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'Twas the Endless Night Before Christmas: Once more with Feeling

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It was possible that God had been bored when creating the Universe and thus implemented a few easter eggs in the basic code of the vastness of time and space[1]. It was most definitely not a bug in the system.

One such easter egg was buried for so long that the Almighty herself had forgotten about it. She could be excused for forgetting as it was a) concerning one of her fallen children and b) she'd initially expected the code to never be initiated.

Six thousand years was a long time for dormant code with a small loop to wait [2]. And when it was no longer dormant, She of course noticed.

The initiator of this little string of code? A demon realising he was in love and admitting it to himself. Not lust, not infatuation, but honest to God, love. The odds of such a thing happening were infinitely small.

After all, demons had had the capacity to feel love burned out of them along with their grace, hadn't they?

December 24th 11:55AM

Crowley put a hand over his eyes; there were no tears. He was a demon. There. Would. Be. No. Tears!

His hand came away wet. Why was it that he could instill the utmost fear in anything and anyone else, but his own human vessel refused to do as it was told?

Aziraphale's look of utter sadness would haunt him to the final day. This day. The same day. Over and over. The same stupid day on repeat.

"Is this what you wanted me to do? Huh?!" He drew a deep breath. "God? I read the signs, listened to the words. Why-" Crowley sank down onto the twin bed in the corner. "He won't remember tomorrow - today, whatever. But I will."

Crowley fell back onto the bed, closing his eyes. "He won't remember."

And Crowley would be right.

As the Almighty was infallible, according to humans, perhaps this was the point where it should be mentioned that while God was not, in fact, infallible, She saw possibilities where one of a narrower mind would perhaps see failure.

She did not intend the little loop She created so many aeons ago for any one specific being. Rather is was created on a whim, a string of code that was never truly intended to be run. It was, however, a fully functioning code, however theoretical.

On the night of December 23rd, on the cusp of midnight, a demon, whom we shall name Crowley for the sake of easy recognition, finally admitted to himself that he was in love with an angel, whom we shall also name, for the sake of easy recognition, Aziraphale. Now, the demon had known for millennia that he loved this angel, but being in love was not something he'd allowed himself to consider.

This little pedantic difference was however enough to set off Her code and what we just witnessed was the 37th time Crowley lived through the same day. See, that little string of code, hiding in the universe, set about a small loop essentially boiling down to the following:

Should a demon truly fall in love with an angel (and realise and acknowledge this) it would be stuck in its current spot of reality until a specific, preset event would break the loop and allow the demon to carry on living, moving linearly through time, sans loop, once again.

The beauty of code? It did not see nuances - either the event that would break it off would occur or it would keep on looping.

For all eternity.

December 24th, 7.02AM

Between one heartbeat and the next, Crowley blinked his eyes open, his watch showing him what he'd known it would. Same date, same time, same day. He closed his eyes again, could hear the rustle of bedding on the other side of their room.

"Are you awake, Crowley?" Aziraphale's voice was soft - caught somewhere between wanting to wake Crowley and low enough to attempt to not do so.

Crowley forced himself to stay quiet, to look like he was still sleeping. After last night, this night, tonight, whatever - it was getting too muddled, too confusing.

Aziraphale huffed, then there was the sound of him getting dressed, and leaving the room [3].

He was just going to stay in bed today. Was going to sleep. Maybe he could sleep his way out of the whole damned cursed repeating day.

Crowley should by now know that excessive sleep solved nothing. He'd attempted at one point to sleep a full century away and She had been impressed, while also slightly intrigued. None of Her children, angels fallen or otherwise, had been created to sleep. They had always worked tirelessly towards creating and expanding and yet here was one of Her former creators of swirling galaxies, trying out sleep and being so good at it, he felt the need to set a record.

She had considered trying it for Herself, but meditation worked much better. Getting lost in the light of spiral galaxies and lulled by the sound of stars humming, She sometimes came close to seeing what the demon saw in the very human habit of sleeping. She, however, could not quiet Her mind for long, and drifting among giant dwarf stars, black holes and supernovas, She let Her attention drift as well.

