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Of Raphael

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A switch on a park bench, a toast to the world, and the first day of the rest of their lives.

After a pleasant, celebratory lunch at the Ritz, a demon and an angel strolled back towards Soho with all the intentions of enjoying the rest of their lives free from the scrutiny of both Heaven and Hell.  As Aziraphale rambled on about how excited he was to see his bookshop restored to its former glory, Crowley found his thoughts drifting.

Ever since the day before, when Aziraphale had been restored to him thanks to the timely intervention of the Antichrist, Crowley had been debating the best time, place, and way to declare his love for the angelic being beside him.

He had wanted to do it last night in his flat after the two of them stepped off a bus that had originally been going to Oxford. Perhaps with a passionate kiss along with a promise to never leave his side again? Instead, they had stayed up all night planning their body swap.

He had wanted to do it on the bench in the park after they returned to their assigned corporations, reaching over to take his angel’s hand before bringing it to his lips for a kiss. Instead he had griped about a tartan shirt collar. 

He had wanted to do it at the Ritz after the two of them had split a bottle of high-quality champagne. Maybe he’d get lucky and be able to feed Aziraphale little bits of dessert. Instead, he had said, “To the world”. It was the closest he had ever gotten to the truth, however, and the shy smile he had been rewarded with almost made his constant confession-themed failures worthwhile.

In all honesty, he wasn’t quite sure why he kept holding back. It wasn’t nerves, that was certain (okay maybe a little). Instead, all the other times just hadn’t felt right! If it wasn’t the wrong ambiance, it was the wrong time. If it wasn’t the wrong time, it was the wrong place. Over and over again!

“Goodness! Who is that?”

Aziraphale’s question snapped Crowley back into the present day. The angel held out an arm across Crowley’s chest to keep the demon from taking another step further.

The two of them had just rounded the street corner near Aziraphale’s shop. A block away, at the store’s front, a tall figure was hunched over, peering through the window.  After a moment, he straightened out with an audible sigh. A pair of bright green eyes crumpled in disappointment and a pale hand ran through a shock of hair tied back in a loose ponytail that poured down past his shoulders like liquid obsidian and just as shiny.

Instantly Crowley was on high alert. This was no human. The power rolling off the stranger in waves clearly marked him as an Archangel ! The demon ducked under Aziraphale’s arm to stand in front of him.

“Stay behind me, angel…”

The Archangel sniffed the air a few times, before turning to face the two of them. He squinted in confusion, before a huge smile broke out across his features.

“Azi-Raphael!” he crowed.

Crowley snarled, “That’s not his name you-”

Aziraphale broke free to go sprinting towards the other angel (Crowley had never seen him run before) with a frantic cry of, “Raphael!”

The Archangel, Raphael, matched Aziraphale’s strides and within the span of a few heartbeats the two of them were gripping each other tight in a near bone-crushing embrace. Raphael hoisted Aziraphale up and the two of them spun in circles, laughter light and free.

“Azi! Oh, my sweet little Azi!”

Crowley felt like he had just walked into his flat to find all of his furniture moved six inches to the left: discombobulated and wrong.  

Raphael set Aziraphale down and gripped his face to pepper frantic kisses over his forehead and cheeks.

Crowley’s mouth went dry at the sight.

“Rapha-Raphael, please! You’re embarrassing me!” Aziraphale giggled.

Giggled.

He fucking giggled!

Raphael stopped his affectionate assault, but only stepped back far enough to hold Aziraphale by his shoulders.

“Azi, I’m so glad you’re safe! I know we had plans about Armageddon, I know , but when the other Archangels found out what I was doing, they had me imprisoned! I couldn’t get away!”

Aziraphale gasped. “They locked you up ?! No wonder my previous attempts to contact you all failed! How on earth did you escape?”

“I didn’t! They let me go! They let me out of my cell after mumbling something about a failed execution. I came straight down here to see if you had anything to do with that and to see if you succeeded in stopping Armageddon,”

“Well, as you can clearly tell, we did. Stop Armageddon. Together,” 

Crowley had metaphorically elbowed his way into the conversation and was now standing in front of Raphael, arms crossed against his chest. The Archangel’s eyes roamed over Crowley’s form.

“Ah. You must be the famous Anthony J. Crowley I’ve heard so much about these past six millenia,” Raphael said, extending a hand to shake.

Crowley ignored the offered hand in favor of indignant sputtering. “Angel-you-wha-? You told an Archangel about me?!”

Aziraphale, instead of looking guilty like he should, just looked annoyed.

“Of course I told him about you. Why wouldn’t I?”

“Because he’s a sodding Archangel!”

“Raphael is different from his siblings,” Aziraphale huffed, crossing his arms to match Crowley.

