Crowley rushed into his flat as if he were being chased by hounds of Hell. Being chased by Hellhounds was in Crowley's top 15 ways he expected to be discorportated in the last year. He was not currently being chased by Hellhounds, (or anything else for that matter) but he slammed the door in a panic anyway. Then he opened it again just to slam it once more. Finding the sound comforting he slammed the door five more times before finally stalking to his bottle closet (assorted fine whiskys, wines and spirits) and pouring himself a glass of single malt. He forgot about the glass immediately and just brought the bottle with him to the couch.
Silence descended in the cement tomb of a penthouse. Crowley took a long pull of the Scotch, swishing it around his teeth before swallowing. He glared. He shook. He took a breath before shattering the silence with a scream.
Having concluded the business of shouting obscenities at a blank wall, the demon immediately commenced the business of getting right pissed.
And why not? The world was coming to an end.
Not The World world. That had been coming to an end a year ago, thwarted by a group of children, a witch, and a bumbling nerd. Crowley and Aziraphale had been there every step of the way, trying their bloody damndest to stop Armageddon, but at this point Crowley wasn’t sure they’d actually managed to do anything aside from getting themselves sacked.
So, they were traitors now. Tricked their way out of one death sentence only to spend the rest of the year looking over their shoulders. That lasted three and half months and then they both became bored of the paranoia and started to relax. Crowley spent more time at the bookshop, snoozing on the couch in the back room, drinking in the backroom, teasing the angel in the backroom, rearranging the books behind the angel’s back in the backroom. He felt safe there. He let his guard down. He didn’t see it coming until it was too late.
He had been in the middle of one of his bouts of mischievous reshelving when Aziraphale caught him. Crowley gave him a charming grin, bracing for a row. Instead the angel had...kissed him.
Not a chaste kiss of greeting, but a desperate full kiss that had Crowley immediately on the backfoot, opening his mouth to it in want, kissing the angel back like he’d dreamed of for eons before he could come to his senses and bolt. And that’s what he did. No excuses made, weak or otherwise. He had just removed himself from the angel’s embrace and fucking ran like he was being chased by Hellhounds.
Fuck his luck that there weren’t actual Hellhounds, really. At least then he wouldn’t have to deal with the fall out of having badly hurt his angel’s feelings. Crowley could not get drunk quick enough. Maybe if he slept for the rest of the century Aziraphale would just forget? Sure, that had never worked in the past, but this promised to be a pretty exciting century…
“Fucking Fuck fuck bloody fuck bollocks…” Crowley grumbled, bringing the bottle back to his lips. He was about to see if he could drain the bottle in one go when he noticed a thrum of demonic energy from the direction of the front door. Crowley froze, bottle against his bottom lip, and tried to remember if he’d locked the door after the last time he’d slammed it.
Shouldn’t matter with all the wards he’d put on the flat. It wouldn’t let anyone in but him or the angel, but a Duke of Hell might be able to get around that if he was angry enough.
The demon in the corridor stopped outside the door. Crowley thought he’d heard a muffled expletive, and then the doorknob began to turn and Crowley was on his feet, dashing to the door and throwing his weight against it just as it started to open. There was a short cry of alarm on the other side, but Crowley managed to flip the lock, only feeling slightly safer and wondering how his wards had so badly failed.
“Oi!” the demon (the other demon) shouted. “Lemme in, you idiot!”
“Nnnah!” Crowley shouted back. “Not gonna happen. Best be on your way, thanks!”
There was a barely audible sound of a key sliding into the lock and Crowley watched in horror as the deadbolt turned.
He hadn’t given anyone a key. Not even Aziraphale.
“I don’t know what you’re bloody playing at but I’m not letting you in this fucking flat,” Crowley snarled, bracing himself against the door. “So piss off!”
“I live here, you prat!” the other demon snarled back. “Or...I did . In anycase, it’s still mine .”
Crowley didn’t believe the old lady he’d bought the place from in the 70’s had been a demon, but he couldn’t be 100% certain. The door started to open and Crowley slammed it shut again.