That it drifted, more often than it probably should, to two of Her creations, eternally, it seemed, circling each other like twin stars, was neither here nor there.

December 24th, 7.02AM

"Morning Aziraphale," he said, trying to keep his voice even.

"Good morning, my dear - how does breakfast sound?" Aziraphale's normally chipper voice was almost grating by now. But at least it wasn't the hurt sound that had escaped him when Crowley had told him he loved him. Wasn't going to make that mistake again.

Breakfast didn't sound all that appealing, but it would be more time spent in Aziraphale's company, and after the other day, the other version of the - oh sod it! After the rejection Crowley just wanted normal. Or what constituted normal for them anyway.

So breakfast was had.

The rest of the day - well, the less said about it the better.

December 24th, 7.02AM

Crowley was drunk before 10AM came around and Aziraphale had just huffed and walked off to Jasmine Cottage on his own.

Not that Crowley cared. Maybe more booze would break the cycle?

If She had been impressed with the demon's ability to sleep, She was mildly appalled by his consumption of alcohol. Much like a mother would be appalled by a son's booze binges. Also, if sleep didn't help hide from what had to be done, then alcohol most certainly wouldn't help either.

December 24th, 7.02AM

There was an old lady at the pond. There was an old lady at the pond, every day, in the same place, with the same ducks and the same seeds and grain to feed them.

On the days when Crowley let Aziraphale go on ahead to Jasmine Cottage where they would spend the late afternoon and evening, Crowley stopped at the pond. Sometimes he spoke with her, sometimes he didn't.

"So, young man," she asked, dropping a handful of grain down into the greedy gob of a duck. "How are you today?"

Crowley narrowed his eyes. For some odd reason, this old lady didn't say the same things to him on every re-run. But there was nothing about her that pinged his senses - not demonic, not angelic, nothing. Just an elderly woman feeding the ducks.

"Alright, I guess," he told her. What was the harm anyway? She wouldn't remember when this time came around again tomorrow. "I'm stuck in a cursed loop and while I should be trying to get out, all I can think about is how hard it is to tell the angel that I love him."

"That's nice," she said.

Crowley had learned to just ignore what she said. She was obviously not all there.

"My dear child, please remember what's important - love's truth is spoken from the heart."

Crowley made a face and stepped around the ducks and their feeding frenzy. He'd tried that, hadn't he? Told Aziraphale how he felt. Hadn't gone over well, had it? He knew it had something to do with one of the other things that kept happening to him in these loops.

The Archangel Fucking Gabriel.

"I wish my mother was less… hostile towards Newt and his mother," Anathema sighed.

Crowley hummed in agreement. They were currently, the two of them, in the small cottage kitchen, while the festivities were going on in the living room.

This had long since passed tedious and become background noise. Every time the day repeated and he went to the cottage, he'd find Anathema hiding in the kitchen, not wanting to face her mother. And Crowley would mostly end up in the kitchen with her. The living room was too lively, and Aziraphale would watch him with searching eyes - always worrying about him - no matter how Crowley tried to act normally. And the worry would always show itself in how he'd be careful not to stand too close to Crowley, or God forbid, touch him.

Crowley just knew that at some point, Gabriel appeared to him and said something that made Aziraphale act this way.

Crowley had spent more than one of his loops trying to keep Aziraphale from being alone at any point, but he rarely managed. Every time, Aziraphale would draw back, he'd converse with the others, Adam, Adam's friends, Anathema, Newt, the two mothers. But he'd avoid being alone with Crowley at this point.

"What about your mother?" Anathema asked.

Crowley blinked. Then made a face of distaste. This wasn't easy. "I guess you could say that my mother and father is God, so not exactly an active part of my life the past, oh well, not for a long while, anyway."

"I'm sorry," Anathema said, a frown on her face.

