever be. I think, Angel, what you're trying to tell me, is that you want to go slow… wait, no not that… I think you're asking that we go at your pace. You want to move forward, you want to explore your feelings for me, but you just need me to be patient. I can do that… I've done it for 6000 years and I could do it for 6000 more if you needed me to."

Aziraphale seemed to tense up again just a bit and he couldn't quite look into Crowley's eyes… "I know Crowley… but… I just don't know what the future holds, and I don't know if my anxieties will ever ease at all… it… feels like I'm asking too much of you…"

"It isn't too much… because… I love you. And when you really love someone, you do all you can to help them feel comfortable and happy and wanted and cared for. I would gladly spend the rest of my days being there for you, Angel, however you want me to be. You have to know that's true."

"I do my dear, I truly do, I just… I can't quite believe it is all."

"Besides," Crowley said, his eyes shining brighter as he looked down towards the Angel's knee, "it looks like you're getting more comfortable already."

The Angel let out a little gasp as he looked down and saw something completely unexpected.

"Oh, oh Crowley!"

The fondness in the Angel's voice replaced the previous ache in Crowley's chest with a new kind of feeling; a blooming of warmth the likes of which he'd never felt. At some point during their conversation, Aziraphale had turned his hand over so that their palms touched, while Crowley's thumb continued to stroke gentle constant circles.

"See Angel, this is how we'll let everything happen. We'll let your mind and your body decide what to do, and I'll be there for every step. Don't think of it as us going slow or at your pace, just think of it as listening to yourself and what you want in each moment, and we'll just let it all happen, well… naturally."

Then Angel beamed at his best friend and love, "I think that sounds more wonderful than I could have ever imagined my dear."

Crowley gently squeezed Aziraphale's hand, and he squeezed back. "How does this… feel?", asks the Demon tentatively.

"Oh… oh very nice actually. My… my heart is beating a bit faster than it probably should for this corporation, but I'm not fully sure it's a bad thing."

Crowley smiled gently, "I think over time you'll figure out whether your heart is beating because you're excited or because you're anxious. Also, in case I wasn't clear, Angel, you can and should always tell me to stop if you need me to. I promise I always will, immediately. Nothing between us will happen without consent."

The Angel sighed in tremendous relief, and even took the initiative to squeeze Crowley's hand. "My dear, I'm so grateful you have no idea. Also, the same goes for you. My understanding is that these sorts of things go two ways. If I'm ever making you uncomfortable, or frustrated, or anything of the sort, you'll tell me, won't you?"

"Of course Angel… you have my word." It was his turn to sigh in relief and let a comfortable silence hang between them.

Crowley did have some lingering concerns in the back on his mind. He worried about his own self-control, he worried about accidentally startling or hurting the Angel, but he didn't want to bring up those worries now, not with the warm loving hand of his beloved clasped in his own… those were hurdles they could approach later, when they were ready.

"So, Angel, how do you want to spend the rest of this evening?"

Aziraphale thought for a moment, a slightly worried expression on his face.

"Anything you want, Angel, just keep on being brave enough to be honest with me."

The Angel seemed gather some confidence and then looked right into Crowley's eyes, "I think I'm still feeling a bit overwhelmed, and also quite tired, dear. I think perhaps you should head home to your flat and get some rest… and I think… I will do the same here. I think I will allow myself to sleep, and, well, not worry about anything that might… well… happen… in the night."

Crowley smiled, glad that the Angel was already telling him exactly what he wanted and what he was comfortable doing even though he was blushing a bit over the words "happen in the night."

"However…" the Principality continued… "I would very much like to see you in the morning at St. James. I will bring something for us to nibble on for breakfast, you can bring…"

"The hot cocoa and the rolled oats for the ducks? It's a date Angel."

"Oh! Yes, my dear, let's say it's a date. A proper date. And, perhaps we can, hold hands while we sit on the bench? When we aren't eating that is… or… drinking our drinks… or, well I supposed it might be difficult to hold hands while also feeding the ducks and eating our pastries and…"

Crowley gently squeezed Aziraphale's hand, "Angel… it's ok… we'll do what we said we would remember? We'll hold hands when the moment is right… ok?"

"Yes dear… we will… oh Crowley, thank you… you know… I'm so glad you told me about not feeding bread to ducks… I hadn't realized it wasn't good for them, and you know I also read that…"

As the Angel continued his train of thought, Crowley kept his golden eyes fixed on him, and as he did so, he made another list in his head.

1. Aziraphale would rest tonight with less worry
2. Crowley would barely be able to sleep tonight knowing what the future could bring between them
3. They'd have breakfast and feed the ducks in the morning like they had so many times before… but this time…it would be a proper date
4. They loved each other, and they were about to move forward into the relationship they'd dreamed of having for so very very long

Chapter Text

Crowley liked lists.

Despite being a creature of chaos, he had an appreciation for order and design in the carrying out of said chaos. The night after their "talk", despite the exhaustion of the previous days, he'd stayed up all night making a 'touch list' for him and his Angel and committed it to memory.

He thought of every intimate act two beings could have with each other, from a wink across a dinner table to shared orgasms and everything in between. There was so much for the two of them to experience together for the first time in this new 'arrangement'… the arrangement being a romantic relationship. The details he went into were precise, plentiful and impressive.

He thought in terms of initiation of contact, consent, locations, proximity, positions, the things he'd say, the things he'd do, the places where he'd ask for a kiss and the places on the Angel's body he'd ask to kiss… he could go on and on… He thought of everything in terms of one big beautiful checklist.

Saying "I love you": CHECK
Placing his hand on top of the Angel's: CHECK
Hand holding, palms touching: CHECK

He reminded himself that this pursuit was going to be about the Angel and his comfort above all else. As excited and filled with anticipation as he was, he knew he needed to keep his desires in check. The image of Aziraphale pulling away from him, and the sound of him shouting "STOP" was something he hoped to never hear again, even though he knew he would if he ever accidentally pushed the Angel too far.

"Right then," he thought to himself, "Let's start with some little things…"

*****

Their first official "date" was moving along as both had hoped. They'd started with breakfast on their regular bench and then moved on to the ducks, watching them scramble for the oats both on the water and the grass at their feet. They stood close together, chuckling at their determination to gobble up every last scrap, giving each other glances and sweet smiles. At one point, Crowley's glasses slipped down his nose, giving Aziraphale a glimpse of his golden eyes shining beneath. Crowley gave him a quick but intentional wink before pushing his glasses back up into place and he saw the Angel's perfect round cheeks go a bit pink.

Aziraphale threw the last of his oats towards the water and when he brought his hand down, the back of it brushed against Crowley's. As he would have in the days before their recent ordeal, he pulled his hand away, more out of reflex than discomfort.

Crowley said nothing, did nothing, but he was grateful his glasses were on, so his eyes wouldn't betray his slight disappointment. He was about to dump the last of his oats from the bag and suggest they go elsewhere when he felt another brush of Aziraphale's hand against his. He looked at the Angel's face and saw he was looking down at their hands, watching their knuckles move closer and closer together, an ever so slight tremble in Aziraphale's fingers.

Crowley realized the last brush had been intentional, the Angel was clearly testing his personal boundaries, trying to get himself more comfortable with this kind of contact between them. Just as Crowley was thinking of using his hand to feed the ducks one more handful of oats, there was a third, slightly more lingering brush of their hands, emboldening him to speak.

"Do you want to take my hand, Angel?"

Aziraphale started suddenly at his words but didn't pull his hand away. "Oh! Um… well…"

"Because you can if you like. You're always welcome to… whenever you want… you don't even need to ask me unless you feel you want to… ask… that is…" Crowley was failing miserably at being nonchalant again. He was just so excited that Aziraphale seemed to be initiating touch between them this early on… he thought this moment would be weeks away.

Aziraphale actually seemed to relax a bit over Crowley's words. It gave him a certain comfort to know he wasn't the only one with nerves about this new 'arrangement.'

"Why yes dear, I would like to take your hand. And… I would also… if it's alright… I'd like to um… how would you say this… can we, thread our fingers together? You know, one on top of the other? Or is it between… I'm not really sure…"

"You can take my hand however you wish Angel, always."

Aziraphale smiled fondly at his demon, took a breath, looked back down, and weaved their fingers together as if they'd been doing so for centuries. There was still a slight tremble in his hand, but when Crowley looked into his eyes, he realized it was because a giddy giggle was rising up in his Angel.

Aziraphale couldn't take his own eyes off of their clasped hands, he even swung them slightly, letting his joyful laughter ring out just a little… just enough for the ducks in front of them to hear.

Crowley allowed fondness to spread directly from their hands and up into his chest, "Well, I'm just about out of oats and our breakfast is done. Do we need to go somewhere for second breakfast, Angel?"

Aziraphale gave his hand a squeeze. "My dear I've always said you're full of sinful ideas. Perhaps we could walk back towards mine and see if we come across anything scrummy along the way?"

Crowley rolled his eyes a bit behind his glasses. "Scrummy? Oh Angel, you really have a way with words… Oi!"

With his light teasing, Aziraphale reacted in a way that might have seemed perfectly natural to most, but for an Angel with touch-insecurity was quite something… he'd taken their clasped hands and smacked them against Crowley's hip, a little gleam in his eye.

"Scrummy is a perfectly descriptive word my dear boy. Now come along, let's head back to the bookshop."

"Lead the way, Angel."

As they walked up the path through the park, still hand-in-hand, Crowley made the necessary additions to his list…

Flirtatious wink: CHECK
The Angel initiating holding hands: CHECK
Lacing fingers: CHECK
Playful taps: CHECK

It had been a very productive breakfast indeed…

*****

Over the course of the next week, the two of them took 'hand-holding' to new heights, and began to introduce other little touches as well…

For hand-holding, they could hardly stand to let the other go. They held hands on walks, while chatting in the bookshop, they'd even attempted to keep them held while enjoying a meal, which proved a little challenging, especially when one of them needed to wipe their mouth with a napkin… but still, they held on best they could.

Crowley's hand seemed to be replacing Aziraphale's waistcoat as the thing he touched when he was nervous, and the Demon was elated that something which had brought the Angel such distress just days before was becoming a source of comfort.

On the eighth day of the rest of their lives, they sat on the well-worn couch in the back of the bookshop watching a movie; a Buster Keaton film of which Aziraphale was especially fond. Asking for each other's consent with every move, they'd ticked off several new items on the checklist…

Demon's head resting on Angel's shoulder: CHECK
Angel's head resting on top of Demon's head: CHECK
Rubbing each other's palms with fingers and thumbs: CHECK
Gentle arm scratches: CHECK
Demon draping an arm across Angel's shoulders: CHECK
Angel's head resting on Demon's shoulder: CHECK

With each of these steps, the Angel had seemed a bit stiff, in some moments to the point where Crowley considered breaking off the contact. But Aziraphale always assured him that he needed "just a moment, dear" and would relax into the new touch. Crowley was absolutely elated.

By the time they reached the end of the movie, Crowley had his arm around Aziraphale's shoulders, gently scratching his fingernails up and down his arm, and Aziraphale's head was leaning on his Demon's shoulder and the top of his chest. Both were in a state of absolute bliss, and even a bit of surprise that this piece of intimacy between them had fallen into place so easily.

The credits rolled and the Angel sat up, prompting Crowley to gently, though reluctantly, remove his arm.
"Well Angel, it's getting late and I should probably head home. The plants need to be spoken with before the night is through."

"Oh," the Angel was not a fan of Crowley's harshness towards the plants, "do try to show them some of the patience you show me, dear… they do try so hard to please you."

Crowley couldn't help but chuckle at his words, "Walk me out, Angel?"

The two stood and headed towards the front door of the shop. They'd taken to holding both hands and squeezing tight to say good night over the course of the week, and Aziraphale held out both hands to Crowley to resume their nightly ritual.

Instead of taking the Angel's hands, Crowley, feeling bold after the last two hours of cuddling, decided to take a risk at checking one more item off the list.

"Angel, how would you feel if I gave you a hug? It's been so wonderful today, you've taken so many leaps with me. I completely understand if another one would be too much…"

"Yes! Oh… well…" Aziraphale seemed to surprise himself with his own exclamation but was also quick to start trembling."

Crowley was quick to backtrack based on the Angel's body language. "You can say no Aziraphale, you never have to say yes to anything…"

"I do wish to hug you dear! Truly… just… um… this might seem silly but… gently? Oh, I don't know why I'm fretting, you had your arm around my shoulders for the better part of an hour…"

"Angel, you never have to explain yourself to me, remember? What's comfortable to one person can be the very opposite to another. It's different sensations, different feelings in your body, and you can't always control how you'll react. We can try another time if you…"

"Oh Crowley, you say wonderful things like that to reassure me and it… well… ironically… makes we want to hug you."

The two couldn't help but laugh. The Demon was quickly learning that talking through these things was a key part of this journey they were taking. Aziraphale was indeed ready and willing for so many things, they just needed to take the time to talk it out; something Crowley thought might be tedious, but usually just resulted in his heart melting pleasantly in his chest.

Crowley continued, "Why don't you put your arms around me where you're comfortable Angel and I'll follow." With that he opened his arms, giving Aziraphale permission to touch him where he wanted."

Taking a bit of a breath to steel himself, Aziraphale tentatively stepped forward, and gently circled both arms around the Demon's waist… letting his cheek just barely rest against his chest as he gave him the lightest of squeezes. Crowley brought his arms down and circled them with the same care around his Angel, resting both hands on his back in the area where his wings would spring from his body.

As the Angel relaxed and sighed into the contact, Crowley enacted a minor miracle to stop his heart from thundering as hard as it wanted to… he didn't want to scare him.

Neither could say how long they stayed that way… they knew the hug began in the evening and they broke apart in the evening… but how many hours or days passed in between would remain a mystery.

