Aziraphale stood looking around Crowley’s flat as Crowley locked the door behind them and then miracled several additional locks into existence for good measure. They wouldn’t stop anyone who was likely to be pursuing either of them, but they made Crowley feel better. “So this is your flat, is it?”
“Yes,” Crowley said, looking around himself a bit uneasily to make certain there wasn’t any reason to doubt it. “Seems to be.”
“It’s nice,” Aziraphale said unpersuasively. “It isn’t … well … particularly lived-in, though, is it?”
“It is,” Crowley said defensively. “I live in it. It’s just actually in style, which you wouldn’t know anything about.”
Aziraphale gravitated toward the houseplants as if attracted by the only things in the flat that could conceivably have been described as “clutter,” and then frowned as they attempted defensively to turn a brighter green. “What have you done to them?”
“I practice tough love,” Crowley said. “Your lot invented that. Mine just leave out the ‘love’ part.” That reminded him unpleasantly of what his people probably wanted to do to him right then. Aziraphale had fallen silent, probably also thinking about what his people probably wanted to do to him right then. Thankfully, humans had invented all sorts of ways of avoiding thinking about things.
“Well, it has been a day,” Aziraphale said with an unconvincing effort at brightness. “How about a nice cup of tea?”
“How about a drink?” Crowley said.
They drank sitting at opposite ends of Crowley’s black sofa, largely in silence. The options for conversation seemed to be recapping the events of the day, which neither of them wanted to do, or discussing their plan for the next day, which Crowley wasn’t ready to contemplate in any detail. Crowley put his feet up on the sofa. Aziraphale leaned back on the sofa, his glass balanced on his knee.
“It might not all have burned down,” Aziraphale said after a while.
That seemed unlikely to Crowley. He told himself determinedly that was the reason he didn’t want Aziraphale to leave. “Do you really want to go find out right now?”
“No, I suppose not. It’ll all seem easier to face in the morning. Although of course in the morning we should …”
“Put this plan into action,” Crowley said. “In the meantime, I’m going to get some sleep.” He found himself with a new problem, having never actually had a houseguest before. “I have a bed.”
“Well, that does make a place feel more like home.”
“I like to sleep,” Crowley said. “Just through the boring parts.” The small hours of the morning, in which no one awake was up to any good, were followed by the medium hours of the morning, in which no one awake was up to any bad, and Crowley preferred to skip those entirely.
Aziraphale raised one eyebrow. “Are you offering to share?”
“Don’t put it that way, demons don’t share. I’m … tempting you to indulge in sloth.”
“At this point, you don’t have to tempt very hard.” Aziraphale looked tired, and also sad, and Crowley found himself wishing that it hadn’t taken so long for Aziraphale to catch on that his superiors were essentially bastards. Aziraphale had the fixed idea that heaven was in favor of being nice to other people, to which Crowley had two responses, one: that didn’t work out too well for that poor bugger who got nailed to a cross, did it, and, two: they mean humans, they don’t mean you.
He couldn’t manage to say either of those things in the face of Aziraphale’s expression, and turned his back so that he could stop looking at it. “It’s through here.”
He climbed into bed and tried not to huddle under the blankets, because huddling did not fit his sense of how a demon of the world ought to react to the day’s events. On the other side of the bed, Aziraphale was doing something that probably could also be described as huddling. Crowley waved a hand and put out the light so that both of them could huddle without being observed doing it.
“You know,” Aziraphale began, and then stopped, a conversational tactic that he obviously knew Crowley wouldn’t be able to resist, the bastard.
“Do I know what?” He tried out the idea that what he was doing was lurking rather than huddling. It was probably possible to lurk while wrapped up in a blanket tucked under your chin.
“My side actually accused me of consorting with a demon.”
“Well, you have been, haven’t you?”
“I think consorting is something a bit more personal.”
“This is personal,” Crowley couldn’t stop himself from protesting.