Raphael’s eyes darted between the two of them. “I can see things are getting a little tense, Azi, why don’t we all go inside and we can-”

“And that!” snapped Crowley, pointing at Raphael. “You let him call you ‘Azi’?! Why?! You never let me do that!”

Now it was Raphael who looked miffed. 

“Because that’s his name? ” he said like he was explaining something to an irate toddler. “Azi-Raphael. Of Raphael.”

Oh.

It was so much worse than he thought. This wasn’t “just” an Archangel. This was Aziraphale’s assigned mate. Aziraphale belonged to him.

And from the look of Aziraphale’s smile, the feelings were completely mutual.

Crowley stifled a whimper.

“Well, I haven’t been ‘Azi-Raphael’ in a while,” Aziraphale chuckled. “I don’t like to go around flaunting it too much so ‘Aziraphale’ is fine enough.”

Raphael pinched one of Aziraphale’s cheeks with a teasing grin. “What? Are you suddenly too good for me now that you’re a big-shot hero?”

Aziraphale slapped his hand away playfully and turned back to Crowley. He gestured to the Archangel. “Raphael has been helping me thwart Armaggeddon from the inside. At least, he was supposed to, before being imprisoned. I contacted him shortly after you delivered the Antichrist.”

“I wouldn’t be much of a healer if I just let all the humans die, right?” Raphael explained with a shrug. He tossed his ponytail over his shoulder. “It only made sense to help my Azi.”

Crowley felt sick to his stomach. How was he supposed to compete with a guy whose literal specialty was to heal others? The Protector and the Healer. It was a match made in Heaven...or Crowley’s personal Hell.  Raphael continued his speech, ignorant to the demon’s turmoil. 

“After Azi told me that you two were planning to influence the Antichrist to be neutral in the apocalypse, I tried to convince my siblings that ending the earth wasn’t what Mother truly wanted. They didn’t like that, and had me imprisoned for 11 years. Heaven doesn’t take kindly to rebellion, as I’m sure you know, Crowley,” the Archangel suddenly went stiff. “Oh! Forgive me! That was incredibly rude of me. I meant no disrespect to my Azi’s dearest friend and protector.” Raphael bowed low at the waist and Crowley felt even sicker.

He’s polite to demons and a gentleman. I’m fucked .

“‘S no problem,” Crowley choked around the lump in his throat.

Raphael smiled, relieved. Aziraphale came up next to him to lift a lock of his dark hair.

“That explains the new look,” The Principality chuckled. “I barely recognized you, at first.”

“Yeah. I haven’t been to a proper barber in a decade because of those assholes upstairs . Tell me, is Guillani still in business?”

“Of course! He’s been asking after you these past few years. It’ll be good to have the three of us back together again for our appointments. Why just a few weeks ago he suggested the most marvelous cologne…”

Crowley let the rest of the words be drowned out by the ringing in his ears. Raphael and Aziraphale shared a barber?! They had frequent appointments together?! How had Crowley not known about this guy until now?!

The demon cleared his throat, interrupting the two angels. “I can see you two have a lot of catching up to do. So I’m just gonna, er, go water my plants for a bit. Catch ya’ later, angel!”  Before Aziraphale could protest, Crowley was already walking smartly back in the direction of Mayfair with what he hoped was a careless wave over his shoulder.

“Oh...alright then, my dear. Mind how you go!”

Crowley pretended he didn’t hear the disappointment in Aziraphale’s voice.

*~*~*~*~*

Raphael dropped into Aziraphale’s squashy sofa with a groan of appreciation.

Shiiiit it’s good to be back on Earth. I missed food ,” he moaned.

Aziraphale laughed, all of Crowley’s previous odd behavior pushed to the back of his mind as he passed Raphael a glass of red wine.  Raphael just snatched the bottle instead and knocked it back. After a few large gulps he returned it. “Oh? Is that a Chianti? You know me so well, Azi.”

“I figured you’d appreciate something a little fuller,”

Raphael wiggled in place until a sizable divot had been made in the couch to contour to his body shape.

“So, your demon seemed a little twitchy back there,” he said, apropos of nothing.

Aziraphale nearly choked on his wine and turned a color to match. “C-crowley’s not my...not my demon!”

Raphael shrugged, but looked apologetic. 

“I’m sorry if I made things weird back there for him. I know it’s always a little awkward meeting the parents but, in my defense, I didn’t know I would run into him too while I went looking for you,” he mumbled.

“You’re not my father, Raphael,” Aziraphale scolded. “You’re my...source. My progenitor.”