"Not your fault, kid," Crowley said, shaking his head. His mother was more estranged than anything and at least she wasn't in the living room currently shouting up a storm because her daughter had fallen in love with the descendant of the man who'd killed Agnes Nutter.

Humans and their drama.

"I guess I'll have to remember the important part," Anathema muttered, before heading into the living room to play mediator. "That love's truth is spoken from the heart."

Just as sure as Crowley knew that Gabriel managed to corner Aziraphale somewhere during the day, he knew that Gabriel would do the same to him.

This time Crowley was sitting by the old oak tree, at the far end of the pond where the lady had been feeding ducks earlier. The ducks were now eyeing Crowley, obviously wondering if he'd feed them as well.

There was a small flare of angelic light and Crowley sighed deeply. "Go away, Gabriel. I wasn't in the mood last time, I'm not in the mood today." And with that, Crowley got up, and walked back to the bed and breakfast, wholeheartedly ignoring Gabriel's indignation somewhere behind him.

There were some fixed things in his days, Crowley had long since realised. Waking up at 7:02AM was one. Aziraphale greeting him with his cheery 'good morning' was another. It could have become annoying in the long run, but Crowley was a bit of a sadist when it came to Aziraphale - and just the thought of waking up with the angel and hearing his 'good morning' every time made it easier to deal with the constant repeats. The old lady, the small get together in Jasmine Cottage. Mrs. Device annoyed with Mrs. Pulsifer as well.

And Gabriel popping into existence. The first time he'd done so he'd neverly caused Crowley to discorporate himself. However, this far down the line, he was used to it. Was used to hearing Gabriel's warning that he wouldn't be in Aziraphale's good graces forever. That the angel would eventually see his heinous [4] ways.

Another morning, another re-run of a show that Crowley was getting truly fed up with being forced to play a part in.

Aziraphale had gone down to breakfast on his own - Crowley had never been so thankful that the angel was so used to his moods, that he didn't take something like this as an offence.

Once or twice Crowley had told Aziraphale about the whole cursed business, but it hadn't changed anything, so at this point, Crowley didn't bother. He glared at the ceiling. "God, I swear, if this is your way of testing me-"

There was, of course, no answer. Just like there never was an answer.

"My dear child, you shouldn't frown like that," the old lady told him.

"Why do you call me that?" Crowley asked curiously. While he didn't look his age (thankfully) he wasn't used to being addressed like this [5].

"I am older than I look, I feel like everyone is a child," she said with a small chuckle. "Does it bother you?"

Crowley opened his mouth, then shut it again. Did it? "No," he said slowly. "I kinda like it - been a while since I've had a mother-figure."

"Ah," she said, shooing one of the big, fat ducks aside to feed the smaller one behind it. "I am sure any mother would be proud to call you her son."

Crowley snorted and shook his head. "I doubt it," he said, stealing a bit of her feed to give to a cranky looking duck. It, at least, appreciated him.

"Do not be so quick to say so," she said evenly. "How goes your quest for true love?"

Crowley laughed out loud this time with little mirth. His quest. "I seem to be stuck no matter what I try."

"Maybe you just need to look at things from a different angle."

Crowley didn't have the heart to say that he'd looked at it from all angles he could thingk of, and nothing had worked so far.

"Brian's being weird," Adam said by way of greeting as he handed Crowley a glass of mulled wine.

Crowley eyed the Antichrist - or the former Antichrist if one wanted to be pedantic. "How so?" he asked. He'd already gone through the whole talk with Anathema in the kitchen and he'd rather be occupied than feel Aziraphale most certainly not looking at him with his sad eyes from across the room where he was talking to Mrs Young.

"He's reading romance novels," Adam told him in a low voice, the scrunch of his nose telling its own story.

"Nothing wrong with that," Crowley said carefully. He'd never let anyone know that he quite liked romance novels. Even with him being retired from Hell, he didn't want anyone to think that he wasn't a big bad demon.

"I know," Adam said, sounding quite put upon. "But he keeps saying stuff like "love's truth is spoken from the heart" and other things that antagonise Pepper, who thinks all the romance novels are sexist - her mum said so."