“All right, now look,” said the annoyed voice on the other side of the contested door. “You have exactly five seconds to step away from this door before I knock you on your arse!”
Crowley didn’t care for the sound of that, bracing himself as much as possible while also fumbling his mobile out of his pocket. As awkward as seeing the angel again right now might be, he was pretty sure he needed help. He’d barely gotten the shiny black rectangle out of his pocket when the door was suddenly blown off its hinges by an acutely focused galeforce wind. Crowley was sent crashing back, awkwardly hitting the concrete wall behind him.
“Fuckin’ ow,” he winced, his head spinning as he floundered for some sort of weapon to defend himself. Hell had come to collect him and there was nowt a tyre iron in sight. The mobile! Where had his bloody phone gotten to? He recoiled when he sensed the other demon walking towards him, flinging an arm up in defense against a blow that didn’t come. He cracked one eye open and then dropped his arm limp to his side, confused.
The other demon was just a bit shorter than himself, with stylish black hair, high cheekbones and very familiar looking sunglasses. He wore a simple, if very expensive, black suit with a red tie, and shiny snakeskin boots (presumably).
They stared at each other in shock, until Crowley remembered suddenly that his own glasses had come off in the attack and looked away from the impossible demon in order to locate them. They were his only armour.
“Who the bloody—” the suited one breathed. Crowley clocked his confusion and figured maybe— maybe— he wasn’t destined to end up in Hell today. He found his glasses bent and cracked, fixed them with an errant wave and settled them back over his golden eyes.
“Name’s Crowley,” he flashed the other demon a grin that could easily have been mistaken for a snarl or vice versa. “And since you just blew my door into chips why don’t we let me ask the questions now, hmm?”
“Fuck,” the demon groaned, running a hand through his dark hair in consternation. Crowley caught a glimpse of the demon’s watch. One of a kind. He looked down at his own wrist to see the same watch, still there.
“What the shit?”
“Right, so,” the other demon grumbled. “I’m Crowley.” He illustrated the point by removing his glasses and sure enough there were the eyes Crowley hated the most in the world, looking back at him with a mixture of trepidation and annoyance. They were several shades lighter, a pale yellow against the black slitted pupils, but they were definitely snake eyes. “And this is, what? Some other universe or dimension or such nonsense?”
“Um…” Crowley offered helpfully, still processing everything while the suited Crowley seemed to be barreling full steam ahead. “Did you summon me here? Because I was kinda in the middle of something back home.”
“Do I look like I bloody expected this?” Crowley snapped, pointing to the debris around him.
They stared at each other again, gears turning until they both nodded and said in unison “Aziraphale.”
“Only a matter of time before mine pops up I reckon,” the dark one muttered. “Erm... sorry ‘bout the door.” The debris vanished. The door was solidly on its hinges again.
“How did you manage that?” Crowley asked, miming the explosion with his long fingers. “I can’t do that.”
“No?” the other Crowley smirked. “You need to talk to your angel. We’ve found all sorts of new tricks by pooling our knowledge. Really gives us a leg up on the Authorities.”
“Oh shit, really?” Crowley was very interested in learning more about that, he’d even forgive the bastard’s fucking smirk. “I definitely need all the bloody help I can get.”
The other Crowley... (Anthony, from now on) frowned at that. “Maybe we better catch up, compare notes as it were.”
“Good idea,” Crowley agreed. “Drink?”
“What do you think?” Anthony snarked, dropping onto the couch in a sprawl that transcended universes.
“What do you think?” Crowley mimicked under his breath, fetching a fresh bottle of Scotch and two glasses.
They drank and compared notes. For the most part everything lined up. They both had a fussy bookseller/principality sidekick, they both lost the antichrist and melted Ligur, they were both sacked from Hell although the termination was more ambiguous and less dramatic in Anthony's case. Anthony hadn't been put on trial and had been mostly ignored by Hell after the world didn't end. Crowley on the other hand, had received a letter expressing exactly what he could expect when returned to Hell’s clutches. He summoned it out of the air and passed it to Anthony.