Father ,” Raphael arched an eyebrow. “Azi, I was literally tasked with sculpting you out of clouds, stardust, and a bit of my Grace. If anything I’m your father and mother. In fact, yes! Call me that instead! Fother or Mather. Either one is fine! Maybe Mamther?”

Aziraphale groaned and buried his face in his hands. “I hate you. I should have left you on the street corner in front of my shop where you were standing.”

“But ya’ didn’t!”

Raphael burst into a shit-eating grin like he was in on some kind of joke that Aziraphale knew nothing about.  Aziraphale just sighed and helped himself to his own glass of wine. He and his...Mamther...had a lot of catching up to do!

*~*~*~*~*

Crowley hadn’t even closed the door to his flat all the way before he was sliding to the floor, back pressed to the wall. He folded his knees to his chest, hiding his face in them.

How had he not known, over 6,000 years of pining, that his angel was spoken for ? Was there a sign he had missed? Some sentence or phrase that he didn’t really pay attention to and was paying the price for now?

He tried not to think about what Aziraphale and Raphael (he spat out the name in his head like it was poison) were doing at this moment. Were they just talking? Holding hands? Cuddling on the sofa where Crowley had one day hoped to do the same? Somebody forbid were they…

...were they…

... kissing ?!

Crowley let out a low keen, trying desperately to shake out the mental picture. He could already see it now. 

Raphael’s strong arms would be wrapped around Aziraphale’s waist as the Archangel’s long hair flowed majestically in an improbable breeze.  Aziraphale would be hanging off of him like some heroine on the cover of a tawdry bodice ripper. 

“Aziraphale, I have returned from my long imprisonment in Heaven,” Raphael would say in a deep, sultry voice.

His shirt would be conveniently open. Aziraphale would swoon with a dramatic sigh at his long-lost lover once again being in his arms.

“Oh, Raphael! Make love to me!” he would gasp.

“Yes, and I will leave my Halo on,”

There would probably be a lot of sexually-charged, smouldering gazes. Aziraphale would think it was amazing .

Crowley was mercifully startled out of his spiral into insanity by a light knock on his door.

“Crowley, dear? Are you in? I haven’t heard from you in a few hours and I was getting worried,” came the voice from the hallway.

Shit! Just how long had he been sitting there wallowing in self-pity? Crowley opened his mouth to reply but another voice beat him to it.

“Should you knock again?”

Raphael.

Crowley hissed and shifted into his serpent form, darting for cover under his sofa as the door opened with a miracle.  He just barely managed to conceal his aura before the two angels were stepping into his living room.  

“Crowley? Dearest, if you’re in here, please say something! I’m getting rather concerned!” Aziraphale called.

Dearest? That was a new nickname…  Crowley almost crept out of his hiding place to reassure his angel that he was alright, but Raphael had moved closer to Aziraphale and the demon’s desire to comfort his friend was swept away by a wave of jealousy.

“I don’t think he’s here, Azi. Maybe try the park?” Raphael suggested.

Aziraphale sniffled, making a valiant effort not to cry. “Yes. I’ll do that. Would you stay here and let me know if he comes back?”

“Of course, Azi,”

Raphael gave him a quick hug (Crowley was tempted to bite the bastard’s ankles) then Aziraphale was out the door again.

The Archangel, instead of puttering around Crowley’s flat, sat down on the floor in front of the couch.

“You can come out now, Crowley. I know you’re there,”

The demon-turned-snake jolted in surprise. He planned on remaining silent, but Raphael just said, “Don’t make me drag you out from under there.”

“I’d like to sssssssee you try,” Crowley hissed in response, but ultimately slithered back into the light.

Raphael stared down at him in mild disapproval.

“Would you be so kind as to explain to me why you’re avoiding my little Azi?”

Crowley said nothing. He just buried his face under his own coils. Raphael sighed and rested his head on the sofa cushions. “I love Azi more than anything in creation.”

Crowley, if he had any fists, would have been clenching them hard enough to crack his knuckles. Raphael rolled his head to the side, to look at the demon with his kind, forest-green eyes. “I know you do too. Love him more than anything else, I mean.”

That statement was enough to have Crowley’s head popping up in surprise. Raphael knew ?! The Archangel’s mouth turned upwards in a knowing smirk. 

“He was mine first. But he can be yours too,”

Raphael patted Crowley’s body somewhere in the proximity of where his human corporation’s shoulders would be. He didn’t say anything else, just rose to his feet and exited the flat. Crowley could only watch him go in stunned silence.

Was he…

Was Raphael suggesting they share Aziraphale? Like in a polyamorous relationship? 

Crowley’s thoughts were racing faster than his Bentley. This was his chance! Wait, no…

The demon let his body uncoil. The simple fact of the matter was that Crowley was selfish . He didn’t want to share Aziraphale! He wanted him all to himself! But then again...wasn’t having Aziraphale some of the time better than none of the time?