Crowley shook his head, the words ringing in his ears. That phrase... "I guess some of them are," he agreed, managing to keep a straight face. "Maybe suggest to Brian to read something more in tune with the times? Modern romances? With a healthy portion of lgbtq+ content?" Crowley couldn't believe he was suggesting this. He was a demon, he should be spreading discontent and spite.

Retired, of course. If he tried, he could even spin this as being evil - spread new things like this and it would upset the older generations.

Some people would always find something to be upset about.

Adam looked at him with a thoughtful air.

"Maybe start a bookclub so Pepper can have a say in what's being read?" Crowley could just see how much trouble this could cause the little group. They were all terribly stubborn, after all.

"Thanks, Mr. Crowley," Adam said, a twinkle in his eyes that told Crowley the boy probably had similar thoughts. Well, Adam did like keeping his friends busy.

Love's truth is spoken from the heart… Why did this keep cropping up?

"Demon!" Gabriel boomed.

"Wanker!" Crowley replied, walking past the gobsmacked archangel, managing to leave him behind before he found his voice again. Well, Crowley could hear him, but he chose to ignore him. And he chose to grin meanly to himself.

God was proud of all Her children, insofar God was prideful. She loved them all, including Gabriel, even though She knew he could be a little on the annoying side. She wasn't blind to how he ran Heaven, but She had other things to see to, other things that needed Her attention.

Still, She was more than a little impressed with how many ways the demon was capable of greeting the archangel whenever the moment of their meeting came back around. At least once he was over his initial scare. The Serpent of Eden always had had a way with words, and unlike the angels, not only the Guardian of the Eastern Gate, he kept his vocabulary up to date with the many colourful phrases that humans kept coming up with.

She lingered. Or a part of Her did. For the first time in aeons, She was intrigued and entertained by business on Earth again. How remarcably quaint.

December 24th, 7:10AM

"Was Gabriel always a bully?" Crowley asked as Aziraphale was making his way towards the door, breakfast beckoning.

The angel paused with his hand on the handle. "I - he… I think perhaps such human terms do not necessarily fit an archangel," Aziraphale tried.

Crowley took this to mean that the answer was yes.

"I'll wait for you downstairs," Aziraphale said, watching Crowley with his usual softness. Come the evening, his eyes would be back to their previous worry again.

Because of a bully. And Crowley had yet to figure out a way to beat him to it.

"Sure, angel. Be right down."

The door closed behind Aziraphale and Crowley rolled over onto his back. He stared up at the ceiling. "Why am I cursed with this?" he asked. "I listened, I've tried to confess my love but he's afraid of it." Or he didn't want it. But it couldn't be, could it? Because that would hurt even worse.

"Unless I'm looking for solutions where there are none."

"I don't want to do this again," Crowley moaned. "God, are you hearing me? If you have a hand in this, have mercy on me?"

There was, of course, no answer forthcoming.

"I'm not sure what to do anymore," Crowley muttered as he slouched against the tree where the old lady was feeding the ducks.

Today, rather than sharing empty words of consolation, she handed him a bag of grain and Crowley spent the next half hour in silence, feeding ducks that were not at all deterred by his demonic aura [6].


"Let's not," Crowley said, leaning back against the root of the tree. He'd figured he might as well wait for Gabriel on this round.

Gabriel stood, looming over him for a moment, then shrugged and sat down on the nearest root. "You don't seem surprised to see me, demon."



"The name's Crowley - AJ Crowley if you must," Crowley said, staring right ahead. He'd never liked Gabriel. "I take it you're here to tell me that you'll be getting Aziraphale back soon."

"I-how-" Gabriel trailed off and shifted uneasily beside Crowley. The question was if he was uneasy because he was this close to a demon or because the root was horribly uncomfortable to sit on.

"Just a hunch," Crowley said mirthlessly. He was really getting sick and tired of this. "So just get it over and done with, will ya?" So Crowley could return to his moping. He wasn't even going to deny that.