“Well, yes. Because we’re friends.”
“You admit that we’re friends,” Crowley said, seizing on that immediately.
“Yes, we have been friends, and I’ve been … limited in my thinking on that matter.”
“Well, then,” Crowley said with a certain amount of satisfaction. “I like it when you admit I’m right.”
“But I still think that’s associating. Perhaps even fraternizing.”
“No, I think fraternizing is when you’re fucking.”
“That’s not how angels typically describe the act in question,” Aziraphale said, and cleared his throat. “Anyway, I thought that was consorting.”
Crowley threw up his hands. “I don’t know. Your point is?”
“I’m not sure I have one,” Aziraphale said. There was a long silence, which he probably still knew that Crowley wasn’t going to be able to resist filling.
“We’re not consorting. Or fraternizing. Whichever one.”
“No, certainly not.”
“I mean, your side disapproves of that sort of thing, to start with.”
“Well, in your case, certainly. Demons are beyond the pale.”
“I meant more generally.”
“Not what you’d call consistently. There are human rules, but those are for humans, aren’t they? And even those rules are more like … traffic regulations meant to keep people from crashing into one another and having horrible accidents, not universal truths. I’ve always felt that a certain amount of disobedience to the rules of particular cultures is healthy for humans. It makes them less likely to obey truly misguided orders.”
“Sometimes, I suppose,” Crowley granted.
“And of course there’s love—”
“Speaking of four-letter words.”
“Which is decidedly a good thing, and often closely related. So, on balance …”
Crowley’s side was, of course, in favor of breaking rules on general principle, although they generally meant for humans to do the rule-breaking. “Have we both been encouraging humans to have sex, then? That’s awkward.”
“They don’t generally need much encouraging.”
“No, not in my experience. I mean, to consort with one another.”
“I would have thought it would be entirely demonically appropriate to consort with humans.”
“It is, of course,” Crowley said. He’d tried sex, he basically approved of orgasms, but there was something essentially weird about having sex with humans, for the same reasons, he felt, that wolves didn’t have intimate moments with sheep. And there weren’t any demons he liked that much.
“And, occasionally, angelically appropriate.”
“Are you saying you’ve been consorting with humans?” Crowley felt unreasonably annoyed by that. “I thought you said you just went to that club of yours for dancing lessons.”
“There’s such a thing as a metaphor.”
“Well, then, I suppose you know all about it.”
There was a pause. “All about what?”
“And there’s no more that needs to be said.”
“You know, you’re right,” Aziraphale said. “Perhaps we ought to get some sleep, instead.”
The thing that Crowley was the most annoyed about, he decided after several minutes of not sleeping, wasn’t the fact that Aziraphale had been consorting with humans. It was the fact that he’d spent all this time trying to tempt Aziraphale into consorting with him, and apparently Aziraphale had spent that time doing the metaphysical equivalent of a shepherd developing inappropriate feelings for sheep.
“It seems to me,” Aziraphale said, long after Crowley had been sure he was asleep, and Crowley kissed him to shut him up.
It began as a chaste but angry kiss, and very quickly became a far less chaste but still angry kiss. Both of them seemed to have made the mutual decision that if they were substituting groping each other for conversation, they might as well be equipped to enjoy that.
Crowley would have expected kissing an angel to be different from kissing humans if he had allowed himself to think about that kind of thing with regard to Aziraphale, which he hadn’t, not since it had become clear to him that he could make himself seriously miserable that way if he wasn’t careful. As that had been sometime in the third century, the reality of just how different kissing an angel was hit him like an entirely unexpected ton of bricks.
It felt right, everything about this felt right, from Aziraphale’s mouth hungry on his own to the drag of their bodies against each other as he ground down with his hips to the sense of power and danger and scalding light that sizzled just under Aziraphale’s skin at the touch of his own.
