"I saw what you did."
Aziraphael looked up from his ledger-book, in which he was doing celestial mathematics not fit for the eyes of human accountants (it had been years since he'd counted the money from the sale of a book).
"What I did?" he asked, setting the fountain pen down gently. Crowley leaned over the counter of the bookshop, arms resting on it, a little too close for Aziraphael's peace of mind.
Aziraphael smiled brightly. "Do you mean the flat tyre, the stray cat, or the nightclub?"
"Don't play the fool with me," Crowley snapped, nearly snarled. "Last night you went to a nightclub and you wore that tremendously outrageous suit and you buggered some eighteen year old boy."
"It was in very bad taste, that suit," Aziraphael murmured.
"I don't care about the bloody suit! You've always told me angels are sexless!"
"You were an angel once."
"Yes, and I never once had sex!"
"Pity," Aziraphael answered. And there was actual pity in his eyes. Aziraphael was not good at sarcasm. "I don't suppose you had time. You sauntered awfully quickly."
"What the hell do you mean by going and sodomising that boy? He's hardly more than a child!"
"Don't tell me, Crowley," Aziraphael said, "That you care what the boy feels or thinks?"
"No," Crowley said sullenly. "But what's the point of being a demon if angels can get laid too?"
Aziraphael closed the ledger and set it aside, then capped the fountain pen and placed it in its holder.
"Would you like to know why I brought that child, as you call him, into my home and into my bed?"
"I don't care," Crowley decided, turning to put his back to Aziraphael and lean against the counter, arms now crossed over his chest.
"Very well." Aziraphael rose and left the counter, wandering back through the stacks with a list in his hand. Crowley, after a sullen moment, followed.
"Do you make a habit of this? Have I just never caught you at it before?" he exploded, as Aziraphael's slim fingers took down a volume of short stories. "Are you even still an angel at all?"
"Tosh, of course I'm an angel. I don't make a habit of it, but one must move with the times," Aziraphael replied, without looking at him.
"Move with the...?"
"I presume you were at the nightclub also?"
"Of course I was, how do you think I saw you?"
"And what were you doing there, Crowley?"
"Taking the night off."
"Mmm. So you don't go to nightclubs to tempt people?"
Crowley laughed. "They hardly need it, do they?"
Aziraphael turned to smile at him. "Where do you go to exercise your wiles, Crowley?"
"Oh, I don't know, it's been a while since I tempted just one person at a time. A church, I should think -- " Crowley stopped.
"Precisely. The pious don't need my care; the wretched do," Aziraphael beamed, adding a second book to the one in his hand.
"You didn't need to bugger him!"
"Yes, I rather did. That's why he went there last night, you know."
"So? Children wanting to get laid, Angel, are not your problem."
"Aren't they?" Aziraphael asked mildly. "Shall I tell you what would have happened had I not taken him in?"
"Oh please, I'm dying to hear," Crowley said, voice dripping with sarcasm.
"In that crowd on that night there was another man," Aziraphael said, turning to lean against the bookcase. "A cruel man, who hasn't even given himself over to your side -- he's given himself to the abyss, which is worse."
"We aren't the abyss?"
Aziraphael frowned at him. "Only in poems, my dear boy. At any rate, if it was not me, it was that man. Sometimes a small sin is a great salvation, you know, and love is not a sin. And he was a lovely boy, all dark hair and big hazel eyes, so hopeful and so scared. Oh, I am glad," he added, almost defiantly.
"Glad you shagged a mortal?"
"Yes, and for this morning. No-one knows about him, you know, and he thought the best way to find love would be to visit that awful, noisy, smoky nightclub," Aziraphael continued. "I told him this morning that he ought to go home and tell his parents and have his mum's best friend fix him up with her daughter's co-worker."
"He probably thought you were as mad as the other."
"He never had to know the other," Aziraphael said, as sharply as Crowley had ever seen him speak. "And now, Lord willing and me helping, he never will."
"I still think you didn't have to sleep with him."
"Oh, we slept very little, actually."
Crowley put his hand over his face.
"Why are you so annoyed, anyway, if you didn't think I was doing good?" Aziraphael inquired suddenly. "One might almost suspect you were jealous, Crowley."
"Jealous? What earthly reason would I have to be jealous?"
"Don't look at me, you're the one shouting in my bookshop because I saved a mortal soul."
"You did no such thing, you shagged a mortal soul!"
"Many Eastern religions believe that sex is a form of worship," Aziraphael replied.
"We aren't an Eastern religion!" Crowley snapped. "In case you hadn't noticed we are the epitome of Judeo-Christianity! Muslim at MOST!"
"That still doesn't explain why you're shouting," Aziraphael replied. Crowley stared at him, for once at a loss for words. Finally, Aziraphael checked his list and moved on to another row of shelves, examining them carefully. Crowley followed.
"You never offered to shag me," he said sullenly.
"You don't need sex," Aziraphael said, though Crowley noticed he blushed. "You're always having it."
"You don't know that."
"I can deduce. And anyway it wouldn't do you a lick of good."
Crowley opened his mouth to make a remark upon licking, but thought better of it. "You don't know that, either."
"You can't catch disease, Crowley, and I'd like to see someone try to force you to do anything you didn't want," Aziraphael said. Crowley gave him a sullen look.
"Never thought about saving me, I suppose," he said. Aziraphael took the last book down, set the pile carefully on top of a footstool, and folded the paper away in his pocket.
A second later, Crowley was pinned to the shelf, a fistful of his shirt in Aziraphael's hand, the angel's blue eyes inches from his.
"This may," Aziraphael said, through gritted teeth, "Seem like a game to you, Crowley, because your side has it easy and it's all glamour and flash leather jackets and sunglasses, but it is not a game to me. Last night I was struggling to save a child from finding out how horrible this world is and you want to claim an ounce of that for yourself because you're horny?"
Crowley, for a shocked moment, could hardly gather his wits; when he did, he started to laugh uncontrollably. Aziraphael released him, disgusted.
"...horny..." Crowley howled.
"It's not funny," Aziraphael said, but the blue flame was gone from his eyes.
"It's very funny -- the look on your face...."
"I mean it, Crowley. If I thought buggering you would lead to your salvation, I would, but you don't want to be saved, you want to get laid."
"You don't -- "
"Stop telling me what I don't know! If you're just going to badger me about doing my job, you can leave, because it's my job and I'm doing it and don't you have wiles to be executing somewhere?"
Crowley stared at him. "Are you throwing me out?"
"No," Aziraphael said, gathering up the books he'd set down and carrying them past Crowley, back towards the till. "I'm saying that if you cannot make civilised conversation, you ought to leave."
"Of course I can't make civilised conversation, have I ever made civilised conversation?" Crowley demanded. Aziraphael sighed and bowed his head over this books.
"You don't want salvation," he said. "If you did, Crowley....but you don't. And because you don't, what I would be doing would be a sin, because it would be pure self-gratification."
"It would be me-gratification too," Crowley reminded him. Then he paused. "Was that a proposition?"
"No," Aziraphael said, not at all amused. There was an awkward silence for a moment, before Crowley shrugged.
"I'll hold you to that offer," he said, and left with as much style and dignity as he could muster. Aziraphael waited until the door had swung shut before he let out the breath he'd been holding, and looked up from the books. After a contemplative moment, he sighed, reached for the brown wrapping paper, and began bundling up the books for delivery.