"Crowley…" Gabriel sounded like he was tasting the word. "Why are you so attached to Aziraphale? He's an angel after all and you're a-"

"Demon, I know," Crowley interjected. "Hereditary enemies, heard it all before." He shrugged. "I grew used to him, he's not like the rest of you feathery birdbrained idiots up in Heaven. He's interesting, kind, quirky, has a bloody brilliant sense of humour when he lets himself."

"Sounds almost like you're in love with him," Gabriel said with a laugh, the kind that was obnoxiously loud and booming.

Crowley chuckled, still without any humour to it. "Of course I am, I'd dare anyone to spend time with Aziraphale for so long and not fall helplessly in love with him." What was the harm in letting Gabriel know? The day would restart again and he'd have forgotten it.

Gabriel sounded like he was choking on his laughter, trying to gasp through tears of mirth.

Crowley shrugged, rose to his feet in one fluid movement and left the wheezing archangel behind.

Then he spent the rest of the day a little worried that the day wouldn't start over again and Heaven would use his love for Aziraphale against the angel.

God looked upon the ache in Her non-corporeal chest. She poked at it, prodded it. How very intriguing.

She looked into the heart of the demon and nothing was hidden from her. Yes, indeed, how remarkable.

December 24th, 7:02AM

"Good morning, my dear," Aziraphale said.

Crowley grumbled and burrowed under the covers. The nice, warm covers. Maybe he should take another daily re-run in bed?

"Not having breakfast today?"

"Go ahead without me, angel," Crowley said with a sigh. "I'll catch up with you at the witch's place."

"She does have a name, you know," Aziraphale replied, and judging by his voice and the noises in general, he was getting ready to go down to breakfast.

Crowley sat up slowly. "Angel?"

"Yes?" Aziraphale stopped where he was, hand on the door handle.

"Can I ask you something?"

"Of course," Aziraphale said, letting go of the door and walking over to sit on the edge of Crowley's narrow bed.

"Have you ever heard the words "Love's truth is spoken from the heart" before?"

Aziraphale blinked a few times in rapid succession. A light flush coloured his cheeks. "I can't say that I have. What brought this on?"

Crowley shrugged. "Nothing, just thought it might be a quote from somewhere."

"Like true love's first kiss?" Aziraphale's eyes were soft as they looked at him, then he seemed to reign himself in, stood and tugged down on his waistcoat. "No, nothing I recognise."

Crowley realised he'd held his breath since Aziraphale had sat down on the bed. "Angel?"

This time Aziraphale didn't turn around to look at him, but he once again stopped by the door.

"If anything happens today, don't be afraid to tell me, alright?" Crowley hadn't pushed this at any point, even though he knew that at some point during the day, Gabriel would do what he'd done to Crowley, corner Aziraphale and say or do something that would make the angel more than skittish for the rest of the day.

By the time Crowley rolled out of bed and went downstairs, Aziraphale had long since headed off to Jasmine Cottage.

He steeled himself and looked up at the ceiling of the hallway, only barely managing to not bump into the small table with magazines and pulp novels that were available for the guests. He glared at the tagline on one of the books - an obvious romance novel. 'Love's truth is spoken from the heart.'

With a sneer he went after Aziraphale in the direction of Jasmine Cottage. He really didn't want to see or hear that phrase from anyone anymore. But of course he ran into the old lady.
And the archangel fucking Gabriel.

"Fuck off, Gabriel, I'm not in the mood for you today." Crowley just changed direction, leaving a gobsmacked Gabriel behind. It was a good look on him, if one were to ask Crowley.

"God, I can't keep doing this, are you listening?" Crowley mumbled, side-eyeing the grey skies.

"Have you considered maybe a different approach, or entry point to your problem?"

Crowley turned around to meet the inscrutable eyes of the old lady who was still, of course, feeding the ducks that were all looking at Crowley like they expected him to steal their grain.

"I didn't ask your advice, now did I?" Crowley grumbled, without much bite to though. By now he was feeling the despair setting in. He was never going to break free of this curse, was he?

The old lady stared at him, raised an eyebrow and muttered something that sounded like "you keep asking me questions, you idiot, not my fault you won't listen to my answers," while she wandered off, much to the consternation of the ducks.

This time they eyed Crowley like it was his fault and he quickly left the vicinity of the pond, no need to tempt fate.

And Crowley had gotten so used to the whole thing repeating that he nearly missed when it didn't run the same course. He'd managed to find a small path between two houses when he heard voices. Familiar ones.

Gabriel and Aziraphale.

"What do you even see in that demon, Aziraphale?" Gabriel asked, voice thick with disdain. "If you won't come back to Heaven we can cast you out, exile you, see if your demon wants you when you're no longer so pristine, tainted by your fall."

Crowley swallowed hard. The one thing he feared more than anything else. If he was the cause of Aziraphale's fall he'd never forgive himself.

He looked out behind a hedge and found Aziraphale squaring off against Gabriel, the angel standing with his back to Crowley. Crowley could tell from the tension in his shoulders that he was angry but also afraid.

"Or maybe that's not enough of a threat, is it?" Gabriel asked, hands nonchalantly in the pockets of his expensive coat. "Maybe we should destroy him instead, if you persist in your illicit relationship with him. Of course, if you come back to us, we can remove those pesky memories of yours and we'll even leave the demon alone. All will be as it was before. You seem to care for him, which is, I guess, amiable, to care for all Her creations, even the demonic ones. Would be better if you renounced your feelings for him and save him the hurt he'll be in when we remove him from the equation should you choose not to."

"Gabriel... " Aziraphale's voice was low and tired.

"Wouldn't you rather rejoin the Heavenly choir, Aziraphale? Isn't it better to forget about a demon who would squirm along the ground on his belly? Wouldn't it be better to come home to feel the loving light of the Almighty? We can't leave you here on earth anymore, now can we? You've already shown what a bad judge of character you-"

All the words spilling from Gabriel's mouth were like kindling on the fire of Crowley's anger. Before he could think twice about it, he ran from his hiding place and all but launched himself at Gabriel.

Crowley wasn't even sure what he was going to do when he reached Gabriel, but the choice was out of his hands anyway. How he could continuously forget how damned strong Aziraphale was, was understandable. The angel rarely showed his strength, after all. Only once or twice had Crowley witnessed this.

So when his momentum was suddenly halted by an arm around his chest, Crowley was understandably surprised [7]. Nevermind that he could feel the heat and power in the arm around him. So warm, so comforting.

"What exactly do you think you'll do when you get to me?" Gabriel asked with a laugh. "Do you not think I'll be capable of smiting you? A demon? And Aziraphale will bear witness - although I'm of half a mind to let him smite you in my stead."

Crowley struggled. He just really wanted to introduce his fist to Gabriel's stupid face. "Why are you like this? Why can't you just accept that I love him? That I will never allow myself to be the reason he falls!"

Gabriel's eyebrows took a leap upward. "Love?" His voice was full of scorn.

"Love?" The soft echo spoken with hopeful awe against the side of Crowley's head sounded like a shout. Crowley felt cold all over. He'd yelled his confession meant to be softly spoken to Aziraphale at Gabriel instead. Spoken in anger and despair rather than softly whispered in reverence for Aziraphale's ears only.

"Crowley, darling, please listen to me."

Crowley stopped trying to fight the hold, forgot about Gabriel’s stupid face. If only for a moment or two. "Angel?"

"I don't want you to get hurt - he's not worth it. Ignore him, my dear." Aziraphale's breath was hot on his cheek where they were pressed together.

Come to think of it, he could feel the heat and strength of Aziraphale's body all down his own back. He managed to squirm around to face Aziraphale.

"I am glad you're here," Aziraphale said, his face close to Crowley's, eyes soft and warm, and entirely focused on Crowley. "And while I think perhaps... you should take me back to our room and tell me about your love. You've shouted it from the rooftops, my dear, time to put your mouth where your money is."

Crowley sniggered, much to his own surprise. "That's not how it go- nevermind, angel, nevermind." He looked at Aziraphale, unwilling to break his gaze. "Do you mean that? You're not disgusted by my love?"

"Oh, Crowley." There was a shine to Aziraphale's eyes and a stern set to his mouth as he pressed a quick, dry kiss to Crowley's cheek and finally addressed Gabriel.

"Gabriel, you ask what I see in him, a demon whom you believe can never feel love." Aziraphale's voice was full of wonder. "Where you see deceit, I see undying loyalty, love, the patience that would make any saint weep in envy [8]. I see," Aziraphale trailed off, looking at Crowley again, and there was almost a touch of surrender to his eyes and voice. "I see the one person in all of creation who holds my heart and my love. And I wouldn't want it any other way, they are in the very best hands."

Crowley felt his heart attempting to escape his chest. Everything boiled down to Aziraphale's words, the truth with which they rang, the depth of Aziraphale's conviction - it was humbling while it lifted him above all worries, all troubles and cradled him lovingly. He couldn't look away from Aziraphale. "Go home, Gabriel," Crowley said, voice softer than he'd intended. "He's not yours anymore - quite frankly he never was. God created him and he's mine now - and I don't share."

A surprised giggle escaped Aziraphale. "Crowley!"

Not wanting to waste time on Gabriel and his sour disposition, Crowley managed to writhe his way out of Aziraphale's hold to grab his hand and drag him off in the direction of the bed and breakfast. If nothing else, they really needed to talk and with the reset of the day looming, he wasn't going to waste time. Even if he'd have another go at it tomorrow - it didn't bear thinking about.

As they rounded the pond, Crowley noticed that the old lady was back and he couldn’t help but wave at her, like a demented idiot. He didn't hear her pointedly mutter, "About bloody time! Was that so hard?" She aimed her question at the ducks, who begged for food. "Idiots, the both of them."

At the bed and breakfast, barely inside their rented room, Crowley had to take a deep breath, put his hands on Aziraphale's shoulders and hold him in place. "Trust me when I say there is nothing I want more than to take you to bed and show you exactly how much I love you."

"But?" Aziraphale looked as disheveled as Crowley felt.

And Crowley had to kiss him. Press his lips to Aziraphale's. Nothing more. He couldn't bear it when Aziraphale wouldn't remember in the morning. Breaking the kiss, they both breathed faster, and a little harder. "I'm tired, Angel, just take me to bed and hold me, please."

A soft exhalation, almost in relief, Aziraphale meet his eyes, cheeks flushed and hair in disarray. "I can do that, my dear."

Crowley had no recollection about getting undressed and getting into their pajamas, but he nearly wept when Aziraphale slipped under the sheets in the same bed. Not much room, but more than enough to accomodate an angel and a demon with no sense of personal space, clinging to each other like burrs.

The last thing he heard before he fell asleep was, "No bad dreams, sleep well, love of my heart." And the last thing he felt was Aziraphale's warm body halfway under him, strong fingers carding through his hair.

Crowley only slowly came to. He was nice and warm. Comfortable. Cocooned under a thick warm quilt just as he liked it. No light was making it inside either, no sounds. Just him, warm, cradled in a loving embrace.

Crowley blinked in surprise. Not only were there arms wrapped around him, holding him in place, but his face was squished against bare skin. He wrinkled his nose. The softness and curvature of it made him realise that he had somehow managed to push Aziraphale's pajamas top up to get to skin.

Aziraphale. Skin. Bed. Same bed.

The quilt shifted and grey morning light filtered in.

Crowley struggled to take it all in, to understand it.

"Merry Christmas, my love." Aziraphale's voice was soft, as was his touch when he stroked his fingers through Crowley's hair, lightly scratching at his scalp.