Crowley would remember, after breaking apart, making his way to the Bentley and blissfully making one more adjustment to his list…

Hug: CHECK

Chapter Text

It had been nearly three weeks since their trials in Heaven and Hell, and Crowley found himself sitting in the Angel's favorite chair in the back of the bookshop, head in his hands, a single tear breaking through his fingers and dropping onto his trousers. He was a near carbon copy of his Angel from the night of their talk when he'd tried to grab Aziraphale's hands after their confessions of love.

Despite his careful action and concentration, he'd slipped. He'd done the thing he swore he wouldn't do again after that night… he'd made the Angel scream "STOP!" at an act of his touch.

The thoughts running through his head were the same as they'd been that night, "Did I just ruin everything?"

*****

The hugs had been an absolutely glorious development in their relationship. Crowley was shocked by how many boxes on the checklist began to fill in this category of their touches.

Hug 'hello': CHECK
Hug 'goodbye': CHECK
Hug 'just because': CHECK
Quick Hug: CHECK
Lingering Hug: CHECK
Hug so long they weren't sure what time it was: CHECK
One-armed hug: CHECK
Two-armed hug: CHECK
Hug with arms around neck: CHECK
Hug with arms around waist: CHECK
Hug with accompanying back rubs/scratches: CHECK
Hug with accompanying arm rubs/scratches: CHECK
Hug with gentle squeeze: CHECK
Hug with tight squeeze: CHECK
'Bear' Hug while swinging back and forth slightly, giggling with joy and saying 'I love you' at the same time: CHECK

And… the truly unexpected and most joyful addition to the list yet…

Angel telling the Demon he could hug him without asking first: CHECK

Crowley was fairly certain that if Aziraphale told him this was it, this was as far as he would go physically, these hugs, he would feel only minimal disappointment. The hugs communicated so much between them: love, gentleness, warmth, adoration, even passion.

The hugs had also opened doors to other even more casual touches between them… ones the Demon was sure would have come before the hugs when initially formulating his list…

Angel placing a hand on the small of the Demon's back to usher him through a door: CHECK
Demon placing a hand on the Angel's shoulder to move past him between narrow bookshelves: CHECK
Legs and thighs touching while sitting on the couch together: CHECK
Demon resting his feet in the Angel's lap while watching a movie: CHECK

Every last one of these moments felt precious; full of sparks and gentle contentment. Crowley spent their moments apart wondering what he'd done to deserve this… such tenderness on a daily basis.

And it was in that addled state of bliss that he'd slipped. He'd gotten too comfortable. He'd let himself be careless.

As with many mistakes, the intention behind it had been good. They were hugging all the time, hardly a reason behind the contact. He'd been napping on the couch, as he was often wont to do in the late afternoon while the Angel shooed away any customers to prepare for an evening together. He awoke to see Aziraphale with his back to him, standing in between two narrow shelves of books; lost in a text he was holding in his right hand, his left arm dangling by his side.

Crowley got the idea in that moment, and got up as quietly as possible, his footfalls nearly silent as he approached the Angel. He managed to get right behind his Principality without him noticing, and gently snaked his arms around Aziraphale's middle, pressing his front to the Angel's back in a surprise hug.

At first, the Angel appeared pleased, but mere second afterwards, Crowley could physically feel his terrible mistake.

"Oh! Hello my dear… oh.. no… no no no CROWLEY STOP!"

Crowley let go immediately and backed away as if the Angel's back was on fire, the book Aziraphale had be holding dropped to the floor facedown, several of its precious pages getting bent in the process.

Aziraphale was visibly shaking, his hands pressed against his waistcoat, fingers looking for his regular worry spots, his eyes darting between Crowley's face and the book on the floor.

Crowley felt his stomach sinking and he let out a smattering of desperate apologies, "I'm so sorry Angel… I shouldn't have… I should have asked… please I'm… I'll… I'll just go… I'm so so so so sorry I…"

As the Demon stammered, the Angel looked away and fixed his gaze on the book on the floor. He gathered it up, noting that several pages were indeed bent where it had been dropped.

Still trembling, Aziraphale finally responded. "Crowley, I… I need to go upstairs to my flat to… um… tend to this book for a moment. Would you please please stay down here? I... shouldn't um... be more than a few minutes."

Everything in Crowley's mind told him to flee. It was often the first place his mind went in times of great distress. 'Alpha Centauri! Let's go!' Leaving the planet sounded like an excellent plan in this moment, given how much he's upset his Angel. But he couldn't deny Aziraphale anything he asked for…

"Of course, Angel… I'll be here… I'm… please I'm so so so sor-"

"I'll be back… um… in a moment Crowley… we'll… we'll talk about this in just a moment…"

And with that, the Angel darted up the stairs, door opening and shutting quite hard behind him.

*****

That was nearly 20 minutes ago according to the grandfather clock in the corner of the shop, and Crowley still sat, wondering how many more torturous minutes would pass before the Angel came downstairs and ended their new relationship.

He couldn't believe he'd been so stupid; just surprising the Angel out of nowhere like that. Yes, Aziraphale had said they could hug without permission, but there had always been eye contact beforehand, or some unspoken implication that contact was about to happen. He'd tried so hard to be respectful and careful of his best friend's needs, and still managed to completely fail less than a month after the new 'arrangement' had taken hold.

It was Crowley's turn to tremble as he finally heard the door of the flat upstairs open, and the gentle yet steady footsteps of the Angel coming down the stairs.

In another parallel of the night of their 'talk', Aziraphale took the spot Crowley had occupied that night on the couch. He sat with his body pointed towards Crowley, but with his eyes looking down at where his fingers gently worried at his waistcoat.

Crowley didn't know exactly what to do, so he just started speaking, trying to keep the panic out of his voice…

"Angel, I know it isn't enough, but it's all I can think to say… I'm sorry. I was so careless. I shouldn't have snuck up behind you like that, it was so so stupid. I promise I wasn't trying to upset you, I was just trying to give you a… I don't know… surprise? And… of course now that I say that word… surprise… it's so irresponsible of me because you very clearly asked…"

"Crowley, please!"

Crowley was somewhat grateful for the interruption, since his apologies seemed to be going in circles.

"My dear, it wasn't… it wasn't the hug itself that startled me. Well, that is to say it did… startle me that is… your intention of it being a surprise… it was that… a surprise… but not a bad surprise… well, just… oh dear…"

The rubbing at his waistcoat became more frantic, and Crowley's heart continued to sink into his stomach at the sight of it… he felt like they were truly back at square one. With a quick sigh and a stiffening of his upper lip, Crowley tried to see what could be saved of the situation.

"It's alright Angel, you can tell me I screwed up. I know I did, I take full responsibility, and, whatever you need from me, just let me know and I'll…"

"Crowley, love, I just need a moment to tell you what happened. It wasn't your hug that made me tell you to stop it was… um… it was where you put your hands during the hug…"

Crowley was trying to envision what the Angel was talking about… his hands? Where had he put his hands when he hugged him? It had all happened so fast and he wasn't thinking clearly.

Seeing the Demon's confusion, the Angel continued, "When you first put your arms around me it was quite lovely dear. I could feel you leaning into my back and it felt very good, I assure you! But then I noticed your hands were… well… they were in a spot that… um… you hadn't really touched before and, I just felt myself go swimmy in the head and I panicked, and… oh Crowley I'm the one who should apologize, I'm being so silly again after everything new we've been doing these last weeks… I…

"Where did I touch Angel? I can't even see it in my mind, please tell me where…"

"MY STOMACH! Crowley, you… you had your hands on my big, soft, stomach."

The Angel had said the last three words with a tone of disgust in his voice that shook Crowley to his core. His mind began to reel, zooming backwards in time to the night of their 'talk'… 'I'm worried you won't find me attractive' the Angel had said… but they hadn't spoken in detail about the parts of Aziraphale's body he felt were unattractive. The Demon's own stomach sank like a lead balloon as everything fell into place.

Aziraphale was insecure about his body in general, and Crowley had, without consent or forewarning, touched the part of his body he was most sensitive about. He searched for words to say… how would he approach this? This felt so much bigger than talking through the other insecurities Aziraphale had. But before he could begin, Aziraphale continued…

"I know you didn't mean to upset me dear, and I know you probably think it's silly of me to have reacted that way. Like I said a few weeks ago, I know I'm asking so much of you and I just feel awful about all of this and…"

"Angel please please PLEASE stop. You have NOTHING to apologize for. I'm the one who touched you in a place I shouldn't have, I should have thought before I acted, I'm the one who…"

Tears pricked the corners of Aziraphale's eyes as he interrupted, "No my dear don't you see? You didn't do anything wrong, I am the one with the mountain of insecurities to overcome, I should have told you more, I'm the burden, I'm…". He couldn't continue, he just allowed the tears to fall, looking away from Crowley."

Crowley buried his face in his own hands and allowed tears he'd been pushing back to come. He wanted to dash to the Angel's side so they could cry together; hold each other through this crushing moment. But they were frozen in place; Crowley terrified to move, and Aziraphale wracked with guilt over the entire situation.

The Demon took the silence as an opportunity to collect his thoughts… this was a critical moment. He knew he needed to get these words 'right' or he may not be able to save the situation. He did what he did best… he made a list of things he wanted to say to the Angel and tried to steady himself to the point where he could let him know what he was feeling.

"You know how I like lists, Angel?"

The Angel sniffled, but took his hands away from his face to look at his Demon. "Oh, yes dear. I believe I got you a lined notebook for Christmas one year, so you could, well, list your thoughts."

"That's right Angel… I think I have that book somewhere in my flat. Um… Angel I have a list of things I need to say to you. Is it ok if I say them?"

The Angel seemed to calm himself a bit and even brighten at the request.

"Yes dear, I think, I should be able to handle that…"

"Thanks Angel, really. Ok… first… Neither one of us needs to apologize for this. There wasn't any negative or cruel intention behind anything that happened. We just, had some missteps and something unexpected happened for both of us and now we're here. Ok?"

"Yes dear, I can agree with that, even if we both feel terrible about it."

"Of course. Second, we need to talk about the touch between us more. We're very good at permission and consent and talking through steps and mechanics, but we haven't talked much about the things you told me the night of our 'talk.' I need to better understand what your fears are and where they come from and how you want us to progress. You told me you had insecurities about your body, but I never bothered to ask you WHERE on your body those insecurities existed. If I had taken the time to do that, this wouldn't have happened."

"You have to let me take some responsibility for that too my dear. I should have taken the time to tell you… but I've just been so excited lately about how well this has gone, how much I haven't panicked at all that I… well… I didn't think…"

"Let's not worry about what we did or didn't do before, Angel. Let's just make a plan to talk about those things more moving forward. Ok?"

"Alright dear, you're right and we will, even if it's uncomfortable."

"One more thing I need to tell you, Angel…"

"Yes, my dear?"

"You are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen."

Aziraphale's body seized up a bit at this statement, and he looked away as his cheeks grew red. "My dear you don't have to say things like that just because I'm upset, especially false things…"

"Not false! I don't lie to you Angel, I couldn't if I tried. Every piece of you inside and out is so deeply beautiful. You radiate beauty from every part of you. You're worried about me finding you attractive? It should be the least of your worries. Honestly, I think a part of me hugged you the way I did earlier today because I've always wanted to feel your beautiful warm belly against my hands."

Now Aziraphale was truly turning crimson and hugged his arms around himself in a way that made Crowley ache… but he couldn't help but continue… emotion welled up in his voice.

"Aziraphale I can't even begin to list the number of times I have imagined resting my head on your stomach. I imagine how warm and soft it would feel against my face. I imagine resting there as you card your fingers through my hair and rub my scalp, feeling content and safe against you. I imagine turning my head and covering that part of you in kisses, you giggling because I'm tickling your skin. I've thought about it so many times and in such detail. I know it might make you uncomfortable to hear me say it like that Angel, but I swear to you it's the truth."

The Principality seemed to sit up straighter at the Demon's words, his arms less tightly wrapped around his middle. Though he didn't quite know how to respond, he was strangely enthralled by the Demon's description of this sweet fantasy.

"I know there isn't much I can say or do to make you feel as beautiful as you are. That's something we'll need to weather together and something that will become more comfortable with time. But please Angel, please don't think for a second that your belly isn't a part of you that I love and want to touch."

Silence hung between them for a time… not uncomfortable… but filled with anticipation. They seemed to be watching the other process the situation at hand, not entirely sure how to move forward.

Finally, Aziraphale was the one to speak. "My dear, I don't quite know what to say. What I want to say most is that… I love you too. And the… well… um… I suppose the right word is… um… fantasy… oh!" He covered his mouth again, still struggling to find comfort in using certain words to describe their feelings.

"It's alright Angel, I suppose that's what you could call it, yes…"

"The, well, fantasy… you have about resting on my… well, you know… it doesn't sound unpleasant to me. A bit confusing perhaps, but not unpleasant. But I think you are correct that we need to speak in more detail about my insecurities. You're right… if you don't know what they are, then how can we work through them?"

"There's no rush Angel, that conversation can wait for another…"

"There was a piece of your… um… fantasy… Crowley that I found especially interesting…"

Crowley's ears perked up at this admission. "Oh? What was that?"

"Um… well… the part where I run my fingers through your hair? The part where I rub your scalp with my fingertips?"

Crowley felt his mouth go dry. "Um… yeah? What about that part?"

"Well," the Angel seemed to lose some of the tremble in his voice, "That is something I supposed I have, well, fantasized about as well. I've always found your hair quite beautiful, Crowley, no matter the length or style."

It was Crowley's turn to go a bit red. The Angel hadn't really complimented anything about his body up until now, and it made his heart sing to hear the admission.

"Can I tell you what I would like to have happen this evening Crowley?"

"Of course, Angel."