The other demon scanned it, his expression morphing from merely unimpressed to surprise, to absolute horror.
“Holy Heavenly Choir,” he swore.
Crowley nodded bleakly.
“Torture I’d expect. The usual flaying, burning for lifetimes, nettle baths, that sort of thing but this? ” he breathed, tossing the letter back at Crowley. “That’s bloody inventive . Who the bloody hell came up with that?
“Dagon,” Crowley moaned.
“Reads all the reports, doesn’t she?” Crowley grumbled. “Read all my reports. The rest of the lot are dumb as box of Ligurs, but Dagon...Dagon learns things.”
“On your knees. Servicing Hastur !”
“So it says,” Crowley agreed, barely suppressing a gag.
“Well, that’s it then, innit? You’re never getting discorporated.” Anthony pulled himself up to something vaguely resembling sitting. “How are they coming after you? What do you need me to do?”
Crowley shrugged and took a sip of his Scotch. As far as he knew this letter was just a threat. If Crowley found himself hit by a bus or trampled by another mule he’d never get another glimpse of Earth. Just endless servitude to the demon who hated him the most.
“The threat doesn’t seem to be imminent,” he responded finally, brought back to the present by the other Crowley’s frantic pacing. “But if you know where I could get another bunch of Holy Water, I might find myself thirsty for some in the next couple centuries of this hanging over my head.”
Anthony snorted. “Right, like we’d ever leave Aziraphale.”
“He’ll be all right,” Crowley shrugged. “He’s clever and God still loves him. Maybe he’ll even go back. You know… Someday.” Crowley downed the rest of his Scotch, unable to deal with the pain that thought inspired in him. What a bloody mess.
The other Crowley was staring at him again. He’d missed something.
“What’s going on with your angel?” he asked. “Something must have upset him to bring me here. Why aren’t you with him?”
“Mnnghh... you’re not gonna believe this, but the barmy bugger kissed me,” Crowley groaned. Anthony looked properly confused at least, but didn’t say anything. “I don’t know what he was thinking. I panicked and left. He probably fussed himself into a right flap but I’ve no idea how or why he’d summon you .”
“Wait,” Anthony pushed his fingers to his temple in consternation. “Wait wait wait wait wait a minute . Aziraphale kissed you. Aziraphale , Guardian of the Eastern Gate, Principality of Earth, fussy bookseller, thinks tartan is stylish, still calls bicycles `velocipedes’.”
“Yeah,” Crowley chuckled fondly. “That’s the angel.”
“And you...panicked and ran?” Anthony smirked, crossing his arms smugly.
“Pfff. You wouldn’t?”
“I didn’t .” He grinned. Crowley choked on his Scotch, the whiskey inundating his sinuses with a particularly rude burn. Anthony laughed at him. “Whoooo!” he hollered. “Oh boy, I think I see where our paths have split.” He grinned at Crowley’s glare and extended his left hand to show off a stylish platinum ring. Crowley immediately forgot his ire and clutched the demon’s hand, yanking the ring closer for inspection.
“Ugh. Black nail lacquer? Really?” Anthony muttered, but Crowley ignored him. The ring was inscribed with two wings, one set with crushed diamond, the other with crushed onyx. It was beautiful, and its meaning was agonizingly clear.
“You’re married,” Crowley gasped. “Oh shit. How?”
“Just decided to do it, really,” Anthony smiled, no smarm this time. He actually just looked...happy. Anthony leaned back on the couch and his smile grew. “This has to be why I’m here. You love him don’t you? You must do. You’re me . There isn’t a me that doesn’t love Aziraphale.”
“Ngk,” Crowley choked again, reaching for the bottle. “When... How long have…?”
“Well, that’s actually a matter of some debate between us,” Anthony responded. “Do you count it as the first time we admitted our feelings out loud, as he does? Or from the first time I sucked his divine cock, like I do.” He flashed his fanged smile and Crowley actually spit his Scotch this time, dissolving into hacking coughs and splutters.