Crowley felt his eyelids drooping again. So nice, soothing-

He sat up so fast he nearly knocked Aziraphale out. The angel steadied him, a look of surprise on his face as Crowley turned to stare at him. Then he stared down at his watch and it took him a moment to understand what he was seeing.

December 25th 9:00 AM.

He lifted his head again and found Aziraphale smiling softly. He looked like he wanted to ask, but was so far not doing so.

Crowley just shook his head. "I'll explain later, angel, just…" Hesitating, he searched Aziraphale's face for anything that might tell him to back off, but found nothing. He leaned in and pressed his lips to Aziraphale's, long and hard. Because he could, and he felt the encouragement in the shape of Aziraphale's hand on his face, his neck, fingers brushing his skin and making him feel like he wanted to cry.

"I love you too, just in case you were wondering," Crowley finally managed to say.

"I know," Aziraphale whispered, tilting his head to kiss him again. "I know, I might not have allowed myself to acknowledge it, and to admit my own feelings, but I do know, only…" Aziraphale trailed off, a touch of hesitation stealing over his face.

"Say it, angel," Crowley all but begged. Now that the dam had burst, he didn't want anything between them, nothing unsaid that could be used against them. Honesty would be their shield.

"Be patient with me?" Aziraphale asked softly. "I feel we can't waste another day not embracing our feelings for each other. But if Gabriel ever gets his way-"

"Never," Crowley said, closing his eyes, hanging onto Aziraphale for dear life. "I want to stay in this bed with you for as long as possible. I want to build a fortress that no one can penetrate."

Aziraphels laughed, a little watery, before dragging him down into a searing kiss. Hands were everywhere and Crowley had a moment of wondering if his angel had more than two.

Hours later, Crowley just lay there, contented - with Aziraphale, of all things, napping next to him. His arms were tight around Crowley. Like he was afraid that Crowley would try to get away. Not happening. Not in a million years, nuh-huh.

He was drifting off again when it hit him. Something had been bothering him about the old lady at the pond, right from the start. But the ducks had obviously served to draw his attention away from her.

He giggled and turned his head to look up at the ceiling through half lidded eyes. "You wiley old bastard," he mumbled.

"What was that, dear?" Aziraphale asked, his question a muttered one from where his mouth was pressed against Crowley's temple.

"Nothing, angel. Nothing important at least." Crowley drew a deep breath. "I love you, and everything will be alright."

And it would be, wouldn't it? Because middle management couldn't make an angel fall. They knew this, it wasn't a big secret. Only God could take away an angel's grace. And She had just given Crowley Her damned- no. He smiled to himself. She'd given him a blessing. She'd blessed this union, hadn't she?

He breathed out a silent 'thank you' at the ceiling and closed his eyes, allowing himself to drift off again.

The end

1All done in Python of course, because God beheld the code and liked what She saw.Return to text

2It didn't mind. Python code was created patiently. If the little snippet of code was meant to run at some point, it would run when it was called upon. Thus was the life of code.Return to text

3While the angel did not sleep, he did rest, and one did not do so in one's finest (in Aziraphale's case, it meant wearing a cream coloured pajamas and thick woolen socks.Return to text

4These were Gabriel's words. For an archangel, a messenger, a being of love, he could be callous and hurtful at times. Most of the time. Not much of a people person, really. The kind of manager who would give a pep talk and do more damage than good, really.Return to text

5Aziraphale calling him 'dear boy' was not the same. The angel used the term boy in the old fashioned way - not alluding to Crowley being a child. And quite frankly, it always shot a small thrill through Crowley's chest. He probably should have realised how deeply his feelings for the angel ran a long time ago.Return to text

6This would be because ducks and geese acknowledged and recognised demonic presence - they just didn't care.Return to text

7And nearly lifted off his feet. It would be a lie to claim if he wasn't both intrigued and a little turned on by this display of strength.Return to text

8We should all acknowledge that waiting for six thousand years would earn anyone a special mention in regards to patience and setting records.Return to text