Aziraphale scooted himself to the far edge of the couch, away from Crowley, grabbed the pillow leaning against the arm and placed it on his lap.

"I think I would like you to put your head on this pillow in my lap, and for us to talk a bit about those insecurities I mentioned. And, perhaps while we talk, I will run my fingers through your hair and you can… well… if you really wish… and… please… only after letting me know when you are going to do so first… you can um… lean your head against my, well, belly as you call it."

Emotion welled up in the Demon's whole corporation. He felt tremendous relief mixed with a thundering heart over the prospect of lying in his Angel's lap. He couldn't help but let a small chuckle of pure joy escape his lips.

"You amaze me, Angel. You're so much braver than me. I really appreciate you wanting to talk about these things like this, but I don't want you to be uncomfortable, we can just talk as we are now."

"Honestly, my dear, I couldn't tell you why, just, an instinct I suppose… I truly do think if I can run my fingers through your hair while we talk it will be easier to do so. This is me, well, 'listening to my body and my mind' as you once put it. This is what my body and mind want to do as long are you are amenable."

Crowley didn't need any further encouragement. He stood, crossed to the couch, and gingerly laid his head on the pillow in the Angel's lap, propping his feet on the opposite arm of the sofa. He let a breath of contentment escape his lips, and then a small gasp as the Angel gingerly laid his trembling hand on top of the Demon's head. Aziraphale smiled down at him over the Demon's reaction to his touch.

The Demon knew they had much to discuss, but the Angel's instincts had been spot on… doing it like this made the prospect of this important conversation so much easier.

Demon's head on Angel's lap: CHECK
Angel's hand in Demon's hair: CHECK
Challenging but important conversations about comfort and boundaries: CHECK

Chapter Text

"Is this pressure alright, dear?"

For the better part of 10 minutes, Crowley had been lying nearly boneless with is head on a pillow in the Angel's lap while the Principality carded his hands through the strands of the Demon's fiery red hair. He'd only needed to give minimal instruction and the Angel was giving him the best scalp massage of his existence: blunt manicured nails scratching perfectly at his roots, gentle tugs on his locks, and rubbing with perfect pressure at the back of his neck.

Crowley let out a satisfied sigh that nearly sounded like a hiss. "It'sss absolutely perfect Angel, thank you."

Best scalp massage of the Demon's life: CHECK

He could have stayed there forever, basking in the loving contact and letting his eyes get heavier and heavier towards a second nap of the day; but he knew they needed to continue their conversation from earlier, even if it might break the spell of this perfect moment.

"Um… Angel… lovely as this is… Ohhhh…" Crowley was distracted by an especially amazing scratch Aziraphale was giving him behind his right ear… "I think… we still need to do some talking, yes?"

Aziraphale ceased his scratches for a moment before resuming, a little more absent minded in his actions and with his fingers trembling just a little. "I suppose you're right, dear."

Crowley opened his eyes a crack and looked up. The Angel's face had some worry lines appearing, but he didn't seem panicked… The Demon also noticed that the Angel's hand that wasn't in his hair was trembling slightly against his waistcoat and seemed to be reaching towards him just a bit before retreating back. Crowley decided to take a risk and just ask…

"Angel, do you want to put your other hand on my chest? It's ok if you want to… or don't… up to you… I just see you trembling and I don't want you to be afraid to talk to me. You can hold onto me a bit if you think it will help."

"Oh… I, well… yes… may I please try that dear?"

"Yes, please do."

Aziraphale tentatively reached out and placed his hand on the Demon's chest, just slightly below his collarbones. Crowley smiled and purposefully took a deep breath in so his chest would rise high beneath the Angel's hand before letting out a contented breath and sigh. Aziraphale smiled, and the trembling hand settled fully, his thumb moving ever so slightly back and forth… a new and lovely worry spot. Crowley hoped his heart wasn't beating too fast for the Angel.

"Oh, I think… I think I'm feeling your heart beating my dear." It was as if the Angel had read the Demon's thoughts.

Crowley lifted his right hand, let it hover above the Angel's and looked into his eyes for permission. Aziraphale smiled and nodded and the Demon laid his hand on top, pressing down slightly so the Angel could feel the sensation of his heart even more.

"It's been beating for you for millennia, Angel."

This time Aziraphale's face turned red not from embarrassment but with love. "Oh, my dear, and mine for you… I… I hope you know… despite all this silly… anxiety of mine… please know… I love you so much… I wish this wasn't so…"

"Angel, I promise you, with all that I am, your anxiety isn't silly, and I absolutely know that you love me. We wouldn't be working through all of this if you didn't. There are insecurities I have too, Aziraphale, you're not the only one who frets over things."

The Angel furrowed his brow. "What insecurities do you have, love? You are so clever and have such confidence and, well, you're absolutely beautiful. I can't imagine you being insecure about anything."

Crowley felt sparks shoot through him at the Angel's sweet words, but he also couldn't help but wince a bit. "I'm fallen, Angel. By definition I am a damned thing. I'm not meant to know happiness or joy or love or contentment or care. There will always be a part of me that feels I don't deserve the love you have to give because I was essentially deemed 'unlovable.' I suppose there will always be a part of me that worries you'll realize your terrible mistake in loving the likes of me and move on. Like I said before, the only thing you could ever do to truly upset me is ask me to leave for good… and I suppose I'll worry with each misstep I take that it will be too much, and you'll send me away."

The Angel's hand pressed down on Crowley's chest a bit, and the Demon saw Aziraphale's lips trembling with emotion.

"Oh, my Crowley, please believe me when I tell you I could never imagine casting you away. Ever. I love you so much, and you have been so patient..."

"Only because you've been so brave, Angel. That's another fear I have… I'm… I'm NOT patient, by my nature… you know that. I worry that I WILL get frustrated one day, that I'll push everything we've been working towards backwards."

"Crowley… we… can't promise each other that we'll always say or do the right thing; we are far from perfect. Right? We… we just have to promise that we'll always be honest. That we'll always try our best. Oh… my dear it makes me so sad to hear you speak negatively of yourself in these ways. You're my sweet wonderful Demon and you are EVERYTHING in my eyes."

"It can be frustrating can't it? Trying to convince someone you love of something you know to be true about them, but they can't quite believe you?"

Aziraphale narrowed his eyes at Crowley, as if to give him a quick scold, but thought the better of it…

"Touché, dear."

Crowley gently squeezed the Angel's hand against his chest and smiled warmly at him. They seemed to be learning just how similar they were when it came to their personal challenges and self-esteem.

"I know you don't really want to Angel, but please, tell me more about your insecurities? What's wrong with your stomach?"

Crowley felt the trembling again in the Angel's hand and Aziraphale looked away from his gaze.

Crowley spoke gently yet firmly, "Please Angel, it's like you said, how can I know what you need if I don't know what you're struggling with?"

Aziraphale took a deep breath, nodded and began. "It's something I've always felt I suppose. Even in the beginning of my time on Earth I noticed my corporation was a bit, well, 'bigger' than other Angels. I was rounder and stockier... a bit shorter too. And then, I was, well, here, among the humans, and humans discovered glorious ways to enjoy their time on this planet… and I couldn't help but enjoy food and wine as much as they. And, well, I can't remember exactly when, but at some point, I was having some clothing tailored, and… um…"

Crowley noticed Aziraphale's fingers were no longer stroking his hair, they'd gone nearly still, except for a slight tremble within his locks.

"Don't be scared, Angel, please."

"Well, it was the first time I noticed, the… well… stretch marks. These, horrible, red, ugly lines. I saw them there, in the mirror of the tailor's shop while a shirt I was wearing hung open. I was so horrified I actually miracled my way back here, to my flat upstairs. I have no regular need to take off my clothes you see… so, I hadn't really seen my corporation without clothes in a very long time. I went into my bathroom where I had a mirror and looked at myself. I noticed the marks were other places too. My wide hips and my large thighs. And, I don't know why, but something in my mind told me they weren't supposed to be there. That... I had, wel... failed in some way, by allowing them to appear. I… I don't know that I've looked at myself in a mirror without clothes on since. And… well… I was just starting to get used to it, or at least accept that my corporation was no longer as pristine as it was when it was issued and then… Gabriel…"

Crowley used near miracle-level strength to stay where he was and stay calm at the mention of that hideous name. "What about Gabriel? What did that sniveling bastard say to you?"

"Um… well… he just… confirmed the truth dear… he told me that when I got back to Heaven to fight in the great war for the great plan, I needed to… 'lose the gut' I believe is what he said. And… well… those words just… Crowley? Are you alright? You're shaking…"

"I need to figure out how to get back upstairs to your head office… I just want to talk to have a quick conversation with that useless fucker… preferably with my fists doused in hellfire…"

"Oh, Crowley, please! We just escaped those awful people on both our sides you can't be thinking…"

"I know Angel, I know… I'm just… I'm furious with him… with all of them… none of them deserve to call themselves Angels. How fucking DARE HE even deign to speak to you that way…?"

In his anger, Crowley almost didn't notice Aziraphale had begun rubbing his hand in a gentle circle around the top of his chest. He was still upset, but actually felt himself being soothed as Aziraphale continued.

"I appreciate your words dear… even if they are a bit vulgar" he smiled down at Crowley showing he was only teasing, "But, regardless of what the Angels have said or done, my insecurities are also my own. I don't find those parts of my body attractive, so, I have a very hard time believing anyone else could. I… want you to know… I do want to reach a point where I'm not so insecure that I cannot be touched. Given the things I think we both want to well… explore about each other… it would be quite difficult for me to keep all of those parts of me away from your sight and hands, and well… other parts of you… Oh!"

Aziraphale's hand flew from Crowley's hair to cover his mouth again, slightly embarrassed. Crowley thought it was one of the cutest things he'd ever seen, he almost didn't want those moments to stop.

Crowley allowed a short bit of laughter escape his lips. "Angel, I think about those things too, you know that. I'm just glad YOU'RE thinking about them, and you're willing to try and push past the insecurities that you feel. I think you're beautiful. I'm so looking forward to the day you feel comfortable enough to let me touch more of you, see more of you, all of it. But I can be patient for you… truly… we'll get there when the time is right."

"Thank you dear. You were right yet again… it does make me feel a bit better to tell you these things."

They looked at each other warmly, and Crowley took a moment to just feel the comfort of the Angel's hand on his chest, his head in his lap as he rested. Absentmindedly, he started cracking his knuckles on both hands.

"Goodness!" exclaimed the Angel, "Such loud cracks, dear!"

"Ah, yeah, always been that way for some reason."

"You must carry quite a bit of tension in your hands."

"I'm a tense entity in general, Angel… a 'Tensity' as it were…"

The Angel giggled lightly, "And you say 'I' have a way with words dear…"

"You know Angel, you could say, I'm a Scrummy Tensity."

Aziraphale giggled more at his Demon's words, and Crowley could feel his sweet warm belly bouncing a bit towards the side of his face, making the Demon grin, and also wonder… was it too soon to take another leap?

"Angel, you can absolutely say no, but, you told me to ask… can I… lean my head against your belly… just for a moment? I'll move it away the second you ask…?"

"Um… well… I can't say I entirely understand why… but… you've allowed me to indulge in a fantasy of mine with petting your hair… I suppose you could… um… lean a bit on me…"

With that gentle permission, Crowley leaned his head a few inches to his left, and let the side of his face and head lean against the Angel's belly.

If the Angel was trembling or tense at the moment of contact, he didn't notice. It was better than he'd imagined. Warm, soft, welcoming, alive… almost involuntarily, he let his nose nuzzle against one of the worry spots on Aziraphale's waistcoat, and he glanced up at the Angel, grinning like an idiot and completely blissful.

Aziraphale's face was a bit nondescript at first, but upon seeing Crowley's giddiness, he couldn't help but crack a sweet smile.

"One more thing, Angel, then I'll back away, I swear… can I… can I please just kiss you here? Like I said, it's what I always imagined."

The Angel's smile waived for just a moment… but he simply couldn't resist the Demon's sweet request. "Oh… I suppose one quick kiss there is alright."

With that, Crowley turned his head, gave the waistcoated belly one more quick nuzzle with his nose and planted a kiss just to the side of the little pearl buttons. Even through the fabric and even though the moment was quick, he felt the warmth against his lips and a surge of excitement over the prospect of one day kissing that belly with the clothes out of the way. He could wait… he would wait… the Angel was worth it.

He turned his head away and settled his body on the sofa, closing his eyes in a moment of contentment. He almost didn't notice that the Angel had taken one of his hands in both of his own, and started massaging his thumbs into the palm. The Demon's eyes flew open at the intimate contact and he let out some slight moans at how good it felt. Aziraphale smiled at the little noises he was making.

"To what do I owe this pleasure Angel?"

The Angel chuckled a bit to himself as he continued working his thumbs into various pressure points on the Demon's hand.

"Well dear, you said your hands, along with the rest of you, could get quite tense…"

"I'm a Tensity, Angel… don't forget our new word."

"Right, well, a long time ago, when I first opened this shop, there was a lovely palm-reader and fortune-teller who occupied the upstairs space next door. I joined her for tea on various occasions, just in an effort to be friendly to a fellow business owner, and she occasionally allowed me to watch her give her readings. I don't know that there was any true, well, ability there, but she gave her patrons such lovely massages along their hands as she told them their fortunes that they didn't seem to mind. They were in such a state of bliss over her ministrations they practically threw their money on the table when they left. I think that was her real talent, the hand massages."

Crowley, in a state of bliss, managed to comment, "Bless that woman."

Aziraphale giggled yet again. He was clearly enjoying giving Crowley the massage. He rubbed the joints along his fingers, pulling them and making them crack, working the pads of his fingers into Crowley's own, working little knots of tension out, and letting the sounds of pleasure Crowley made bloom into warmth inside him. When he finished with one hand, he moved on to the next going through the same wonderful motions as before.

"This is incredible Angel, thank you so much... for… everything tonight."

Aziraphale didn't ask for an explanation, he knew what the Demon meant… it had been a challenging conversation, but now they were relaxing more than they ever had, the Angel taking the lead on bringing their touches to new heights.

"Crowley, the um… fortune-teller always ended her readings in a very… well… specific way."

Crowley opened one eye and cocked his eyebrow, "How so, Angel?"

"Well, she would… um… kiss the top of each of their hands and squeeze them."

"Well, Angel, you really should end the massage the way she would have wanted you to… yes?"

With that, Aziraphale lifted the Demon's hand and left a slow, lingering kiss on his knuckles, and then did the same with his other hand. Crowley could have cried from the tenderness of the moment. Both of Crowley's hands now lay on top of his chest, with both the Angel's hands on top… the two of them looking at each other with reverence. It was more perfect than either had imagined the evening could be, considering the way it began.

Angel hands on Demon chest: CHECK
Belly nuzzles and kisses: CHECK
Hand massage: CHECK
Angel kissing Demon hands: CHECK

"Hey, Angel… do you um… mind if I return the favor…?"

Chapter Text

The Angel was so cute when he was flustered.

Crowley never wanted to cause his beloved any distress… but there was something about the blustery way in which he outwardly processed his feelings that just melted the Demon's insides to lava. He had just proposed "returning the favor" after receiving two stunningly perfect massages from his Angel… his head, neck and hands hadn't felt this good in centuries. Aziraphale was clearly trying to decide how he felt about his Demon returning the intimate contact.

"Oh! Oh… well… there's no need dear… I'm perfectly happy to have done these things for you. In fact, I hadn't quite realized… well… it's silly… "

"Angel that is a word we really REALLY need to work on eliminating from your vocabulary."

The Angel sighed, knowing the Demon was right at his over usage of the word, and the act of belittling his own feelings by using it.

"Well, I hadn't quite realized just how good it would feel to… well… do things like this for another being. I mean… well, I've performed countless little miracles, and that always felt good, helping people in what ways I could. But, I never really, well, helped anyone quite like this. Meaning, you were stressed so, I rubbed your hands for you, and, well, I think… you liked it, and it made you feel good, and made, well me feel good too and… Oh! I know I'm not being silly, but I don't think I'm being clear either…"

"Sometimes I just can't handle how bloody sweet you are Angel… it's almost nauseating… Oi!"

Aziraphale gave him a playful hit on his chest as he continued, "I said ALMOST Angel, ALMOST! I think what you're trying to say is that you've been so averse to touch for so long that you didn't realize touch could be an important part of helping others. You… well… told me once that you've seen touch… well… not just touch but sex… be used for harm… and you're not wrong. But, I think those instances have clouded your mind to the fact that those things can also be used with respect and comfort and love. Even I've seen sex be beautiful and my lot isn't really supposed to deal in those sorts of things…"

Crowley looked back up into the Angel's steel blue eyes looking down on him in wonder. "Are you SURE you're a demon dear? This feels like a speech my lot should be giving you…"

"Never said I was a GOOD Demon…"

"But you are dear… you're the BEST Demon. And my best friend, and my best love, the very best… everything... and I don't care how 'nauseating' that might sound to you."

"I love you Angel. Now, I'll ask once more and if you tell me no I'll drop the subject, but… may I please return the favor? I actually have a pretty great massage technique that will liquefy your bones if you'll let me. Those massages you gave me were beautiful, Aziraphale, and it made you feel so good to give them… I just want to switch."

Crowley wasn't surprised by the worry lines that appeared on the Angel's forehead… he knew he would have questions…

"Um, well, I'm not against the idea dear, but, um… is this a massage that would require well… the removal of any…"

"Don't worry Angel, it's something you can stay clothed for. Basically, we would switch places and you'd put your head in my lap… on this pillow is fine." Crowley was trying not to be too eager, he was just so delighted the Angel was taking his offer into consideration. "Just… two recommendations if you'll take them…"

The Angel nodded and the worried expression seemed to soften knowing he wouldn't need to disrobe.

"It isn't completely necessary, so if you're uncomfortable with the idea you don't have to, but it will feel much better if you take off your bowtie and unbutton just the top two buttons of your collar."

The worry lines looked like they were about to return, but instead of fretting, the Angel took a breath and asked, "Um… dear, perhaps I should have asked earlier… what kind of massage is this exactly?"

Crowley paused for a moment, slightly apprehensive. He thought it might be enjoyable for him and the Angel to let the 'kind of massage' be a surprise, but he'd already tried one surprise tonight to disastrous results.

"Well, Angel part of me wants it to be a surprise so you enjoy the sensation without knowing too much ahead of time, but I don't want you to worry. So… What if I tell you that it mostly involves my hands touching your face? Is that something that sounds like it would make you uncomfortable?"

Crowley was mildly shocked to see that the Angel didn't appear worried at all at his suggestion.

"Oh! Well, that actually sounds quite nice dear. Truly! I… um… well, that is to say, this corporation does give me headaches on occasion. I usually miracle them away, or do something medicinal but… perhaps your massage would do something to relieve whatever it is that causes them?"

Crowley smiled up at him warmly, "I would certainly love to try, Angel. Come on now, let's switch spots."

The Demon could have sworn he heard an ever so slight whimper from Aziraphale when he got up… like the Angel was sorry to have his warm Demon leave his lap. He couldn't help but smile to himself and file that moment away to think about later.

Aziraphale also stood and went about following the Demon's recommendations. He gingerly removed his beloved tartan bowtie and unbuttoned the top two buttons on his baby blue button down. Crowley had positioned himself in the same spot as the Angel, but with his back leaning against the arm of the sofa, legs crossed beneath him and the pillow in his lap. He really shouldn't have felt the slight shudder he did at seeing that miniscule patch of skin exposed at the Angel's throat… but seeing him be even the slightest bit vulnerable filled him with excitement for the future. But now it was time to worry less about the future, and more about making the Angel feel good now.

"Crowley, did you, um… elongate my sofa…?"

"Well… err… I just wanted to you be able to stretch out fully, Angel, just want you to be as comfortable as possible and maybe, you know, crinkle your clothes a bit less."

"Oh, darling you didn't need to waste a miracle on my account."

"You're the very best reason I can think of for frivolous miracles, Angel. Now come on, just put your head here on the pillow and I'll tell you more about what I'm going to do."

Aziraphale seemed to have one more moment of hesitation as he looked towards the pillow in Crowley's lap, but when he looked into his eyes that final piece of worry seemed to melt away. He sat on the sofa, put his head on the pillow, stretched his legs out in front of him, and let himself shift around until he felt totally comfortable. Crowley noticed the Angel had kicked off his shoes before laying down to reveal a surprising pair of socks.

"Sushi socks, Angel?"

"Oh! Yes! Don't you like them dear? I saw them in a shop around the corner and thought they were… well… fun! Did you know dear, this shop only sells socks? Just socks! And the place is filled with people all the time… locals… tourists… I had no idea socks were so popular. I remember a time before they even existed…"

Crowley let Aziraphale speak… he knew it was partially because the Angel was nervous. After deciding they would visit the shop together later that week, Crowley placed his hands on either side of Aziraphale's head on the pillow.

"So, Angel, you mentioned the woman who taught you to give good hand massages, well, I once knew a woman who gave incredible head, neck and even face massages. So, those are the parts of you I'd like to touch if that's alright? If I do anything that's uncomfortable, or the pressure is too much or too little, just tell me and I'll stop right away."

The Angel closed his eyes for a moment as if to steel himself, and then opened them, looking brightly into the Demon's face, nodding, "I think that sounds good my dear… I don't think I've had my face, well, touched very much before, other than for a quick kiss 'hello' in greeting… so that will be a… new experience."

"I'm glad you're open to it, Angel, just let me know if you don't like anything I try."

Crowley placed his hands on either side of the Angel's face, and the warmth and gentle pressure of his hands alone made Aziraphale close his eyes and let out a contented sigh. He tucked his fingers under the Angel's head, leaving only his thumbs free, and started brushing his thumbs gently across the Angel's cheeks; from the sides of his nose all the way down to the underside of his jaw. While the thumbs worked on this repetitive motion on his cheeks, gathering more and more pressure, he let the rest of his fingers gently rub little circles into the back of Aziraphale's scalp.

The Angel made lovely, small, contented sounds, 'Ooos' and 'Ahhs,' as he worked his fingers, moving the thumbs to rub at the hinges of his jaw, down his perfect nose, across his chin, the sensitive skin under his eyes, and the pressure points where his jaw met his ears.

Crowley had never seen the Angel so relaxed. His mouth hung open slightly thanks to the massaging around his jaw, and he seemed to be sinking more and more into the sofa as the rest of his body followed suit. At first he thought the thought Aziraphale might be trembling a bit from the touch, but instead it seemed as if a low buzzing energy was coursing through him.

"Oh Crowley… I've… oh… never felt anything this good… this is just… oh it's so wonderful dear…"

When he started rubbing the cartilage of the Angel's ears Aziraphale let out a moan that made Crowley glad there was a pillow in his lap. He let some wicked images enter his mind's eye before pushing said thoughts far to the back of his psyche, and forcing his effort to control itself. 'Don't let those thoughts bubble up now you fool, or this will really be over before it's started,' he thought.

He continued to rub with gentle pressure under the Angel's chin, and then did some feather-light strokes to the side of his neck and top of his throat after getting the Angel's permission. Aziraphale could see why the Demon had wanted him to unbutton his top two buttons since rubbing in that area might have been uncomfortable with his taut bowtie in place.

Crowley then moved up to his temples and forehead, trying quite literally to rub away the worry lines, and then he started repeating a single, one-finger caress from between the Angel's eyes down to the tip of his nose, making his relaxed face and lips curl into a sweet little smile. "That tickles a bit dear," the Angel giggled.

"I'm sorry Angel, shall I kiss it better for you?" He'd meant it as a tease, to maybe rile him up just a bit, but the Angel's face stayed relax.

"You can if you wish Crowley."

The Demon's hands went still for a moment where he'd been rubbing at the top of the Angel's scalp with both hands. He had spent the last few weeks thinking about kissing the Angel everywhere and in every way on his body. He'd already been granted a quick belly kiss, and now had permission to add a nose kiss to the checklist. But before leaning down, a memory occurred to him, and he wanted to see just how far the Angel would allow his comfort to be pushed in a single night…

"Before I do, Angel, remember how the woman who taught you the hand massage said she ended the sessions in a specific way, with the kisses?"

"Yes dear…?"

"Well, the woman who taught me how to do all of this used to end the massages with four kisses."

Crowley had expected Aziraphale to tense up again at the suggestion, but he must have been so relaxed that he merely said, "Four? Hmmm… may I ask where the four kisses are supposed to um… go, dear?"

Now Crowley was the one trembling a bit… this would be the biggest step of the night. "Well, she would do one on the person's forehead, one on each cheek and then one… um… on the um… lips. Just pecks, mind you… as a way to um… well… say 'thank you' for letting her touch them so intimately."

Aziraphale's tremble returned, and Crowley started internally kicking himself in the head.

"Sorry, Angel, I… I'm sorry… I can tell… um… I shouldn't have suggested that… it's too much I know… I'm…"

"Aziraphale took his own hands and laid them on top of Crowley's, which were resting on the pillow on either side of the Angel's head, quieting his rambling."

Despite the tremble in his hands and voice, his brave Angel spoke up… "Crowley, I'm… not against… well… kissing you… on the lips at all. It's just… well… you know how we've been speaking of well… um… fantasies… this evening…"

Crowley was fairly certain that his heart had completely ceased beating, but he managed to nod vigorously at the Angel.

"Well, I have um… certain… well I know it sill- wait no… I'm not using that word anymore… you're right. I just have always, well, imagined our first kiss happening in a very specific way and I'm… well… I'm just not sure this is the right um… moment that I um… fantasized about. Which… now that I think of it… oh Crowley this is so selfish of me… it's your first kiss with me too and this whole relationship shouldn't just be about what I want and… and…"

Crowley slowly, quietly interjected, "Hey… hey Angel… Angel…"

"Oh… um… yes, dear?"

"It's ok. Everything is ok. Nothing you've said has upset me. Truly. I love you. I love that you've thought about our first kiss. I would love to hear you tell me how you want it to be. My fantasy about our first kiss has mostly been about the actual kissing part. The where and the how don't matter as much to me as they do to you and that is fine. We'll reach points where you indulge my fantasies too… you already have indulged one of them tonight, remember?"

"Oh, my dear… I love you so much… thank you. But, there were um… other kisses… um… other places you mentioned… right?"

Crowley chuckled, glad there was still a chance for his lips to make some contact with his Angel. "Yes… how about we finish the massage with one kiss on the forehead, one on each cheek and the final one on the nose to make up for the ferocious tickling I put you through earlier?"

Aziraphale's eyes showed his gratitude for his Demon's playful offer better than his words ever could. He gave him a nod and then closed his eyes in anticipation, raising his head ever so slightly to welcome Crowley's kisses.

As Aziraphale had done with Crowley's hands earlier in the evening, Crowley left sweet, gentle, lingering kisses on each of the aforementioned spots. He hoped his lips weren't trembling too badly as they made contact with the Angel's warm, smooth, perfect sweet-smelling skin. Each kiss felt like a promise for more, the crumbling of a wall and the send up of a prayer of thanks to SHE who had cast him down… down to be with the heavenly creature in his lap.

When the final kiss was finished on the tip of the Angel's gorgeous nose, Aziraphale let a little whimper of joy escape his lips. His eyes glistened with unshed tears as he stared up into the vibrant gold of his Demon love's beautiful gaze.

With a exhale he said, "Thank you my dear," as one small tear of contentment spilled down his cheek. Crowley's eyes looked into the Angel's, but his mind returned to his list…

Angel in Demon lap: CHECK
Face/Head/Neck Massage: CHECK
Forehead Kiss: CHECK
Cheek Kiss: CHECK
Nose Kiss: CHECK
Making the Angel feel so good and safe and loved they cried: CHECK

As they took a moment of comfortable silence, Crowley was suddenly surprised by a deep, full body, shuddering yawn. The Angel couldn't help but chuckle.

"Oh Crowley, it's very late and you must be exhausted. You should really get some rest, dear."

"Couldn't agree more. You know… Angel… I've been meaning to ask you for some time now… do you… have a bed…?"

Chapter Text

The moment the question about the bed left Crowley's lips he regretted it. His corporeal brain started listing again:

1. Touched the Angel on his stomach, almost ruined everything
2. Mostly fixed the problem and kissed said belly
3. Massages and joyfulness for everyone
4. Potentially mucking everything up again by asking to GO TO BED with the Angel

"Oh! Oh, my dear! Oh what you must think of me…"

Crowley was confused, he was waiting for another bout of 'stupid-demon-who-pushes-things-too-far' anxiety from his love but instead, Aziraphale seemed pained in his expression.

"Here I've kept you so many late nights in the last three weeks, some nights after we've been drinking, and I've never offered my own bed upstairs for you to sleep in… I've always just let you go off home on your own. I'm so sorry Crowley, you must think me an absolute beast for never offering to let you stay in my room until you felt comfortable going home!"

Crowley most definitely considered correcting Aziraphale in this situation. The Angel had never upset him by ending their evenings with them going their separate ways. Crowley liked his flat and very much liked his own bed and his own space. Such preferences did not negate his love for his Angel and his desire to spend more time with him. BUT…

Crowley wanted Aziraphale to become more comfortable with the idea of engaging in one of the Demon's favorite pastimes… SLEEP… and he decided to take just a tiny bit of advantage of the Angel's distress over not inviting him to use his bed to start easing him into the idea of the two of them sleeping together.

"It's alright Angel…" he said with a bit of a yawn… "Um… not to impose, but if you do have a bed, I'm feeling especially sleepy tonight. Could use a miracle to make myself more ready for the drive home though… I wouldn't want you to…"

"That is absolute nonsense Crowley! You are more than welcome to sleep here any time you wish. Please just allow me to quickly head upstairs and ah… freshen up the room for you, shall I? It really is no trouble my dear."

Crowley let out a tiny whimper of protest, but the Angel was already dashing up the stairs.

Moments later the Demon let out a small chuckle as he sensed Aziraphale using a couple of minor miracles up there. Crowley was guessing a change of sheets, removal of dust, and the organizing of several dozen piles of books was involved in the process. Ironic, given that the Angel had just protested Crowley miracling himself awake so he could drive home to his own flat. He also found it funny that they were both dancing around the idea of him staying overnight at the bookshop because they both wanted him to, instead of coming right out and talking about it.

After a few minutes, Aziraphale called down to Crowley, "Come on upstairs dear!"

Crowley felt his heart fluttering slightly with anticipation as he climbed the stairs and found himself feeling less and less tired and more excited with every step.

When he opened the door he was met with a hallway. He glanced to the left and saw what looked to be a small but cozy kitchen opening up into a dining area. To the right, he saw the doorways to a couple of rooms, one of which had a lovely bright glow coming from just inside.

"Down here to your right dear!"

Crowley's heart continued to beat faster as he walked down the hallway towards the glow. In all the time the Angel had owned the bookshop he'd never been invited upstairs and had genuinely no idea what to expect. He walked through the doorway and his breath caught in his throat.

The room was larger than he thought it would be, and every square inch of space on all four walls, save for the door and two large windows on either side, was made of shelving. Books and papers and knickknacks and tchotchkes filled in the little spaces in between. In the corner to his left was a big arm chair, just as large and loved as the one downstairs by the couch, a Tiffany stained glass lamp lit a gentle and slightly multicolored light into that section of the room. The only other light came from some large but well-contained candles on two dark wooden nightstands, which stood on either side of a surprisingly large bed.

The headboard was a gorgeous carved oak; stained a darker color than Crowley would have thought. The bedding was tartan, because of course it was, but the pattern was more subdued than Crowley thought it would be: heather greys and a touch of forest green and navy blue. But the best part of this glorious bed? The stunning, lovingly hand-carved pattern of wings in the headboard. It was more beautiful than Crowley could have imagined.

It was a room that fully embodied his Angel. It sang of comfort and softness and gentle light. It made Crowley ache with the loveliness of it, he felt so honored to have been invited into this sacred space.

The Angel appeared concerned by Crowley's lack of language. "Is it… um… alright my dear? I can um, change it around a bit if you…"

"No! I mean, sorry Angel, didn't mean to shout. I just… it's so… it's perfect."

Aziraphale beamed at Crowley's words. "Oh…oh good. I'm so glad. I didn't know if you'd like the candles, but I remember seeing some in your flat and thought you might like them. But… well… you know… feel free to blow them out if you wish."

The idea that Aziraphale would light candles in a room full of his most precious books, the ones he wouldn't even allow downstairs for customers to potentially see, just so Crowley would feel more comfortable in his bedroom added to the sweet ache inside him. He wanted to kiss him. With every fiber of his being.

"I think it might be the loveliest bedroom I've ever been in Aziraphale."

"Oh Crowley, that is VERY high praise coming from you… I know how much time you used to spend at Versailles!"

"All the palaces of the world have nothing on this Angel. It's pure comfort. I can't wait to sleep here."

"Ah, well then, I will leave you to it! Oh, um, do you need um… pajamas dear?"

Crowley reached his hand down towards his feet and with a lifting motion of his hand, adding a bit of flourish to make the Angel smile, changed his dress into a pair of black silk pajamas. It was not unlike the trick Aziraphale had pulled many years ago in the Bastille, and the Angel couldn't help but giggle at the Demon's actions.

"Very nice, Crowley." The Angel seemed to be blushing a bit in the light from seeing the demon in his pajamas, even though he was actually dressed more modestly like this than he was in his scintillatingly tight jeans. "Well, I suppose I should say goodnight then and let you get some rest. The bathroom is across the hall should you need it for anything and I'll be right downstairs if you need me."

Crowley smiled at the Angel, but, without his glasses, he didn't have the ability to shield the slight disappointment that betrayed his gaze.

"Is something the matter dear?" Aziraphale asked with concern.

"No, Angel, not at all, this really is so lovely. I just… I don't know… it feels strange after the night we've had to... well be without you. That's all. It's nothing, really, I just need to rest. You do what you need to do, and I promise I'll just sleep for a few hours. We'll get breakfast in the morning and everything will be fine."

Aziraphale looked at him inquisitively, not entirely sure what to say in the slightly awkward moment. The Angel didn't seem to know what he was asking, and to honest, Crowley wasn't sure either. He did NOT want to ask the Angel to get in bed. He knew better than that, it was just too soon and Aziraphale didn't normally sleep anyway. That seemed like a very intimate step, even to the Demon.

After a moment, the Angel's face softened as he looked into his best friend's golden eyes. "Well, my dear, how about I sit in my chair over here and read for a bit? Just until you fall asleep? We can talk a little more if you'd like…"

Crowley beamed back genuinely, "I really like that idea Angel, thank you."

"Good. Well, go on then dear, climb on in, make sure the mattress is to your liking."

"I'm sure it will be Angel. Um… may I k… um… hug or… something… you goodnight before I get in?" The Demon used to be so suave before the world almost came to an end… at least he thought so… now he was a blundering lovesick fool who didn't know how to properly ask for a bit of affection before bedtime without sounding ridiculous.

But his brilliant lovely Angel saved the moment. He walked up to Crowley and circled his arms confidently around his waist. Comfortably resting his head against the Demon's chest. Crowley threw his arms around him and met the tightness of his Angel's embrace. A few hours before, Aziraphale had shouted in discomfort over a hug… to be embraced so fully and trustingly by him again made Crowley feel tremendous relief.

"I'd like to kiss the top of your head, Angel, and then each of your cheeks before I climb into this glorious bed."

Aziraphale chuckled against him. "I'd be amenable to that my dear."

Crowley kissed the top of the Angel's head, allowed his downy curls to tickle his nose as he nuzzled them slightly. He then pulled away, bringing his hands up to gently cup the Angel's face as he planted the two promised kisses on his cheeks. When he pulled away Aziraphale's eyes were shining in the candlelight. "My, turn? My dear?"

Crowley couldn't help but let out an audible, slightly longing sigh. "Please, Angel."

Aziraphale stood up a little straighter, taking Crowley's own face in his hands. He pulled him down a bit to place a tender kiss on his forehead, before moving on to his cheeks, "And one more for your nose love. Now go on, climb on in."

Crowley was almost dizzy with the affection from Aziraphale; he nearly lost his footing as he pulled away and peeled back the covers. Aziraphale watched as he climbed in and smiled when the Demon gave out an audible sigh.

"Now that, Angel, is a comfy bed. Well done."

"Oh, I'm so glad dear. Now let me just…" Aziraphale turned towards the shelves and suddenly stopped. He was frozen in his tracks, and Crowley actually saw his right hand begin to tremble slightly. Crowley felt his stomach drop. He was certain that Aziraphale was about to change his mind. This was too much… he'd known it… all he had done all night long was push.

"Angel, it's alright, you don't have to stay with me while I'm sleeping if you don't want to. I mean… I don't even need to stay here tonight, I'm perfectly capable of getting home it's no…"

"No… no my dear… you… you misunderstand. I, um…" the Angel turned back to him and Crowley could see in his eyes he was trying to be brave again.

"I don't want to sit in this chair and read while you sleep here, Crowley."

Crowley's stomach sank even more. "I completely understand, it's fine… I'll…"

"I want to be in the bed with you while you sleep here."

Crowley had no words, he was just so surprised. Then again, his wonderful Angel had been surprising him for three weeks… well…. more like 6000 years…

The demon tried his best not to let his voice shake. "Oh… um… sure, yeah, please… I'd… you can climb in with me Angel."

"I want to, really." But he still stood in place, not moving forward to join him in the bed. "Oh Crowley, I don't know why this makes me nervous. It's like the other night when we were having a cuddle on the couch watching a film and then I got all nervous later about us hugging. Here we spent half the night in each other's laps and the idea of getting into bed is somehow… oh… I don't know… but I want to… so why am I…"

Crowley stood from the bed and crossed to his anxious Angel, holding out a hand for him to take if he so wished. He did.

"Angel it's like we've talked about, and like we'll keep talking about for as long as you need. You never know what is going to trigger your anxiety… nor am I… we'll always be a bit surprised. The only thing we can do is listen to what you need in each moment and make sure you never ever just do something because you think I want to. That's not what, well, that's not what lovers do."

"Lovers? Oh Crowley… we haven't even had our first kiss… well… KISS… you… still feel that word applies?"

Crowley tried not to let himself be saddened by the Angel's words... though he knew he meant no harm in them.

"Angel, this hand I'm holding feels like love. Every action, every touch, every moment spent with you these last few weeks has made me feel more loved than I thought capable. Of course you're my lover. Love doesn't just mean playing with each other's dangly bits…"

"Crowley!"

"Angel I'm sorry, I keep telling you I'm not the one who has a way with words here! Look… you know what I mean, right?"

The Angel's smile was warm as ever as he squeezed Crowley's hand and reached to take his other one. Crowley was then surprised to have the Angel pull him closer, leaning in until their foreheads gently pressed together.

"I do know what you mean, dear. Yes, you are right that I'll never know what will give me the most anxiety until it is happening, and that the things that make me anxious may diminish over time. I'm sorry I tried to just, run back down the stairs and ignore my feelings earlier. I think I got anxious because, perhaps… two people… well in our case entities… in bed is something that often leads to well… lovemaking… which… I think you know I'm not ready for… and even though I know you'd never push me… I …"

"It's still a big deal, Aziraphale… I get it, I do…"

Before he could finish, Aziraphale let go of his hands and backed away. Using the same 'trick' Crowley had earlier and with extra flourish, the Angel changed into a pair of white silk pajamas, identical to Crowley's. He blushed a bit as well, being dressed this casually around his friend, but the pajamas were still modest enough that the Angel didn't seem to be experiencing any anxiety about his body dressed this way.

"Well, my dear… lets um… get into the bed… and… we can talk more perhaps… I'm… oh I'm sorry I don't know how one does this…"

"Angel, I'm genuinely happy you just want to get in bed with me. And, you look lovely in those pajamas, just seeing you like this is so nice. And, I know you don't sleep much so, feel free to grab a book for when I do nod off so you're not bored."

Aziraphale smiled at the Demon's thoughtfulness. "You're so sweet dear… though… I imagine at least an hour or so of my time could be taken up watching you rest."

"You want to watch me sleep Aziraphale? That's so… sweet… or maybe it's creepy… maybe it's both of those things…Oi!"

A palpable smack to his shoulder showed that some of the tension over the moment had been relieved.

With that, and after Aziraphale had selected a book to place on one of the nightstands for later, the two climbed onto the bed. Crowley, cold-blooded creature that he was, slipped under the covers and laid down on his side, while Aziraphale laid on top and fluffed some pillows against the headboard so he could sit upright but still look down at his beloved Demon.

Leaning foreheads together: CHECK
Copious goodnight kisses: CHECK
Seeing each other in pajamas: CHECK
Lying in bed together: CHECK

Crowley was loving these unexpected additions to this list.

"So, Angel." The Demon let out a huge yawn as he settled more into the bed. "Tell me a bit about the fantasy you mentioned earlier. Your, well, our, first kiss. I assume it's a big production number, yes? What do I need to procure? A mariachi band? Dolphins? Do I need to figure out how to shut down the Eiffel Tower for a day?"

The Angel giggled at the sweet suggestions, but then stared off a bit into the corner of the room. His expression wasn't sad, just deeply contemplative, as if he was working through a catalogue of thoughts.

"You know my dear I certainly have thought of many grand possibilities. Many of my, well… recent fantasies… have actually been imagining kissing you at different times in our history together."

Crowley noticed the Angel was rubbing at the corner of his silk nightshirt with his finger and thumb. He was concerned about the Angel getting anxious again, but he seemed steadfast in finishing his thoughts.

"I've thought about kissing you during that first rainstorm under my wing, and after that glorious dinner we had in Rome when I introduced you to oysters. I thought about kissing you in our suits of armor under a beautiful tree in those misty forests, and during a performance of 'Hamlet' at the Globe. I should have kissed you after you saved my books, and in your car in Soho, and on that airstrip in Tadfield. So many missed opportunities for a first kiss that would belong in one of my books, eh?"

The rubbing of the pajama fabric was a bit more frantic, but the Angel's voice held strong. Crowley couldn't help but notice Aziraphale seemed to be letting his body sink down a bit so he was closer to Crowley's level, as Crowley propped himself up more and more to meet the Angel's gaze.

"And, I was up here, preparing the room for you to come up... and I know it was only a few minutes, but I thought through all of those missed kisses, and thought through all of the ideas I had for "storybook" first kisses we could have. On a beach with crashing waves, during dinner at the Ritz, on a picnic on top of a mountain, while dancing at the Savoy, or even something simple like… well… feeding the ducks by the pond in St. James, or, on a drive to Tadfield to visit Adam."

The two of them were level now… half propped up on pillows, laying on their sides, less distance between them in the huge bed than Crowley had previously thought, the gorgeous carved wings on the headboard of the bed framing their fragile corporations beautifully. Crowley was shaking a bit more than the Angel seemed to be… because he couldn't quite believe where he thought this conversation was going…

"And, in the back of my mind I keep thinking… how well… I'm sorry dear but, how SILLY all of that is. Really! Because, all of my fantasies about our first kiss are either things in stories, and we know stories never really match up with reality, or… missed opportunities from our past. Why try to recreate something from the past the way we 'should' have done it? Everything we have been through has lead us here, to this point. To you and me, here in this bed. I know 6,000 years of us pining over the other wasn't always pleasant, but I don't really regret anything… because all of it has brought us here… and…. umm…well... Anthony J. Crowley?"

"Aziraphale, Angel of the Eastern Gate?"

"What um… say you… to our um… first kiss being in this comfortable bed, candles lit, and… oh, the sun starting to rise outside my window there?"

The sun may have been coming up, but Crowley suddenly had stars in his eyes, and his heart thundering in his chest and ears. He had no words, but he forced some out, needing to punctuate this moment he'd dreamed about for so long.

"I… I can't think of anything more perfect, romantic, sweet, stunning, and any other lovely adjective under creation… Angel. Please, yes, let's kiss?"

Aziraphale let go of the corner of his pajamas, and both of them shifted towards one another in the bed. Their bodies didn't touch, save for Crowley's hand rising to Aziraphale's cheek and Aziraphale's hand settling the juncture of Crowley's neck and shoulder, but they could feel an almost celestial heat radiating off of one another. They both trembled slightly, looking into each other's eyes… the blue of the ocean and the fire of the earth, staring, as they finally leaned in, touching their lips together in a gentle, sweet, lingering kiss.

Neither had realized lips were capable of being so soft. They both let out small muffled sighs of the joy of it. The kiss was chaste but electric, full of sparks and the firing of nerves. That first kiss lead to a few more chaste pecks on upper lips and lower, corners of mouths, and then cheeks and tips of noses, and back to lips, playful giggles bubbling up to the surface as the kisses continued, until they pulled away from each other, laughing in pure euphoria.

They didn't speak as their laughter died down but didn't need to. They didn't need to ask if the kiss had been good. The looks they gave each other and their pink glistening lips said it all. They just took the time to calm their breath, clutching hands and relaxing into the bed. Finally, Crowley was the one to break the blissful silence.

"That was better than storybooks Angel. I hope you felt it too."

"Oh my dear, NOTHING from the past or future could have topped that. Oh… my dear… the sun is coming up behind your head and you look so beautiful."

"The morning light looks good on you too Angel."

"Dear, why don't you get some sleep now. We'll have some lunch when you wake… how does that sound?"

"Perfect, but with one small addition."

"And that is…"

"Before I sleep, may I have one more kiss to say 'good morning'?"

The Angel obliged with an impossibly tender peck on the Demon's lips.

"Good morning, Crowley."

 

First KISS kiss: CHECK

Chapter Text

For two weeks, the two celestials knew nothing but absolute bliss.

They fell into a domestic routine that they hadn't known they wanted, but somehow had always craved.

In the daytime, there was kissing. Kissing that put the previous hand-holding and hugging to shame… Crowley could barely track the list of CHECKS in his head anymore and considered actually picking up a pen and journaling his 'Touch/Intimacy List'…

Face kisses: CHECK
Head kisses: CHECK
Hand kisses: CHECK
The Angel planting a kiss on the Demon's chest where his corporeal heart fluttered in the middle of a hug: CHECK
Nose nuzzles: CHECK
Short kisses: CHECK
Long kisses: CHECK
The Demon planting a kiss on the Angel's adam's apple, which the Angel wasn't sure if he liked or not because it tickled and flustered him, but they could try it again sometime: CHECK
Morning kisses: CHECK
Evening kisses: CHECK
Midday kisses: CHECK
Kisses just because: CHECK
Sneaky kisses behind the bookshelves avoiding customers: CHECK
Loud kisses: CHECK
Quiet kisses: CHECK

And… most scandalously…

Kisses where the demon gently ran his tongue over the Angel's bottom lip eliciting a shiver: CHECK

In the nighttime, there were still kisses, but there was something even more wonderful, at least to Crowley… there was BED. Oh, the time they spent in bed… and the items on the list that were checked off during those blessed hours…

Angel reading to the Demon in bed: CHECK
Demon telling the Angel funny stories in bed: CHECK
Holding hands in bed: CHECK
Playing footsie with their bare feet in bed: CHECK
Angel petting the Demon's hair, cheek, jaw, shoulder, arm until they feel asleep: CHECK
Demon waking up to Angel reading next to him in bed, smiling and kissing him good morning: CHECK
Staying in bed together all day: CHECK
Kissing in bed until the sun went down: CHECK
Kissing in bed until the sun came up again: CHECK
Demon sleeping all night with head in the Angel's lap: CHECK

One could call it Heaven… but since they'd both spent time in that specific location… they knew what they had was so much better. Their own side, their own world, tucked into tartan sheets and gazing at each other in pure contentment. They would wake up, have breakfast, go about their business, always returning to each other at night for kissing, cuddles, more kissing, talking, and then Crowley falling asleep and Aziraphale staying up to read. Repeat.

It was an incredible two weeks.

And then… something shifted…

Aziraphale started to look, to Crowley anyway, a bit lost.

Anyone who knew the Angel on the surface would likely never notice it. But Crowley knew his best friend/lover/reason for being far better than anyone or anything else in the universe. He knew when something was up.

Aziraphale stayed as affectionate as ever, but there was something deep down in his gorgeous blue eyes that seemed just slightly distant, just slightly sad, just slightly concerned. Crowley would gently ask if anything was the matter and the Angel almost always immediately snapped out of it, kissing him and just telling him about some trivial thing that was on his mind.

Crowley chose not to push, admittedly, out of cowardice. There was a part of him that was afraid that if they talked about it, the affection would stop, and he so desperately didn't want it to stop. The Demon had insecurities of his own in this new 'arrangement', and part of him was so deeply afraid that despite the Angel's declarations of love, he might leave him or break off this new romantic endeavor if they talked through what was troubling him.

Despite the risk it posed to talk it out, wanting to clear the air gnawed at Crowley's chest. As the third week of their kissing and sleeping routine went on, he found himself enjoying their affection less and less. Those slightly troubling looks behind the Angel's eyes simply didn't cease.

***

Finally, one night, while Crowley was tucked down under the covers about to sleep, he peeked up at the Angel while he read in bed. He could see in Aziraphale's gaze that he wasn't really reading the words on the page, he was just staring, clearly sorting through thoughts in his head. Crowley was about to just shrug it off and try to sleep, but then he heard it… the Angel let out a very soft and very sad sigh. That was it.

Crowley popped up in bed looking at Aziraphale intently, startling the Angel a bit.

"Oh! My dear… are you alright? Is something the matter?"

It was Crowley's turn to take a steeling breath before speaking, trying not to let his voice tremble with nerves. "No, Angel, I'm… well… yes, actually there is something the matter. I'm, um…" he could see in the Angel's face that nervousness was seeping in and he saw his fingers trembling slightly on top of the page of his book, but he summoned his courage… they needed to work this out, no matter the consequences. He needed to be as brave as Aziraphale.

"I'm worried… about you… Angel. You um… you've seemed a bit, I don't know what the word is. Troubled? Maybe? I've um… I've noticed it for about a week now and I didn't want to say anything. I guess… I've… I've been afraid that if I said anything you would get upset. Or, maybe ask me to leave, or maybe tell me that I've been making you uncomfortable and that this has been too much and I just…"

"Oh… oh my dear… I'm so so sorry. I… I haven't meant to worry you… Please let me explain…"

The Angel's gaze had suddenly changed from troubled to determined… it was as if he'd been waiting a long time for Crowley to say something about the last week of their lives. Crowley also noted that it was usually Aziraphale who talked his way through his feelings only to have the Demon stop him and calm him down. It was not lost on Crowley that the roles had been reversed. He was pleased to hear a delicate sweet tone in the Angel's voice.

"I.. um… admit my dear that I have been a bit well… distracted as of late."

"To be honest Angel, you've well… seemed a bit, well… sad too? I don't know. I know I should have pushed more and asked you what was wrong… but…"

"But you were nervous about what I would say?"

The Demon really perked up at that. He couldn't help but give a small relieved smile. He had to remind himself that his Angel knew him just as well as he knew his Angel.

"Um… yeah. Actually."

"I know my dear… and… like so many things in these last few weeks I've just been… well afraid to talk about what I want and what I'm… worried about."

"You might have fears Angel, but you have been so brave… I was just thinking I should have been braver like you and pushed you to tell me what was wrong."

Aziraphale reached his hand out to Crowley which was quickly taken by the demon. The Angel's thumb rubbed across Crowley's knuckles the way he worried at his clothes, but he continued.

"You've done nothing wrong my dear. I love you so much and I'm so grateful to you for all the grace and kindness you've shown me. Dare I say it but… you've been exceptionally… NICE to me…"

"Oi!"

The Angel giggled at the Demon's mock anger and relaxed his frantic thumb a bit. "My dear all of this has been so wonderful. Kissing you and being with you in bed and our hugs and our touches… it's all become so well… comfortable, really… so much faster than I imagined. And… well… I've been well, thinking a bit about how we um… move… well… forward… from here. Do… you know what I mean?"

The Demon had a pretty good idea.

All of this intimacy, kisses included, had remained very chaste, very sweet, and Crowley understood why. He knew that once they went into a full-on snog… especially in bed… it would be harder to stop moving on to… well… other things. He and the Angel had communicated about this a bit before, and it was clear that for many reasons the Angel still wasn't quite ready to move beyond these new intimate 'activities' of theirs. Or… was he?

"Yes, Angel… I think so. Um… I think you mean that you like all of this, but, more than this means… well… a LOT… more? I mean… the next stages of touch between us would become a whole lot more um… risqué… maybe that's the word…?"

"Yes! Yes dear that's um… exactly it. I know that we both have um… well… Efforts… oh…"

The Angel nearly did that thing where he brought his hand up to his mouth at the 'scandal' of his words… but stopped himself. Not getting embarrassed talking bout sex was something he was trying to work through... along with all his other insecurities with Crowley and their physical relationship.

The Angel continued, "And… I think… just about anything else we do would um… oh goodness… 'excite' those Efforts… oh my…"

This time the hand did come up to his mouth in a bit of embarrassment. Crowley considered in this brief moment telling the Angel the truth… that all kinds of things they'd been doing together had 'excited' his Effort already… and that he'd been in a near constant state of sending off minor miracles to make his Effort behave itself over the last six weeks.

But seeing the state the Angel was in and the fragile subject matter, he opted to keep his mouth shut about that fact… he felt he and the Angel were on the brink of something big.

"I um… I don't think you're wrong about that Angel. In my experience anyway, you're um… quite right that things tend to um… escalate a bit. But… why don't you try to tell me what you think you want? What do you think the next step needs to be? Because I really am completely happy with where we are now, Angel. I love kissing you and sleeping next to you and I'm sure we can come up with other ways of getting closer that you're comfortable with."

The Angel looked at him with a somewhat pensive smile. He nodded a bit, and still seemed unsure of himself. "I'm sure, my dear… but… as I've said from the beginning… I do WANT to do all kinds of things with you… but I'm not sure where to begin and not sure where my comfort level will be once we do begin… and I well… don't want to um… what's the word… 'frustrate' you should I oh… I don't know if I'm making sense again…"

"You are, Aziraphale, I promise you are… look. You don't need to worry about 'frustrating' me, alright? I promise. It will never ever matter how, um… in the mood or… well… aroused I am… you stay stop and I will stop. I will never get an ounce of pleasure out of you being upset or in pain or anything of the like. Ok? Please tell me you believe me when I say that, Angel?"

"I… yes… Crowley, I absolutely trust you. But… that doesn't mean that I wouldn't potentially feel awful about… um… stopping you… once something has begun."

"Angel none of this is guaranteed to go smoothly. Sex and relationships are um… a messy business… literally and figuratively." The Demon couldn't help but flash a minutely wicked smile at this Angel, for which he received a very much appreciated eye roll, bringing some levity to the difficult conversation. "We've already had some missteps… and we will probably have more… but… we just have to keep talking and do our best. Eh?"

"Of course, dear… you're right. And as always it makes me feel better to talk about it. But… now I'm not sure what to do next. I'm still feeling, as though, I want… well… something more… but I still don't know what we should, well… do…?"

"Um, well, we can… snuggle a bit more in bed than we already do… we could 'spoon'… do you need me to explain…"

"I do have books dear, I do know what spooning is… and… yes that sounds nice but um… it probably means quite a bit of contact with um… my belly and my um… thighs…"

"Say no more, Angel, I know you aren't really ready for me to touch you that much in those um… places. Um… you know..."

"Y-yes dear…"

A thought was formulating Crowley's head, and it terrified him to bring up. He genuinely had no idea how the Angel would react… but as he flashed through various scenarios in his head, it was what made the most sense; so, he took a page from the Angel's book of bravery and dove in…

"Well, Angel… we've talked quite a lot about how touch is difficult for you, yeah? That… this is why we've been taking things nice and slow, we need to build you up to the 'touch parts' of this relationship… yeah? But um… ever heard that phrase "look don't touch?"

"Well of course dear, goodness if I could get away with putting up signs that say that in the bookshop you know I… Oh… OH!... oh, you mean… do you… mean what I think you mean…?"

The tremble was back in the Angel's fingers, but it certainly wasn't the worst Crowley had seen.

"Angel do you… do you think if maybe we… um… SAW more of each other… if we just… took some time to well… look but not touch… it… it might take some of your worry away?"

The Demon wanted to backpedal almost immediately… the Angel's hand, which was still in his own, almost instantly became clammy and instead of rubbing at his knuckles, simply gripped him tightly as he began to breathe a bit more heavily, his eyes darting around.

But he didn't backpedal… he knew he needed to at least try to press forward… not to pressure him, but to encourage him… there was a difference, as subtle as it may have seemed.

"Angel, I know. It's scary. Everything you are feeling is completely justified. I've just asked you to confront something that I know makes you so nervous and uncomfortable. Angel? Aziraphale? Can you look at me? Please?"

The Angel's grip on his Demon remained, but he did turn and lock his eyes on him… giving a slight nod to continue and that he was still with him.

"Angel. I know this seems so big, but… in some ways… I think what I'm asking is the key to everything… I think we might be on the brink of something. I know you've said you're worried about your lack of experience, and your fears about sex being painful and awkward... but you've been working through those things so beautifully. We've communicated pretty well about what you want to do and try and, for someone who has only been doing it for two weeks, you're a phenomenal kisser."

Aziraphale tutted a small laugh at that, letting his lips curve into a small smile.

Crowley continued, "But… the thing I know you're worried about the most is your insecurity about your body. Am I right?"

Aziraphale turned his eyes away for a moment and let out a small, slightly pained "Yes."

Crowley felt an ache in his chest like the one he'd felt a few weeks ago when he's touched the Angel's stomach… but he pressed forward… the lessening of Aziraphale's sharp grip on his hand was encouraging.

"Tell me, Angel, what are you most afraid of? I mean this, truly… what in your imagination is the worst thing that could happen if I saw you without your clothes?"

The Angel looked back at him quite sharply as if he was ready to bite back with his response… but then… he paused… allowing a more contemplative look to spread across his face.

"Well… dear… I… well… I suppose… I imagine you will see me, and you… well… won't find me attractive."

"Angel not to be glib, but do you actually truly think there's a possibility I am going to see your naked body, scream and run out of the bookshop into the night?"

A small flash of shock came over the Angel's face at his words and then it was Crowley gripping the Angel's hand more tightly.

"Not to make light, Aziraphale, I swear that's not what I'm trying to do here. I just… you are so so SO beautiful… and I'm not going to say 'to me' because that is dismissive of your beauty to say it's only in my eyes. I want so badly to see you, all of you, and for you to be comfortable enough to take a leap and let me. I am so deeply in love with you. You're worried I'm not going to be attracted to you when you're naked? You want to know what I'm worried about?"

"What, dear?"

"I'm worried there are parts of my body YOU won't like!"

At first, the Angel maintained the shocked expression, and then a sadness bloomed in his eyes.

He sputtered, "But! My dear… I think… I'm certain I've told you, even before this new arrangement of ours how attractive you are… you're STUNNING my dear… you…"

"I'm BONY, Angel. I'm all hard lines and flat, straight planes, hardly a curve to me. I can't imagine I'm all that pleasant to cuddle with…"

Crowley was as nearly surprised as his Angel that these honest, vulnerable words were coming out of him. He was a Demon, and a sexually experienced one. Some of that had come with the job, and some from his own want and choice knowing the Angel would always be off limits… and he knew he fit a physical ideal that many found attractive… but there had always been a part of him that worried he wasn't the physical ideal for Aziraphale. He'd had no idea before these last few weeks that he was the Angel's type, and despite the Angel's love, he wasn't completely confident that Angel would like what he saw when he shed his clothes either.

"Look. Aziraphale, let's just agree to this... We both have insecurities. And we are never going to begin to get over those insecurities until we face them… literally. Let's just… take a look at each other. We can worry in the back of our own minds that the other of us will run, and know in our hearts that we would never run from each other because we're just too fucking attracted to and in love with each other… eh?"

Aziraphale looked into his Demon's eyes for what felt like a century… but Crowley did notice that they relaxed their grip on each other's hands. Both were emotional… tears brimming… but there was a steadfastness to both of their gazes… they both seemed to know this was as good a plan as any to push past their insecurities.

"Alright." His brave Angel gave him a genuine, affirmative nod. "I… I think you might be on to something Crowley. Yes, I'm… well… still scared… but I also think… well… when you're scared you need to face your fears. And… I think I could be ready to face you… with all that I am. I… still have worries about you seeing me… but… I also know that… I… oh goodness. I can say this… I CAN… I also… I want to see you, too. Oh!"

There was the hand to his mouth again, and Crowley just couldn't help his elated bark of laughter that came with the action.

"Angel… did you just say you want to see me with my clothes off? Maybe even as much as I want to see you?"

Aziraphale smiled shyly… hand still firmly clamped over his mouth as he gave an almost imperceptible nod.

"Right then," said the Demon, "how shall we do this?"

"Oh, um… well… I…"

"Aziraphale I'm the one who came up with this plan, but I want you, if you feel you can, to tell me how you want to do it. Is… there a way to try this that will be less anxiety-inducing than another?"

Crowley had expected a tremble to come from the Angel, giving him this control, but it actually seemed to embolden him a bit.

"Well… my dear… that's a good question. I… I don't know that we should do it while lying in this bed… something about that just makes me feel… uncomfortable… I'm not sure…"

"You don't need to explain, Angel, it's fine… being naked in a bed together is not a step we need to take tonight."

"Thank you dear. Well… I guess we could…"

"Strip poker? I was just thinking the same thing Angel… Oi! You know what Angel, you smack me A LOT!"

They both took a moment to giggle at one another… the Demon's joke had been silly, but it definitely broke the tension. It had also been a bit of an inspiration apparently, because Aziraphale's eyes suddenly opened very wide, as if remembering something very important.

"You know, Crowley, this would not actually be the first time we were naked together!"

Crowley pondered a moment and then a memory came flooding back to him. "Of course, the Roman Baths… we were just talking about it a couple of weeks ago weren't we?"

"Yes dear… well… it was a long time ago… and it was very foggy and steamy in those baths so, I don't believe we got too much of a clear look at one another."

"True, shame really…" the Demon gave a little devilish wink at his love, still trying to bring some levity.

"Anyway dear, I have hardly used it since I got it… but… I do have a rather large… um… bathtub across the hall."

Crowley suddenly became very excitable… to the point where he knew he had to temper his enthusiasm so as not to spook his Angel out of this BRILLIANT idea.

"I love baths Angel. Big bathing fan, me… maybe as much as you love your crepes. I have a huge collection of salts and scrubs and bath bombs…"

"Oh! I created those!"

"You created what?"

"Bath bombs! That's one of mine… not very grand or special in the great scheme of things of course… and I know it's ironic seeing as how I don't really take baths much myself… but yes I invented them."

"That's…lovely… but… why?"

"Well, they're… round and they smell nice and they're effervescent and make people smile…"

"You are so cute and I really need to kiss you right now Angel… please?"

"Oh course dear I mmmmm…."

The Demon pressed a sweet kiss to his lover's lips and swore he felt some tension and fear melt away from both of them.

"Anyway, Angel how about this… I'll run us a nice warm relaxing bath… with bath bombs… we go in there, we… take off our pajamas… take a quick look and then just… get in and enjoy the bath. I'll make sure the tub is big enough, so we don't touch unless we choose to and… well… if we do get nervous or it's too much we can sink into nice warm soapy water and have well… a bit of cover until we're more comfortable. How about that?"

Aziraphale still seemed a bit hesitant. "I um… I think that all sounds good… yes… good dear… um… I have… well… one more question…"

"Go for it, Angel."

"Well, what if um… the… opposite of what we're fearing happens? Oh!" Back went the hand to the mouth in embarrassment. It was still so sweet the Demon could hardly stand it… but then it dawned on him what Aziraphale was actually asking…

"Oh. Um… Angel do you mean what happens if we see each other and get… um… excited?"

The Angel nodded, hand still firmly clamped on his mouth. Crowley actually had an answer for this concern quite quickly.

"Angel… I know we haven't discussed this much, but… so much of um… arousal and well, sex in general, is about… well… intention, yeah? Not to say I've never let things get a bit... 'friendly' with myself in the bath, but... we just need to make a decision that we are going to take a bath. That's all we're going to do. And as part of taking that bath… we'll… see parts of our bodies, parts we've technically seen before, although you're right, it's been a long time and we've changed a bit… and the context of our relationship is different… but… look… if it happens it happens and we just commit to what we've always said and done… we won't introduce any kind of touch to this scenario unless we both want it… yeah?"

"Alright, Crowley… I suppose we… we won't really know what will happen until we just… dive in… as it were."

The Angel gave a sweet smile as Crowley squeezed his hand and let it go. He stood from the bed and crossed to the doorway. "I'll start up that perfect bath, Angel… I'll let you know when it's ready."

"That sounds good my dear… um… see you soon?"

"See you soon, Angel." As Crowley turned to walk across the hall to prepare the bath, he sent a small silent prayer to… somewhere… 'I hope I see all of you soon, beautiful Angel.'

Chapter Text

Crowley did indeed need to miracle the tub a bit bigger to ensure they could sit across from each other at either end and stretch out their legs without intertwining them; unless this went well, and they chose to do so.

The formerly suave, confident Demon was now a trembling mess as he tried to create 'the perfect bath' for his precious Angel. His anxiety and excitement were rooted in the decision to disrobe in front of each other before getting in… he was hoping to make the bath itself so enticing that even if the Angel panicked, he would do so by getting into the tub and not dashing out the door of the bathroom.

Crowley miracled the best of his 'bath things' collection from his Mayfair flat onto a wooden table in the Angel's bathroom. Oils, salts, bubbles and a lovely colorful bath bomb he'd been saving for a special occasion… and this was quite the special occasion.

He also brought a few more things into being to make for a romantic encounter with his love… a platter of chocolate covered strawberries, some truffles, and he miracled up a delicious red wine from the Angel's collection in the cellar that he knew would taste wonderful with berries and chocolate. Some sweet-smelling candles, a couple of plush washcloths hanging over the rim of the tub, and two big fluffy bathrobes (both slate gray with wings embroidered on the pockets, one white set and one black set) hanging on the back of the bathroom door completed the look.

It was all a giant cliché, but he knew Aziraphale would love it… and a happy, comfy, contented Angel meant a happy Demon.

He made sure the water was the correct temperature and may have put some extra safeguards in place to make sure it stayed that temperature. He sprinkled in precise amounts of salts mixed with some of his favorite essential oils, a touch of bubble bath and even a small amount of dried flowers and citrus peel to float on top of the bubbles. He was about to toss in the bath bomb when he heard a gentle cautious knock at the door.

"It smells lovely in there dear… are you, um… is it… are you ready for me to come in?"

Crowley couldn't help but feel this was an excellent sign… the Angel approaching on his own. He was half expecting having to drag the Principality in, kicking and shouting in his nerves… but no… his wonderful Angel was far too brave for such things… of course he was choosing to knock and move forward.

"Just about Angel, I have one more thing to add to the bath but since you invented the thing you might want to do the honors."

Aziraphale gently pushed the door open and gave a soft but delighted gasp as he stepped onto the tiles of his seldom used bathroom. He was still in his silk pajamas, as Crowley was still in his own, and his eyes darted all over the seemingly larger room than he'd previously remembered.

"Oh, Crowley… this is all… oh… the nibbles and the bubbles… it's almost too much my dear!"

Crowley's anxiety ebbed a bit… his instincts had been right… he certainly knew his Angel's tastes. "Dunno about that Angel… just… you know… wanted to make it a bit special… make a date of it. Hey, this is my favorite bath bomb from my favorite shop. Like I said, figured you might want to toss it in."

Aziraphale took a moment to smell the sphere before tossing it in. "Mmmm… smells of, clover… moss… maybe… cedar wood… oh… and perhaps a touch of Earl Grey?"
"Remarkable, Angel… they um… they're smells that make me think of you… The candles are meant to smell of leather and aged paper."

"I noticed… you're so so good to me dear. You… um… you've done quite a lot to put me at ease… well… as much as I can be put at ease at the moment. I love you."

He looked up into the Demon's golden eyes a bit nervously but went ahead and dropped the bath bomb into the water, watching it fizz up and turn the bubbles into a lovely light green hue. As Crowley looked between the bath and the Angel's eyes, he couldn't help but notice that the color of the water was turning the shade of green one would get if the colors of their eyes were mixed together. A wave of calm suddenly came over him at the thought…

It was time.

He felt it completely, in all of his corporation and all of his essence. This was the hurdle they needed to jump over, and as he caught the Angel's gaze, he knew for certain this was the right way to begin.

"I love you too, Angel… and… I'm… I'm going to unbutton my shirt now. Is, that alright?"

Aziraphale closed his eyes for a moment, taking a gentle breath through his nose… as if allowing the pleasing scents to calm his nerves.

"Yes, dear… I'd… I'd… very much like… to see you."

Crowley nodded, suddenly nervous despite feeling resolute, knowing he absolutely had to go first in this chosen scenario, and deeply regretting he'd miracled a set of pajamas with so many buttons.

He took his trembling hands and worked on unbuttoning his top, indecisive on whether to look at the Angel, or pay attention to his task… he must have looked a frantic mess to his love, fingertips slipping on the pearl buttons… but he looked up sharply when he heard Aziraphale speak in a sweet, even voice…

"Don't be nervous dear."

Crowley couldn't help but pause and look into the Angel's surprisingly calm gaze.

"I'm not going anywhere Crowley, I… I promise you. Even if I… even if my anxieties get the better of me… I… I promise I won't leave this room until we both choose to… I… I want this… I do."

Crowley smiled and looked steadfast into the Angel's gaze, his fingers suddenly finding a way to unfasten the buttons with greater ease. He stopped when he reached the last one and just brought his arms to his sides, letting the silk pajama shirt hang open.

The Angel gasped. Genuinely gasped. Crowley felt a surge of energy tingle through his whole corporation at the sound.

"You… look at you my dear… you… Oh…"

"Hardly anything to look at yet, Angel," he said with levity, trying to squash the nerves.

"Just… your skin in the candle light… I… please… Crowley, may I see more?"

Crowley had never been able to deny the Angel anything, and wouldn't now. He gently shrugged his shoulders and allowed the pajama top to fall to the floor. The Angel's eyes widened at the action.

A few moments went by, but it felt like an eternity to Crowley; the Angel's eyes seemed to be memorizing every millimeter of his torso. Crowley couldn't help but go with the levity route again…. "Shall I do a little twirl for you, Angel?" he asked chuckling lightly.

"Please…? Dear…?". The Angel's request was breathy, unexpected, he seemed fully entranced by the Demon… Crowley felt so vulnerable, he was thrilled, his heart thundered. He let himself gently turn and when his back was to Aziraphale the Angel called out, "Wait, please!"

Crowley froze, and he heard a gentle sigh come from the Angel behind him.

"Oh Crowley… your back and your shoulders. I… you're beautiful… my dear. Your muscle… your sinew… you um… have lovely little dimples on your lower back… did… did you know?"

"Um… You're the first to mention them Angel," he said looking over his shoulder… knowing a blush had bloomed on his cheeks at the Angel's words.

"Come back around and face me please… love?"

Crowley obediently turned back, noticing the Angel's gaze was now on his stomach and sides. He brought up his fingers and fitted them in the lines of his ribs on either side, catching Aziraphale's gaze. "See, Angel, bony? Not a curve on me…"

"Beautiful… my love… all of you is beautiful just as you are… and I won't say you're beautiful just 'to me' either," he said with a gentle smile. Crowley dropped his hands.

"Thank you, Crowley dear. Thank you for trusting me… it… it isn't something I take lightly. I promise."

Crowley let out a sigh, a pent-up breath he hadn't realized he was holding. "I love you, Angel. I do trust you… and… I really truly hope you can trust me too. Um… should I keep going with the um… pajama bottoms… or… um…?"

"No… um… no… my dear… that um… doesn't seem quite fair does it? That… you would be um… completely disrobed and me… um… not at all. I… oh no…"

The Angel closed his eyes again, fingers and thumbs going to the corners of his top, tension returning to his limbs and face.

"Breathe, Angel… please just breathe. We can stop if you want… it's ok… really…"

"You won't walk away?" the question came out small and pained; Crowley raised his hand to the center of his chest where a sad ache radiated with the Angel's question.

"I swear to you, I will not."

The Angel was tearing up, but he kept going. "You… you promise? And… you promise you… you will be honest with me if you… don't… don't… don't like the way I…?"

Crowley so wished he could run up and wrap the Angel in his arms and make his promise in kisses and squeezes and holding his hands. But this step was about sight, not touch. So he tried to show everything he was feeling to the Angel in his eyes and from his words.

"Aziraphale, I promise. I swear on my love for you, on my desire to keep this world spinning, on every blasted good thing I have ever tried to do in my damned existence that I am not going to leave and that anything I have to say about you or your body will ALWAYS be honest. I love you. It may not be enough to make you believe me… but I love you… I want to see you and touch you and spend the rest of time making you feel good and wanted and loved… but only if and when you're ready."

A couple of tears slipped out of Aziraphale's eyes as he looked up at Crowley. He took a few deep breaths, and then turned his back on the Demon.

At first Crowley thought he was running out of the room, going against his promise not to leave… but the Angel stayed in place, and Crowley noticed his arms moving slightly. The Angel was actually unbuttoning his pajama shirt.

Crowley stayed frozen in place; not being able to read the Angel's face, he wasn't sure what to say. He didn't want to scare him or say the wrong thing.

After a few torturous moments, Aziraphale's arms were hanging at his sides, meaning the top was hanging open. The Angel took a few more breaths and then… actually barked out a small laugh into the room. "Shall I… do a little… um… twirl for you… dear?"

Crowley let out a sound that was something between a sigh and a laugh and a moan. "Oh Angel… please… please do…"

He saw the Angel's foot turn first, and then slowly but surely, Aziraphale brought himself to face Crowley.

Crowley's breath hitched in his throat. He knew his jaw was hanging open, but he couldn't do anything about it. Where the Angel's reaction to him had been soft, still, breathy, gentle… his reaction was much more frenetic. He felt his eyes darting around rapidly, moving his mouth with no sound coming out, toes tapping, fingers moving, it was as if his brain was short circuiting on him. Finally, he heard a single word escape his own lips.

"ANGEL…". It was said with a sense of love and reverence so pure and true that even Aziraphale, in all his anxieties and self-loathing, couldn't deny the Demon's tone.

He looked into Crowley's eyes, pulling his shoulders back just a little bit in added courage. "Yes… dear?"

Crowley's brain was finally forming thoughts from the images in front of him. Alabaster skin. Smooth and gorgeous and practically glowing in the candle light. Platinum blond hairs dusting the top of the Angel's chest with a lovely thin trail leading down to his belly and below. The belly. Oh, that belly. It fit the rest of his body and frame so perfectly. It was round and sweet and had the most unnecessary and perfectly cute belly button at its center. But what surprised him, was the chest.

"Angel…look… look how STRONG you are…"

The Angel looked confused at his words. "I… I hardly think unbuttoning my shirt is that great of a sign of strength… I…"

"I'm talking about your pecs, Angel…"

"Wha… what dear?"

"Yes, yes you are absolutely emotionally strong to have taken this step, yes, of course… but I mean your pecs, your muscles, your chest. You're… you're… strong… physically… you… you have a chest that can wield a flaming sword. You're not BIG like you think you are, Angel… you are… DEFINED."

"Oh… um… well… I… thank… thank you? Dear… I…"

"Angel, I'd give anything for my chest to look like that. To have strength like you… in… in more ways than one. You… I'm in awe… Angel… you are… beauty and grace and STRENGTH and so much more gorgeous than I ever imagined. Please, please just let me see more?"

The Demon's sincerity seemed to shake Aziraphale from his remaining worries. Wordlessly, but with his eyes staying fixed on his lover… he took one more deep breath and shrugged his shirt to the floor… almost immediately bringing his arms to wrap around his middle.

Crowley wanted to shout at him to take them down but knew this was probably the most crucial moment of this entire endeavor.

"Oh, please… please Angel… I'm… I'm begging you… please take your arms down. I'm not going anywhere, see? Seeing you… my heart is about to beat clear out of me and start hopping around on the floor. I swear to it. You're beautiful… PLEASE let me see…"

Still unable to speak, but with the smallest smile forming at the corner of his lips, Aziraphale allowed his trembling arms to drop to his sides.

Crowley let out a sigh… his eyes suddenly leaking a bit at the enormity of the moment. He smiled at his Angel… his heart almost too full of emotion to speak, but somehow, he found the words. "Angel, may I please tell you what I see?"

Aziraphale kept his eyes on Crowley and nodded gently.

"First… I see my Angel; the epitome of bravery. I see broad powerful shoulders, like the soldier he was originally designed to be. I see lovely, rosy nipples. I see the most beautiful and I'm going to say it… SEXY AS FUCK curves…"

Aziraphale brought his hand to his mouth but didn't look away; Crowley was certain he actually saw a hint of a smile in the corners of his eyes.

"… in his hips. I see the belly of my dreams… a belly BETTER than any of my dreams. A belly I cannot wait to rest my head on while my Angel reads to me. And yes, Angel you want honesty? I'll give you honesty. I see the tiniest most insignificant stretch marks."

Aziraphale brought his hand down from his mouth, looking slightly stricken as the mention of his greatest insecurity… but Crowley chimed back in before he could wrap his arms around himself again.

"And they are beautiful too. They are not red like you described either. They're golden, Angel. They are literally glittering in the light, when was the last time you looked at them? They make you look… ANGELIC. I'm not disgusted, Angel… I am thinking about how badly I want to trace them with my fingers and follow with my lips."

Aziraphale went bright red at that… and, not knowing what to say, actually took a moment to look down at them.

"I um… no… I hadn't looked at them in a long time. I… I don't think they're beautiful as you say… but… oh my… yes, they are… um… they do seem to have a bit of a shimmer… I… yes."

"Angel, I'm going to take off my bottoms now. I know you're a bit scattered and uncomfortable, but you are so brave, and you are making me brave too, and I'm… I'm done with barriers of any kind between us… at least for tonight and this moment. Please, may I?

"Only… only if I can take mine off at the… um… same time as you… Crowley… I'm… I'm ready too."

They looked at each other, both of them hooking their thumbs into the waistbands of their silk pajama bottoms. They didn't need to speak, they were taken up in the moment, literally and figuratively ready to bare all. Eyes locked, they fully undressed, kicking the clothes away in tandem, and looking each other over in full.

All of their senses beyond sight seemed to leave them… they were each in awe of the other's beauty… so different from each other… so perfectly designed FOR each other.

Aziraphale's eyes danced over the demon's slim legs, slender hips and not hard but certainly full Effort below a lovely, soft, manicured patch of fiery red hair. The Angel seemed to be looking at the littlest bit of that same red hair that Crowley had on top of his big toes, an endearing smile playing on his lips.

Crowley gazed with reverence and just a touch of hunger and the Angel's thick, muscular thighs and rounded calves. The plushness of his hips put Botticelli to shame. The platinum trail of hair from his belly did indeed lead down to a lovely nest of curls and a gorgeous Effort just below… like Crowley, he wasn't hard per se, but he could see the length and size and how well it fit with the rest of the Angel's gorgeous corporation.

"Am I twirling first Angel, or are you?"

The Angel answered by smiling, and shyly completing a small turn. Crowley willed his Effort to behave itself as he caught his first glimpse of the Angel's rear, as round and lovely as he'd known it would be.

When their eyes met again in sweet smiles, Crowley took his turn hearing an additional gasp from his Angel when he was fully turned around from his love. They both clearly liked what they saw… as if there had truly been doubt they would.

"I'm so proud of you, Angel. I know… it seems silly to say, standing here like this, but… I am. I'm in awe… in every way. I meant what I said at the beginning of this and I mean it even more now… you are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen."

"You are better and more beautiful than every dream I've ever had, my dear. And… also… still so completely you. I love you so much."

"I love you too, Angel. And… I don't know I'll ever believe I'm beautiful like you say… but I do think I'm pretty smart… because I made sure this lovely bath would stay warm for us no matter how much time we needed."

The Angel giggled, and Crowley's heart soared at the lack of nervousness in his laughter.

"Well, love… I don't know that I'll ever believe I'm as beautiful as you say, but I do think I know how to let myself enjoy many of life's pleasures… like a warm bath and delicious treats with the love of my life."

"Then let's waste no time, Angel. I um… know we agreed that we'd avoid touch for this um… exercise, but… may I please at least help you in to the tub?" The Demon held out his hand, which Aziraphale quickly took.

"Of course dear… we can help each other…"

"Often have, always will, Angel."

The two entities stepped into the tub in tandem, unclasping their hands once both sets of feet were firmly placed in the perfectly heated water. They sank down into the sweet-smelling suds and let out moans of comfort as the water enveloped them up to their collar bones.

They chatted, Aziraphale enjoyed the food, they both enjoyed the wine, Crowley dared to splash a bit of water around because, well, Demon and all that… and Crowley indulged the Angel and let him feed him a strawberry. The washcloths went unused, they weren't quite ready for the intimacy of washing one another yet, but the Demon couldn't have cared less… this had all gone better than he ever could have hoped just hours before.

They'd shed their clothes and in doing so, some of their fears. They were indulging in a fantasy Crowley had held for centuries… enjoying a lovely evening in a warm bath. After some time, Aziraphale even agreed to a bit of footsie where their legs met in the center of the enormous tub.

As they leaned their heads back on their respective edges of the tub, fully relaxed and sated, Crowley couldn't help but think of the whole evening as a gift, and he was so grateful… even if the build-up had been difficult.

Now that this important step had been taken, he couldn't wait to see what was next.

Bath Time: CHECK
Nudity: CHECK
Trusting each other enough to truly bare it all: CHECK