“You didn’t,” he wheezed, collapsing into the chair opposite the right bastard. He felt a wave of hot rage sweep up his spine. “Don’t you fucking dare insult the angel,” he growled, once his lungs worked again.
“Insult!” Anthony looked like he was the one insulted. Maybe he was. They were married after all.
“We’re not…” Crowley tried to explain, but wasn’t sure how. “Aziraphale would never let me...”
Anthony looked sad for a moment, scratched his chin in the same considering gesture as Crowley always did. “You do want him, right?”
Denial jumped to Crowley’s tongue before he remembered he didn’t need to pretend. This was probably the only being he didn’t have to pretend with.
“More than anything,” he whispered. “I’ve loved him since the Beginning.”
“Yeah,” Anthony nodded. “Same.”
“But you…” Crowley gestured to the ring on the other Crowley’s hand. “He loves you?”
“And your Aziraphale probably loves you,” Anthony pointed out. “He kissed you, after all.”
“No,” Crowley shook his head. “It was...something else. I’m not...I mean…” he threw up his hands in frustration. If anyone should understand this it should be him. “Imma demon! ” Crowley snapped. “I’m a bloody demon! Of course I’m bloody in love with him. He’s perfect and good and beautiful and he does this thing where he nibbles his bottom lip or moans around his food that makes me want to come in my jeans but all I am to him is a confidant, or co-conspirator. I’ve been working my arse off just to be his bleeding friend !”
“Woss wrong with being a demon?” Anthony snorted, picking up the wrong thread in all this.
“ Woss wrong with being a demon?” Crowley repeated, incredulous. “WEeeellll… I’m not sure how it works where you come from but here , demons are evil and generally don’t end up marrying angels.”
“Pff,” Anthony rolled his eyes. “Evil . That’s all just semantics. We saved the world. We made our own side. Azriaphale likes us more than the rest of Heaven, for Hell’s sake. What does being a demon matter?”
“It matters to me!” Crowley snapped. “I’m not good. I’m not... nice. I don’t deserve someone so gorgeous and kind. That’s just basic fucking science, that is. You obviously did something different.”
Anthony watched him, silently. Crowley could feel the unblinking stare behind the dark glasses. He was suddenly intensely aware of what it was like to be on the receiving end of his own predatory gaze.
“I’m a demon all right,” Anthony agreed, his voice dark and smooth and shockingly alluring. “I’m the original tempter. I gave the humans knowledge. I gave them free will.” The dark demon rose to his feet in a fluid motion, summoning more grace than Crowley had managed in quite some time. He slowly moved around the coffee table toward Crowley, tugging his tie loose and pulling it free with one hand while the other removed the glasses and dropped them on the table with a careless clatter. Crowley swallowed hard.
“I don’t know where you got it in your ginger head that sssomehow these facts made us less desssirable,” Anthony looped his tie over Crowley’s shoulders, removing his glasses too. “Well?”
“Hhhgnnn,” Crowley wheezed, drawing his knees in against the sudden deep pang of arousal. This was very fucked up.
“Who told you that you couldn’t have anything you wanted?” Anthony demanded, threading his knee onto the seat beside Crowley’s thigh to lean over him.
“What are you doing?” Crowley hissed.
“What does it look like I’m doing?” Anthony smirked down at him, threading his fingers through Crowley’s hair.
“It looks like you’re trying to seduce another version of yourself ,” Crowley growled, hoping to convince this other version of himself that it wasn’t working. What the Heaven did it mean that it was definitely working!?
“Fff fantastic,” Anthony purred. “Same page then.” He dropped his dark head and licked a thick strip up the tendons in Crowley’s neck then dipped his tongue into his ear. Crowley gasped in a mixture of surprise, shame and pleasure. No. He wouldn’t be humiliated like this! He grabbed the other demon, balling the lapels of his suit jacket into his fists and shoved him back, springing to his feet before yanking the dark demon back so he could snarl into that smug face.
“So not only are you vile enough to suggest fucking your clone, but you’d cheat on the angel ?!”
“Ahh...and that’s your worry exactly,” Anthony teased. “So caught up in Aziraphale that you’re even worried about hurting a version of him you’ve never even met.”
“That’s one of my concerns about this, yeah.”
“Zira and I have been together for centuries,” Anthony whispered. “We’ve been getting off together nearly since the Beginning, in fact. Getting drunk together since that started being a thing. We’ve talked about all kinds of impossible scenarios, so don’t let it surprise you that we’ve had the whole would you fuck an alternate reality's version of yourself talk. And we both agreed that, yeah. I definitely would .”
“Oh shit,” Crowley whispered. “This can’t be bloody happening.” He now regretted pulling the other demon so flush with his own body. This move had been safer when he’d done it to the angel, but of course another Crowley would bloody take advantage! One hand was still twisted in his hair, but the other was slithering up his thigh and quickly robbed him of his pretense by palming his erection through his jeans.
“The fact that you have been, I assume, fucking your own fist for 6000 years instead of bedding our angel because,” and here Anthony affected an exaggeratedly saccharine pouty voice. “I’m an evil demon and don’t deserve to have good things,’ that— THAT—” he gave Crowley’s hair a vicious tug, ripping a small cry of pleasure from his throat. "That is insane! ”
“I don’t get to soil him with—” Crowley groaned, pushing his erection against the press of the other demon’s palm. “With what I am.” He shivered when Anthony growled against his exposed throat, but he wasn’t going down without a fight. He grabbed the other demon right back, twisting his long fingers into sleek black hair and pulled back hard. Anthony’s cry was nearly identical, but he was laughing . Crowley would fix that.
“YOU don’t get to soil him with what we are,” he seethed, shoving the other demon backwards. Anthony stumbled, but caught himself, smirk back in place, but golden eyes wary.
“Oh, if Aziraphale were capable of being soiled by me, he’d be as foul as Hastur’s bath sponge by now,” Anthony sneered.
“Gross,” Crowley gagged.
“Yeah, sorry. That’s too far,” the other demon agreed. “Point is, I’ve fucked the angel a lot. Like a lot a lot. Nothing you can do about that.”
“Ssshut it,” Crowley warned. “Just bloody shut up about it, all right?”
Anthony’s smile was a slow creeping shadow of a thing. One minute he was glaring at Crowley, and then those narrow topaz eyes were shining with predatory delight, a white fanged grin splitting his otherwise handsome face. Crowley could feel the infernal build up of energy in the room. An attack was coming. He readied himself for it.
“Mmmake me,” Anthony hissed.
Crowley struck, snake bite quick, a clawed hand raking toward the demon’s eyes, but Anthony dodged, equally quick. Dimly, Crowley remembered that they’d be evenly matched, before realizing the attack he’d been expecting had been his own , and all of this was very weird and confusing. He stumbled forward, unbalanced by the momentum of his aborted strike.
“Wait, fuck. M’sorry,” he muttered, but Anthony spun back and used Crowley’s momentum to slam him into the wall, pinning him there with a hand between his shoulder blades and another twisted back into his red hair.
“Crowley?” Anthony whispered harshly against his ear.
“Mn?” grunted harshly against the wall.
“Let’s go fuck some shit up,” his counterpart hissed, and released him. Crowley paused, blinking at the unexpected suggestion. For a moment he’d half expected he was about to get thoroughly railed by another him and now he felt somewhat whiplashed (and disappointed?!) but … he did love to fuck shit up. He turned thirty degrees to look over his shoulder at the other demon.
“Tempting,” he smirked.
“No shit,” Anthony smirked back. “Now, does the Sea Life Aquarium exist in this London?”
An hour later the two demon’s happily strolled through the gleaming halls as one of London’s finest aquariums erupted into chaos. Anthony had immediately released every single penguin. Crowley had gone to have a heart to heart(s) with the octopus, who had also “escaped” and likely oozed about in the vents. Most of the exhibits were left completely intact except that they had fully switched locations. The seahorses were suddenly vastly more intelligent, and the turtles were suddenly vastly more purple.
They agreed not to mess about with the aquarium's conservation efforts, both blaming the headache of angry Aziraphales to avoid admitting they respected the cause.
When it felt like their chaos had peaked, and the last ‘you are here’ map had been defaced with sharpie’d cock and balls, (a juvenile prank elevated to nobility amid the rest of the chaos) they retired to a pub to cackle of the deeds of the day. Most of the mortals had vacated the establishment shortly after the two demons started laughing. They say laughter is contagious, but this laughter wasn’t anything they wanted to be infected with.
“Whooo, I have missed this,” Crowley grinned, his ribs aching from laughter. “Cheers mate,” he raised his glass.
“Yeah, s’nothin’” Anthony shrugged. “Just another Thursday for me, really.”
Crowley calmed down then some, glancing at Anthony’s ring again. It kept gleaming at him, drawing his attention. It was bloody rude. “Sssurprised your... Aziraphale lets you get away with it,” he stumbled over his word choice, feeling awkward.
“My husband honestly couldn’t be arsed about what I get up to,” Anthony smirked, clearly too perceptive for Crowley’s liking. “So long as I’m home in time for dinner and don’t mess with his first editions. He frankly prefers it, I think. I tend to annoy the shit out of him when I get bored.”
Crowley found himself smiling wistfully and immediately scowled to compensate. It sounded too much like what he’d always hoped for. Suspiciously good. It couldn’t possibly be that good.
“Your angel sounds a great deal less fussy than mine,” he muttered. He tried to flag the bartender but he’d apparently legged it with the rest of the humans. Shrugging, Crowley got up and helped himself. Anthony grinned and joined him at the bar.
“Zira gets plenty fussy, believe me,” he groaned. “Hates the way I maintain the garden. He’s always undermining my authority with the plants. And he likes things a particular way. Always worse when he starts getting stressed. He’s a right nightmare around the holidays. Things that remind him of what he’s lost, cutting his ties with Heaven.”
Crowley swallowed his beer and set the glass down, frowning. Anthony smiled tightly with a faint shrug. It would be harder for Aziraphale around the holidays. He’d need to remember that. Crowley had been thinking this whole thing as a win, but surely it was a great loss for the angel.
“How do…”Crowley cleared his throat, feeling put on the wrong foot by the shift in conversation. “How do you cheer him then?”
Anthony shrugged again and sucked his teeth. “Well, I mean, there’s the usual, little gifts. Hot cocoa, fine wine, a new book or mug. Mostly I just take him upstairs and fuck him blind for a few days.”
Crowley coughed. That was on him. He’d walked into that one. Anthony smirked evilly. Crowley tried not to glare.
“Are you going to seduce your angel?” Anthony asked sweetly. Crowley rolled his eyes.
“You’re mad,” he hissed. “Really. I’m happy for you and all— well, no. I hate your bloody guts and wish you nothing but ill fortune and all— but Aziraphale can do a Hell of a lot better than me .”
Anthony rolled his eyes this time. “Boring,” he growled. “Who’s he gonna shack up with? Some other angel? Dull. He’d hate it and you know it. It’s only ever been you and him for 6000 years you sodding coward. Go back to that bookshop and — oh shit what now?” Anthony stood up, alarmed when a circle of light started to form under his feet. Crowley came around the counter to inspect it.
“Shit. A summoning? Can you move?” he offered his hand in aid, even though he knew full well he wouldn’t be able to pull Anthony out of a summoning that had already found him.
Anthony grinned though as the glyphs began to light. “S’all right, Red. Look. It’s Zira. Told you he’d find me sooner or later.”
Crowley looked at the angelic script and nodded. It did look like Aziraphale’s work. He smiled sadly at his counterpart, disappointed to be parting ways so soon. He still had questions. He still needed help. Nothing for it though.
“Well… Guess this is so long,” he shrugged. Anthony took his hand and shook it as the circle started to fill in.
“Naah,” Anthony grinned. “You’re comin’ back with me.” Crowley yelped as Anthony yanked him into the circle, gripping his hand like iron, the other hand firmly grabbing his arse.
“Oh, shit fuck!” Crowley squawked before the circle completed and both demons vanished with a faint pop.