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In(effable) Dulci Jubilo

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It wasn't the decorating that bothered him so much as the way Aziraphale kept humming under his breath while he did it. Constantly. Crowley wasn't sure if he was aware of it and enjoying himself, not aware of it and enjoying himself, or doing it just to bother Crowley. And enjoying himself.

Bastard angel. Crowley grinned. "I'm surprised you're bothering with this already," he drawled, leaning back in his overstuffed chair so that only the back legs were on the ground.

"Hmm?" Aziraphale, mercifully, ceased his wordless rendition of In dulci jubilo and looked down from his perch atop a ladder[1]. "Bothering with what already, dear boy?"

"Decorating." Crowley rolled his eyes as overdramatically as possible. His sunglasses were off, so the full effect wouldn't go unnoticed. "It's only the first of December, for Satan's sake! There's a whole month to go!"

"Indeed there is." Aziraphale calmly returned to attaching garland to the top of one of the four pillars in the middle of his bookshop. "And I intend to enjoy it, since I'm fully at liberty to do so."

Crowley groaned, let the front legs of his chair thump back to the ground, and stretched out his legs, which was a good trick as his legs would've sworn they were already stretched as far as legs could reasonably go. "You don't think it's a bit much? The holiday lasting the whole bloody month?"

"Isn't just a tad hypocritical, my dear?" Aziraphale began to wind the garland around the pillar. "Or do I recall incorrectly that it was you who was responsible for...I believe it's called 'Christmas Creep'?"

Crowley, who absolutely was responsible and had gotten a small award for his brilliant idea of lessening the overall holiness of Christmas by making it last even longer, snickered. Hell absolutely knew the truth of the old saying, Too much of a good thing turns the stomach and makes you want to shriek every time Paul McCartney starts singing. "Did you know in some places it starts as far back as August? My original plan was October, but give humans a foot and they'll run a marathon."

"Yes yes, you're very clever, now do stop gloating." Aziraphale huffed just a little as he stepped off the ladder and finished winding the garland around all the way to the floor. Crowley watched. Aziraphale fixed the garland in place, stood up, admired the effect of the four pillars. Crowley watched. Aziraphale walked over to a box sitting on the floor and pulled out more decorations. Crowley watched.

Aziraphale took a moment to glare. "You could offer to help, you know. Since you're here."

Crowley grinned. "Demon."

Aziraphale raised an eyebrow.

So did Crowley. If it was to be a silent war of eyebrows, he could do that.

The problem was...well, Crowley had talented eyebrows, he was really rather proud of them. But Aziraphale had wide piercing blue eyes under his eyebrows. The combination of remonstrative eyebrow raise and disappointed puppy dog was just too much.

Crowley conceded defeat and slid out of the chair. "Fine. But only in the interests of getting to dinner sometime this century."

Aziraphale beamed and handed him a small armful of pokey greenery. "Thank you, my dear. Just dot these bits of holly around the place, will you?"

Crowley made a large number of discontented noises filled with consonants, but did as he was told. Holly, of course, bright red berries, freshly cut. Angel must've bought 'em somewhere, no fake plastic things here thank you very much we have standards...Crowley blinked. White berries, wrong leaves, not holly. "You know you've got a bit of mistletoe mixed in here?"

"Hmm? Yes, of course there is. It's traditional to have some."

"Don't give me that, angel, we were there before all the traditions, we know what bunk traditions are. It's just peer pressure by dead people."

"Even so, please hang it up, Crowley. In a corner somewhere, perhaps."

"Are you trying to get customers snogging in the stacks?" Crowley snickered, but sauntered over to an even more unused than most set of shelves where the dryest of dry nonfiction was kept, placing holly around as he went. "I suppose that's one way to keep them too busy to buy books. But mistletoe, eyuugh."

"What's wrong with mistletoe, may I ask?" Aziraphale's voice called back from the other side of the long bookshelf.

"S'a parasite. Feeds on trees. I like trees."

"I thought you approved of parasites?"

"Not when they're bloody shrubs."

"I'll remind you mistletoe has a long and honorable history," Aziraphale said reproachfully, coming around the end of the aisle. "Remember Rome? We hung it during Saturnalia. I do miss that festival, all the merrymaking and absurd gifts, the sagillaria--"

Crowley leaned against the shelves, folding his arms over his chest, the mistletoe dangling from his fingers. "The slaves sitting down to feast while the masters served them for a change, and getting to be as mouthy as they pleased. Liked that part. And the gambling."

Aziraphale tutted. "Of course you did, you Lord of Misrule." Crowley's grin widened. Aziraphale plucked the mistletoe out of his hand and looked around for a stool. Crowley pushed one over with his foot; Aziraphale smiled, stood on it, and affixed the mistletoe to the ceiling, still talking. "It has a strong place in myths and legends, too. Baldr the Beautiful, of course, and Aeneas used it to get to the Underworld..." He stepped back down off the stool, looked up at the dangling yellow-green leaves. "Those stories of druids cutting them down with a golden sickle, though really, I don't remember that happening at all--"

"Hey, angel?"


"You're standing under the mistletoe."

Crowley just had time to see Aziraphale's wide piercing blue eyes widen further in surprise before he stole a kiss.

It was a while before they separated even a little, and it wasn't much. Somehow in the interim Aziraphale's hands had ended up on Crowley's face and in his hair, Crowley had an arm around his shoulders and another around his waist and one thigh pressed between his, and it was hard to tell whose breath was whose anymore. Crowley leaned forward again, rested his forehead on Aziraphale's. Aziraphale chuckled. "I take it, my dearest, that you no longer object to the mistletoe?"

"Depends who you let catch you underneath it, angel." Crowley brushed lips along Aziraphale's eyebrow, kissed his temple, smiled against his skin.

"Don't worry. It would take a truly wily serpent to catch me so off-guard." Aziraphale smirked, and Crowley began to have a sneaky suspicion that he'd been had. Bastard angel.

He kissed him again. The mistletoe would be his excuse if he needed one.

(He didn't.)