Admittedly, Crowley didn’t know much about polyamory (was it like a timeshare?). However, if Aziraphale was willing to give it a shot, then Crowley was too, dammit! The demon returned to his default corporation and was out the door so fast that he was sure sparks were trailing in his wake.

*~*~*~*~*

Back at the bookshop, Aziraphale was pacing while Raphael watched on. 

“Oh, he wasn’t at the park either! Where could he have gone? Do you think Hell took him? I know Heaven didn’t or you would have said something…”

Raphael suddenly felt the faint flickering of a demonic presence at the edge of his consciousness. Aziraphale felt it too, judging by the way his shoulders slumped in relief. The Archangel checked his Mickey Mouse watch Azi had bought him at Disneyland fifteen years ago.

“Huh...he’s later than I thought he would be,” he mumbled low enough for Aziraphale not to hear.

The door to the shop swung open so hard that it knocked the little bell above it clear from it’s perch.

“Angel!”

In the interim between leaving his flat and coming to the bookshop, Crowley had apparently stopped somewhere to burgle someone’s front garden, if the red tulips (with the bulbs/roots/dirt still attached) clenched in his hand were anything to go by.

“Crowley! I’m so relieved to see you unharmed, dearest, only…” Aziraphale pointed at the tulips. “...what are those for?”

Crowley held them out like a supplicant seeking a blessing. “I...I got them for you . And I wanted you both to know that…” he paused, yellow eyes flickering from Aziraphale to Raphael to Aziraphale again. “...I accept your invitation.”

Aziraphale and Raphael wore matching expressions of befuddlement. 

“Um... what invitation?” the Principality asked.

“Y-you know? To share you. Poly style,”

Raphael had turned a peculiar shade of green, Aziraphale was red, and the two of them formed a perfect blend of Christmas colors. 

“Crowley…” Aziraphale’s voice started low but almost immediately spiked up an octave. “...did you think Raphael and I were in a...a... sexual relationship?!”

The demon opened and closed his mouth, feeling very much like he was missing something crucial.

“Ngk, yeah? What else does ‘Of Raphael’ mean?”

Raphael threw back his head in a laugh so loud that it set off at least three car alarms. He titled back a little too far however, and upended the entire couch in a cloud of dust.

“Ow…”

Aziraphale, still cherry red, stomped over to one of his shelves, fished out a copy of Merriam-Webster and pointed to the definition of the word “of”: “used to indicate derivation, origin, or source.”

Crowley read it, but just looked lost.

“For pity’s sake, Crowley! Raphael’s not my lover, he's my father!”

The demon’s thoughts ground to a screeching halt. Over the stunned silence, Raphael’s howls of laughter continued, this time triggering all the dogs on the street to bay in unison.  Aziraphale’s countenance was a mixture of mortified embarrassment and slight amusement. Crowley tried to say a few words, but all that came out were vague consonant noises. Finally he managed to scrape together enough brain cells to settle for asking, “Does this mean you’re still single?”

*~*~*~*~*

Later, after the confusion was cleared and profuse apologies were made, Raphael departed the shop with a promise from him to see Crowley and Aziraphale both again later that week.  Now the demon and angel sat on the re-righted sofa, but on opposite ends.

Crowley felt like the gap between them may as well have been a mile wide. He spoke first.

“Look, angel, I’m sorry about that whole mess earlier. I really thought that, well…”

He didn’t finish. Aziraphale just hummed. Crowley noticed that he had scooted just a bit closer.  

“Really though, Raphael? Of all angels? If he weren’t my father, I still wouldn’t have chosen him. He’s not my type, quite frankly.”

Crowley took the initiative to mimic Aziraphale and inch closer as well.

“So, hypothetically speaking of course, what is your type?”

Aziraphale glanced up at him through pale eyelashes. “Well...you know...tall, lean, red-hair, frightfully clever, demonic... the usual. I’ve only ever had this type.”  The angel was close enough now that both of their thighs were touching, though neither could tell who had been the one to finally close the space between them.

Crowley swallowed. Something warm and bright that felt like new beginnings flared to life in his chest.

Mine happens to be soft, kind angels who give away flaming weapons to people. Always been my type,”

Aziraphale let out a soft little sigh that might have been the demon’s name before the two of them were pressing their mouths together in a kiss 6,000 years in the making. 

“It’s you, dearest. It’s only ever been you,” the angel breathed against the other’s lips.

“Good,” growled Crowley, taking the opportunity to push Aziraphale down to the couch cushions.

After all, he didn’t like to share.

*~*~*~*~*

Raphael Later: