After the Ritz, Crowley is drunk, pushed up against the only width of the wall free of books, Aziraphale bracketing his thighs with his own, his breath hot on his neck, fingers tugging at the buttons of his vest. “You, dearheart,” Aziraphale says, voice rough against his skin. “You.” It’s the only he can say, stuffed full with good champagne, a four-course dinner and the pent up desire of three millennia.
They’d lingered over dessert and polished off another bottle of wine after that, and nobody -- not the servers nor the maître d'hôtel nor the other patrons -- said a word while they dined at a luxuriously slow pace for hours.
There was a moment in between dishes when Crowley caught himself staring at Aziraphale’s blunt fingers wrapped around the fine linen napkin, eyes roving upward to study the junction where the collar brushed his throat. The angel was on a mission to convince Crowley to join him at an estate sale next week, and then he stopped mid-breath when he realised there would be the next week to think about. There’d be the week after that and then the next month and the next year and decade. They were free. By God, they were free.
But Crowley had missed most of Aziraphale’s exclamations, and the silence grew thick between them, Aziraphale’s breath hitching in the silence. Then their eyes met through Crowley’s dark shades and the earth’s orbit ground to a halt. Like reaching out to a wild animal, Aziraphale left his napkin in his lap and pressed his fingers against the inside of his demon’s knee, and by their own volition, their chairs inched closer until they were shoulder-to-shoulder.
The chorus of people around them froze in place when Aziraphale leaned in, his breath light and warm against Crowley’s ear, and asked, “Do you remember--”
“I remember,” Crowley said. He remembered those few quiet nights in the dark when he’d sent Medusa off to Epifania’s, how Aziraphale’s mouth found his neck, nosing at the delicate crease behind his ear. He remembered the promise of a calf, a handful of drachmae, and an acre of grove in exchange for their wedding. The memory shivered through him, and he cupped the angel’s jaw and turned his head to face him, closing the distance between their mouths, a confirmation that this was his to keep.
How -- Crowley thought, his fingers digging into Aziraphale’s shoulder -- could he still taste like salt and vinegar, the pungent bite of soft cheese? Licking into the corners of his mouth, he still smelled like the Mediterranean Sea here in the smog of London, four flutes deep in champagne. His lips were soft but firm, pushing back in search of more pressure, more heat, and Crowley lifted from his seat for better leverage.
There was a clatter of sound, metal clinking against porcelain, and in between one breath and the other, the dining room at the Ritz roared back to life. The server stepped around their table, yet there they sat, still frozen, Aziraphale’s hands cupped around the base of Crowley’s head.
Who was there to see? Nobody important. It was just them and the waitstaff, the other diners, and the few pedestrians passing by on the street. “Should we go?” Aziraphale said, voice tight, low amongst the din.
“No, finish your meal.” Aziraphale’s face fell, but Crowley closed the inch between them again, pressing their lips together. “We have time. We have nothing but time. Let’s enjoy it.”
Now, back at the bookshop, Aziraphale works a hand under Crowley’s vest, tugging at the buttons until they come free. Without the tight restraint of fabric, he’s able to press his broad hands under the stretch of that black cotton shirt, claiming an expanse of skin pulled taut as Crowley bows up into the touch. The bookshop is cloying and warm from their damp breaths, their sweat evaporating in the scorching heat between them. It’s neither Hellfire nor the righteous flame of God but this other thing that’s been cultivating between them for millennia, ripe and bursting to be plucked.
Crowley lets himself be dragged upstairs, up the old claustrophobic Victorian staircase into the flat above. He’s been here once or twice, never lingering for long, never allowing himself to memorise the floor plan or the number of steps it takes to get to Aziraphale’s bedroom. He’s not counting now. Tomorrow, he thinks as he’s led to the farthest back room.
His jeans sink low on his hips, unbuttoned and unzipped. As he reaches back to pull his t-shirt over his head, Aziraphale let’s go of his hand, and then says, “Oh,” soft and surprised.
“Angel?” Crowley asks, but Aziraphale is turned away, gaze fixed on his mattress. “Oh,” Crowley says when he sees what’s on the bed. “That’s, uh…”
“What do you think we’re supposed to do with it?”
Crowley shuffles around him and reaches for the rosy, plush fruit sitting in the centre of the duvet. He holds the pomegranate in his hands, and it feels a bit like carrying a heart, round and red and delicate. “It must have come from Lilith.”
“Can we trust it? Her?”
“I think so,” he says, ignoring the welling feeling in his chest. He hasn’t thought about her for a long time. Thinking about Lilith means thinking about Medusa, and he doesn’t do that anymore. Instead, he lets his claws grow into shape and sinks them into the thick flesh of the fruit. He digs in and pries it open, the juice spilling over the edge and onto the carpet below. Transfixed, Aziraphale doesn’t scold him.
He can smell the seeds’ clean and astringent flavour, feels the arils roll off his skin as he digs in and brings a teaspoon’s worth to Aziraphale’s mouth. Aziraphale steadies Crowley’s hand and leans forward, wrapping his mouth around his fingers. He pulls away increment by increment, licking between his middle and forefinger. Then, with his mouth full of seeds, he presses his lips to Crowley’s, sweetening the sour taste of pomegranate with kisses.
Crowley drops the two halves of fruit, hands sticky and stained purple, reaching up to cup Aziraphale’s face. An old familiar heat settles in his gut as he swallows, an amplifier of his desire. And oh, lust is a pretty look on an angel, Aziraphale’s face flush, lips bitten, hands tugging roughly at the waist of Crowley’s pants.
Once naked, Aziraphale pushes Crowley down and clambers on top. He settles his thick weight over him. With the pomegranate seeds growing in their bellies, urgency wins over. Crowley lets his legs spread, breath hitching when he feels the soft down on Aziraphale’s thighs against his skin, the jolt of electricity that spikes from his pelvis to his brain when their erections meet. Aziraphale makes hiccuping moans as he begins to grind their hips together, and it’s all they can do to hold on, the creak of the bed inaudible compared to the hammering of Crowley’s pulse.
Crowley spent a thousand nights imagining this while alone, stretched out on a patch of grass or a straw mattress throughout the greater parts of Western Europe, one hand thrown over his face in the dark, the other pulling himself off with quick and panting gasps. The fantasy always takes place in the brushes along the creek, hidden in tall grasses under the quiet night sky. To have this now in Aziraphale’s bedroom, on his old Victorian mattress surrounded by the smell of cocoa, weathered paper, and the hint of sandalwood from his cologne, is beyond comparison. All too soon, he feels his belly tighten and his thighs tense, and he pushes up on Aziraphale’s chest, begging, “Stop - stop, wait, ah--”
Aziraphale lifts off at once, scooting down so he can work his fingers under Crowley’s knees, getting a good grip on his calves to pull him down the bed, feet on the mattress. He nudges at his knees, and Crowley’s thighs open to display his cock curving towards his stomach, wet and slick at the head, on the verge of orgasm. Then Crowley startles at the deft touch of a finger caressing the underside of his testicles and down toward his anus. He clenches around the intruding digit.
“Look at you,” Aziraphale says, low and quiet against Crowley’s harsh panting. “Come on, dearheart. Open up.”
Crowley spreads his legs further and bears down, squirming as Aziraphale pushes deeper. His cock pulses a stream of precome, smearing a mess across his abdomen. “What are you waiting for?” He means to be glib but stops when he sees the look on Aziraphale’s face, the angel flushed, his mouth open, watching his finger disappear past the ring of muscle into tight, spasming heat. He curls his digit upward and presses, savouring the sound Crowley makes as his hips jerk.
“You don’t know how often I’ve imagined this.”
“Tell me then. Tell me how you imagined.”
Aziraphale moans and shifts his hips, a shudder running from the base of his skull down his spine. It’s a visceral sound that comes from his core, mirroring Crowley’s desire. He slicks a second finger and presses in, a slow tight stretch, punctuating every other word with a thrust that leaves the demon breathless. “You, walking around the manor in your kitten heels, I -- ah -- saw you once lean over to scold the roses, and your skirt rose just so I could see the lace edge of your stockings. I had to leave off for the rest of the afternoon.”
“What did you think about?” Crowley asks, sucking in a breath of air between his teeth as Aziraphale twists his knuckles, teasing his rim.
“Mmm, I thought about taking those stockings off with my teeth, lifting your skirt over your bottom.” He pauses and grips the base of his cock, stripping himself once, twice, before leaving off, as though he can’t help himself, so overcome with need. “I thought about that early morning you stalked across the olive grove and worked yourself off on me where the whole village could have seen us.”
“You were waiting for me.”
“You knew I would come.”
Crowley reaches between his legs and tugs gently at Aziraphale’s fingers until they slide out, shiny and slick. He groans at the sudden empty feeling and lifts his knees and hips, pulling Aziraphale forward until he’s a heavy weight settling over him. The blunt, flared head of Aziraphale’s cock burns as it enters, a slow and steady pressure with no room for relief. Crowley pants through it, fingers digging into the meat of Azirphale’s shoulder, leaving bruises.
Aziraphale holds still once he bottoms out, the damp curls of his hair pressed against Crowley’s arse. Then he withdraws a few centimetres. The sensation lights him up with a sudden burst of desire, and all bets are off. He can’t stop, hips jerking forward again to seek out more of that sweet tightness, hot and slick with lubricant and sweat and his precome. Every thrust is a mission to go deeper, to crawl into Crowley’s body, to claim him. It’s nonsensical. He’s wild and helpless to stop.
And Crowley meets him, thrusting back. He braces himself with one hand against the headboard, the other pulling his cock in long strokes to the rhythm of Aziraphale’s hips. His back arches and his balls tighten, and then he’s coming, clenched tight around Aziraphale who sends shivering, flaring bursts of pleasure every time the head of his cock catches on his rim before barreling forward again.
Aziraphale fucks him through his orgasm and then his own, hips losing all rhythm as he spills inside of him. Then he keeps going until they’re both shaking from overstimulation, weak from pleasure.
He pulls out, and Crowley moans, rolling onto his side, tucking his knees up to his chest. It leaves the perfect view of his arse, slick and puffy from abuse. Thoughtless, Aziraphale takes his forefinger and pushes back inside without ceremony, watching his digit disappear without resistance as Crowley shudders and clenches around him. He works his finger in and out, slick with come, and the sight makes him want to take him again.
Instead, he stumbles off the bed to find a towel. On his way back, he steps on the abandoned pomegranate and jumps back surprised. “Hmm,” he says, his voice low like a rumble.
“Mmm?” Crowley asks, overcome with exhaustion.
Aziraphale picks up the other half of the fruit that he managed not to step on and crawls back on the bed. He rolls Crowley on his back and tilts his chin up before spilling some of the seeds into his mouth, lapping up the excess juice running down Crowley’s jaw with his tongue.
“We should save some of these seeds. Grow a tree full of this stuff.” Crowley slurs his words, rubbing the back of his head against the pillows like a doted upon cat. He thinks about how Lilith once gave him a pouch of seeds, a forest for him to sow his desires.
“I don’t think my genitals could bear it,” Aziraphale protests.
“Don’t think I don’t see that you’re still aroused, angel.”
“Well then, I don’t think your arse could take it.”
Crowley shivers when Aziraphale passes a warm damp cloth over his abdomen, cleaning him, before moving down to trace delicate circles around his hole. “We’ll just have to take turns. There are s’many things I want to do to you.”
“A grove full of pomegranates, then,” Aziraphale says. He discards the towel on the floor and kisses Crowley. “And an eternity to enjoy them.”
Crowley squirrels away some of the arils and lets them dry out on the window sill in Aziraphale’s bedroom for a few days. He goes out and returns with soil and a planter, stalking through the upper flat and the bookshop until he finds the most Southern-facing window. He tries to miracle the grime off the glass pane, but 100 years of smog and dust combined with Aziraphale’s stubbornness refuses to be undone with a snap of his fingers.
Aziraphale emerges somewhere from the stacks, his shirtsleeves rolled up and his jacket discarded, humming in appreciation as he watches Crowley scrub clean the chosen window. His t-shirt rides up, revealing his Dimples of Venus, the flex of his back muscles and the faintest outline of ribs. Aziraphale, enchanted, tugs Crowley off his perch on the windowsill and finds the nearest surface that can support them both where he can kiss him senseless and free him of his flimsy shirt and skintight jeans.
It goes on like this for days. It takes a week for Crowley to get around to planting the pomegranate seeds or for Aziraphale to finish cataloguing his books, and in the times between, they luxuriate over bottles of wine, long dinners, and even longer nights on the old rickety bed upstairs.
The winter after the averted Apocalypse comes, Crowley migrates back to his flat in Mayfair where he can brumate, buried under his Egyptian cotton sheets and an overstuffed duvet. He rouses from sleep every so often for a few scant minutes at a time when Aziraphale slips under the covers, his body warm and soft, lips like silk on the back of his neck. He wakes once for Christmas with the promise of hot toddies and cinnamon sticks, and after, Aziraphale fellates him with long, sensual pulls before letting him drift back to sleep for another few months.
Crowley wakes up alone in March. He groans and stretches, toes curling and arms exalted over his head, and then he buries his face in the pillows next to him. They smell like sandalwood and sweat and the peculiar scent of wood shavings, like stepping into a carpentry shop. Curiosity piqued, he dresses and walks to the bookshop to see what his angel has been up to over winter.
The door chimes. Aziraphale appears around from a bookshelf and grins. “There you are,” he says as if Crowley had just popped off to the shops. It must feel like that, in their long years. What’s one more sleepy winter in six millennia?
Aziraphale meets him at the door and kisses him freely, tugging on Crowley’s lower lip until he’s left breathless.
Then Crowley catches a whiff of that curious smell again, wood chips and mineral oil. He licks the tips of Aziraphale’s fingers and tilts his head, parsing the taste. “What have you been up to, hmm?”
Aziraphale gives him a conspiratorial smile. “Nevermind that. I’ve been craving those miniature Belgian waffles from the bruncheon on the South Bank since January. Take me out?”
“Keep your secrets, then. Don’t think I won’t find you out.”
Aziraphale dons his camel hair jacket and wraps a light scarf around Crowley’s neck. Crowley, whose slow metabolism hasn’t fully woken yet from slumber, the vestiges of sleep loosening from his joints and fingertips, allows Aziraphale to shuffle him out the door. Aziraphale takes his hand and tucks their joined fingers in his pocket, and the warmth from the angel suffuses through his marrow, chasing away the last of the winter chill.
It’s a half-hour walk with a detour through the Victoria Embankment Gardens, the beginnings of crocuses peeking through the mulch like little green spears. Aziraphale chats about the book sale he's been to and the carolers who came around the shop on Christmas Eve, about the new cheese shop opening around the corner, and the 17th-century tome he’s determined to repair. He talks around whatever it is he’s been doing to keep occupied while Crowley hibernated.
Crowley bites his tongue when he spots a bit of wood dust along the seam of the angel’s coat, and then turns so they’re facing each other. He’s not worried, per se, but he is curious. It’s in his nature to poke and prod and stick his nose where it doesn’t belong. “You really won’t tell me what you’ve been up to? C’mon.” He brushes the sawdust off and then tucks his hands back in Aziraphale’s coat pockets.
Aziraphale smiles and rocks back on his heels, impish. “It’s a surprise,” he says. “You’ll know soon enough.” Then he looks up, and his face falls. “Ah, oh. Maybe we should go.”
But it’s too late. Crowley tracks Aziraphale’s gaze along the length of the park and sees a tall marble statue fifteen feet away. He hadn’t given it much thought when they’d entered the park, too tangled up in his thoughts about Aziraphale’s mystery project. His lungs deflate, a punch to the chest. His vision blurs, and Aziraphale has to catch him, hold him up by his shoulders. It’s a seven-feet high art installation of the gorgon Medusa, the monstrous thing written down in the history books. He takes a step closer and then sways, caught between reaching out and running away. If he were in his right mind, he’d appreciate the fine craftsmanship of the thing, the warrior stance, gaze lowered like a huntress, the anatomy perfected and smooth like skin, waves and waves of serpents spilling over her shoulders. The statue doesn’t look like his Meadow, but it’s realistic enough.
She’s holding Perseus’ severed head in one hand, a sword in the other. “That’s not how the story goes,” he says, voice quiet. He doesn’t know what else to say. They don’t talk about this. Never.
“It would have been a much different story.” Aziraphale lets go of Crowley’s hand and steps towards the towering statue. Then he reaches up and cups her marbled jaw.
“I’m glad she didn’t kill Michael,” Crowley says after a long moment. It’s like admitting something horrible, a dark and wrenching secret, piles of skeletons and bones spilling from his closet. He remembers the heavy weight of his legs and feet as they morphed into stone, the furious swift execution of Michael’s holy sword. “I’m glad she couldn’t kill someone. She was just a child. And,” he continues, his tongue thick in his mouth, “sometimes I’m glad she didn’t survive to see the Crusades or-or the Plague or the Holocaust. Her life had been so simple.”
It doesn’t mean he doesn’t miss her, even now three thousand years later. She was a changeling, not fit for Hell nor Earth, but for eight short years, she was his.
Aziraphale reaches for his hand and squeezes. “How do you feel about the country?” he asks, apropos of nothing. When Crowley says nothing, still lost in his thoughts, he carries on. “I found a small home, just a little place south of here. I thought it might be nice to get away from London now and again.”
“You bought a house?”
“A cottage, more like. It’s nothing really.”
Crowley huffs. His hands shake still, but he’s grateful for the distraction. “That’s what you’ve been hiding from me. I’ve been awake for half a day, and you couldn’t keep it secret. It’s a wonder God never found out about your missing sword.”
“Oh, rather, I think She knew,” Aziraphale says. “It’s yours if you’d have it with me.”
“When can I see it?”
They make a plan to drive to the South Downs in the afternoon, and throughout their brunch, Crowley fidgets. He picks at his waffles and samples his espresso. They’re both nervous and a bit on edge after their walk through the park, and the copious amounts of tea and coffee don’t help. Crowley is halfway out the door while Aziraphale settles the bill, and the angel has to jog to keep up. He loops his arm through Crowley’s elbow, fond and thrilled to be able to do so without consequence.
“I didn’t mean to cause distress.”
“Distress? I’m not distressed.” Crowley visibly shakes himself out, from his shoulders to his hips, huffing. “Sorry, angel. I’m just not used to this.”
“Being free, you mean.”
He looks around him at the bustling street, a hundred people pushing past, chins tucked and heads caught up in their solitary worries, as though the world hadn’t almost ended a few months back. “No Heaven. No Hell. Nobody looming over our shoulders. We never talked about… her for millennia and now--” Now they could talk about anything, everything, if only he had the courage. The statue in the Victoria Embankment Gardens is larger than life, as large as all the things he’s never said or allowed himself to think about.
Aziraphale guides him away from the bruncheon towards the Bentley waiting on the corner of its own volition, the soft rumble of its engine a small comfort. Crowley slides in, his hands settling on the wheel, flexing as he gets used to the smooth leather again. He hasn’t driven it much since the apocalypse, and that’s another memory he has to tamp down, the feel of hot flames licking at the back of his neck, the smell of burning leather and oil and polyurethane and the absolute terror that he might lose his Bentley and worse his angel, the bookshop already burned to ashes.
Then Aziraphale touches the back of his hand, a calming balm that breaks his reverie. “Just head down the A3 until we hit the coast,” he says.
“Yeah, right.” Crowley rights himself, engaging the clutch, and shifts into first gear. More than half the time, the Bentley drives itself, but today the movement grounds him.
It’s the little touches that startle him most, a hand on the back of his, an arm looped through his elbow where anyone could see. The sex has been fantastic, explosive and volcanic, but in a way that feels permeable and impermanent. They’ve fucked before, but they were just two sine waves touching in harmony before peeling apart. It was raw and always a bit heartbreaking. It was tenuous. His hand tucked in Aziraphale’s pocket, the angel’s scarf wrapped around his throat, feels cementing.
The drive down is quick and agonising. Aziraphale says nothing, sensing the tension, but he keeps one hand on the back of Crowley’s neck, his thumb tracing in slow sweeps from the base up to the delicate skin behind his ear and down again, over and over. It’s all he can do to keep his hands on the wheel, a warmth gathering in his abdomen and thighs. He’s not aroused but could be with the right word, the right touch. The casual possessiveness is so novel, and he doesn’t know if he’ll ever get used to it.
They pass the national park into a small village with a towering cathedral and a small town square. The houses are all packed together with steep gable roofs and short stone fences. Aziraphale directs Crowley down a narrow dirt road on the outskirts of the city atop a cliff looking out to sea, and they stop in front of a small stone cottage with peeling shingles and a crumbling chimney, the weeds mutinying against the stone path leading to the door. There’s an old weathered For Sale sign out front, creaking in the breeze from rust.
Crowley doesn’t want to be rude, but he is still a demon, and it goes against his nature to bite his tongue. “This doesn’t seem to be your style," he says. "It seems a bit decrepit." They’d passed several other small little cottages on the way down with clean brick fronts and landscaped exteriors. In contrast, this cottage is derelict and on the verge of collapse.
“It needs work, of course,” Aziraphale agrees. “But let me show you inside.”
They exit the Bentley, and on the way to the front door, Crowley glances back at the For Sale sign. It has a red sticker stuck haphazardly on it that says SOLD.
“You’ve been busy while I was asleep.”
Aziraphale beams, waiting for him at the front step. There’s a cloud of anxiety around him, however, in the way he squeezes and unsqueezes his hands, fussing with his ring. He reaches out for Crowley’s hand and leads him into the cottage.
“It’s not much,” he says, “but it has a woodfire stove and a fireplace for the winter.”
“It’s quaint.” Crowley sniffs and roams around the lower flower. It’s an open floor plan. The front door leads them into the foyer-cum-living-cum-dining area, and even without any furniture, it feels cramped. The fireplace does look nice and inviting, cosy, and then he gasps under his breath when he sees what’s on the mantle.
Aziraphale holds his breath, standing off to the side, watching him step hesitantly towards the fireplace. Crowley reaches up with a tentative finger and traces along the hilt of the little wooden sword on display made of olive wood. Its edges are smooth, lacking the hard-earned chips and dents of the original, but otherwise, it’s a perfect replica of the one Aziraphale taught Medusa how to make.
“I went back to Laconia after that night and burnt everything but the houses. I had always wanted to keep something, but it was too great of a risk, what with Michael about in Greece.” He watches Crowley lift the sword off its stand with care as though it were a xiphos made of iron. “I do miss her, Crowley.”
“You never said.”
“It didn’t seem… safe. There is a lot we have not said.” Aziraphale joins him at the mantle and picks up a small leather coin purse set amongst the other knick-knacks. He takes the sword and places it back on its stand, dropping the bag in Crowley’s open hands. It lands with a soft clink.
Crowley frowns and turns it over, feeling the worn and faded leather soft and supple in his hands. Then he loosens the drawstrings and tips the contents out, a handful of old eroded coins in various shapes and sizes spilling into his open palm. “Drachma?” he asks, his throat tight, pitching upwards.
“Two hundred, to be precise,” Aziraphale says, voice quiet, “and there’s something I want to show you out back.”
Aziraphale leads him out the back door and into the garden. It’s a small patch of dirt, disregarded and in need of landscaping, but beyond that is a large meadow and a singular tree, its thick knotted trunk exalting upwards, its branches sprawling and gnarled. In the distance, he can see a few farm animals grazing in the pasture. “Technically the cows aren’t ours.”
“The cows?” Crowley asks in a daze.
“We share the field with a neighbouring hobby farm. It’s quite charming, but I figured you wouldn’t actually want the responsibility of a calf.”
Aziraphale barrels on, determined. “And admittedly a single tree doesn’t constitute a grove, but I looked all over for a property that had an actual olive tree. They have very particular requirements for growing but -- ah -- you know that. You cultivated them for years, after all.”
“An olive tree,” Crowley repeats, stunned.
Then Aziraphale places the coin purse on the ground beside them and takes Crowley’s hands. He has to cup him by the jaw and turn his head away from the field and their singular olive tree. “You were promised a dowry a long time ago, and I believe we’re long overdue.”
“Angel, that was -- that --” Crowley trips over his words, his mouth opening and closing. “That was just a pretence.”
“It wasn’t. Maybe it was temporary, but I meant it. I still do, and I know you do too.” He says it with such conviction, his fingers squeezing Crowley’s hands, but there’s a waver in his voice. “I’ve wanted this life with you if you’ll have me.”
Crowley can imagine it, clear as a tide pool reflecting the morning sun, the small open floor plan stacked to the ceiling with books, a garden blooming full of hyacinths. He imagines climbing the olive tree, of transplanting the pomegranate sapling currently flourishing in front of the bookshop window, feeding Aziraphale fresh-picked fruit by hand. His voice breaks when he speaks. “Yes.”
“Yes, I’ll have you. You’ve had me always, before Troy, before bloody Mesopotamia.”
Aziraphale grabs him by the collar and yanks him close, kissing him with both hands cupping his face. He moans into it, pulling away only to rest his forehead against Crowley’s. “I mean what I said. You went to sleep this winter like you always do, but I missed you more. I had you now, but I still couldn’t tell you all the things I dreamt about and felt, the things I want with you. It invigorated me; you called to me.”
It’s a lot to be on the receiving end of an angel’s divinity. Crowley can feel it, a shimmer of warmth that sparks over his skin. Without the host or missives from Heaven, Aziraphale has turned all of his purpose towards him instead.
And Crowley, who was dormant for so long, awakens, throat tight and eyes stinging. He kisses Aziraphale like he’s the first sip of water after a long sleep, drinks from him in long pulls, drawing closer and deeper. He shivers under Aziraphale’s touch, hands skimming up his sides and shoulders to tangle in his hair grown long over the winter. “I’ve wanted for a long time. You don’t know how long I’ve wanted you,” he tells him. Of all the things he’s desired and hungered for, he’s loved Aziraphale the longest.
“You’ll tell me every day,” Aziraphale says, a command and not a request. “I want to know all your secrets, every thought you had of me that you couldn’t say. And I’ll tell you how my heart ached when I saw you in Golgotha after centuries apart, how I bit my tongue until it bled to stop from telling you I loved you. I’ll tell you about Rome and the dinner we had in Barcelona and everything in between and more.”
Crowley needs time to unpack all he’s felt and dreamt over the last six thousand years, but the shape of the story forms in his mind. It started with a garden, ripe and full of life, and wounded him in an olive grove, flaying open all of his weaknesses for everyone to see. But from it grew a love he had to tuck away, lock up and hide in the hole of his heart where it survived, a tree taking root in the rock of a cliffside. He can transplant his heart to richer soil, a place that smells like sandalwood and cocoa and the tangy burst of olives, where it feels like pomegranate arils slipping through his fingers. It’s a love so strong it’s impossible to quench. He wants to flood the earth with it, soak their garden with it and make it grow into something more beautiful and sweeter than even Eden.
He’s not poetic like Aziraphale, but for once he can be honest. “I loved you on the wall above the Eastern Gate,” he says, feeling the angel’s fingers tighten in his hair. He punctuates his sentences with kisses, fleeting before more secrets spill out. “I loved you standing in the rubble of a bombed-out church and the passenger seat of the Bentley. I love the stupid way you say velocipede when I know you know it’s a bicycle.” Aziraphale exhales, an amused puff of air in the space between their mouths. Crowley’s breath hitches. “I… I loved the way you loved Medusa, the way you still do.”
He can’t quantify his sorrow, what it felt like to fall or to grieve his daughter, and he won’t forget. But Aziraphale can fill the holes of his heart, pockmarked in battle and worn from attrition, with seeds of their own making. He can rewrite their history and fill it with love.
He bends down to scoop the coin purse from the ground and squeezes it in his hand. “Angel, let’s get married.”
“I believe we are long overdue,” Aziraphale agrees.
Crowley intends to grow a garden, a grove full of sleepy mornings and wine-soaked evenings, of questing fingers seeking out every curve and dip of Aziraphale’s skin. He’s not starting over or creating something new. Instead, he means to cultivate what he’s felt for millennia to excess and without restraint.
He turns and looks out over the slatted fence at the cows and the old olive tree, at the meadow below. Then he looks back at Aziraphale, his home.