“Too many clothes,” Aziraphale said hoarsely, and Crowley sent them away, not caring right now that he’d have to find a way to get them back in the morning. There was an angel’s hard cock rubbing against his belly, and that was very, very wrong, which might mean that from his point of view it was actually right, but he wasn’t up for figuring things like that out at the moment.
It would have been a good moment to show off his prowess, or to make some kind of cutting and witty remark, or at least to attempt to get the upper hand in some conclusive way. Instead he found himself wrapped around Aziraphale arching desperately up into Aziraphale’s hand. He bent his head and bit Aziraphale’s throat, and the angel moaned in what he felt reasonably sure was pleasure. Anyway, if Aziraphale had objected, he probably wouldn’t have grappled Crowley closer and maneuvered so that he could thrust his hard cock in between Crowley’s thighs.
“Old-fashioned,” Crowley said, although he wasn’t objecting.
“I don’t always keep up with the times,” Aziraphale said, and began to thrust between his thighs in earnest. It felt good, Aziraphale’s hand on him felt good, orgasms were definitely on the menu, and everywhere that their bodies touched, Crowley could still feel that unsettling sense of power like badly banked fire. “You do know, don’t you …” Aziraphale began, in a different tone, and Crowley put a hand on his chest to still him as long as he insisted on talking.
“Are we actually going to have another debate about the ethics of sex?”
“No, it’s just that I’m wondering if I should say … I mean, surely I don’t have to say …” Aziraphale seemed uncharacteristically at a loss for words, and then kissed him, a slower and much more deliberate kiss. Crowley could feel Aziraphale’s breath against his cheek when he drew away. “I mean, it’s all clear enough now, isn’t it?”
“You tell me,” Crowley said, from between gritted teeth. “Your people invented it.”
“Surely not sex. One can argue that metaphorically, that was you.”
“I just said, ‘eat the apple,’ I didn’t think the apple was a metaphor at the time. No, I mean … the other thing.”
“Do you really want me to say it?” Aziraphale said, sounding as if he weren’t sure what answer he preferred.
Crowley examined the question with the caution it deserved, and decided that even if he admitted he’d been engaged in a pursuit that might have some kind of appallingly romantic moment as its ultimate finish line, it didn’t feel satisfying to stumble across that finish line the night after averting the Apocalypse with the question of whether they’d survive the following day still entirely unresolved. “Not tonight.”
“That’s what I thought.”
“You might change your mind, anyway.”
“Not likely, after all this time,” Aziraphale said.
Crowley found himself abruptly adjusting his perception of a number of events in the last couple of centuries. He had been certain that he’d been spending those centuries trying to arrange opportunities for Aziraphale to develop un-angelic feelings for him, and wasn’t sure what to make of the idea that Aziraphale might actually have harbored those feelings for decades and still managed to resist doing anything about them.
“I am rubbish at temptation,” Crowley said bitterly.
“You have an angel in your bed,” Aziraphale pointed out, in the patient tone he usually reserved for mortals who were particularly slow on the uptake.
“This is more of a mutual series of bad decisions,” Crowley said.
He felt on much firmer ground with bad decisions. “Speaking of four-letter words, can we get back to fucking?”
“Unless it spoils things for you to think that you’re not corrupting me with meaningless sex,” Aziraphale said.
“Well, I am corrupting you.”
“Technically, it seems to me—”
“Can it wait?” Crowley said, and guided Aziraphale’s hand pointedly downwards.
“Well, yes,” Aziraphale said, and seemed to remember what he had been doing. “One thing at a time.”
Aziraphale finished first, thrusting hungrily between Crowley’s thighs until he finally stilled with a satisfied moan, which Crowley felt was unangelically selfish for the few seconds before Aziraphale slid down Crowley’s body to take him into his mouth. Crowley felt that if this was an example of the sort of skills practiced in discreet gentlemen’s clubs, he took back several centuries of describing Aziraphale’s taste in friends as “stuffy.”
At the end, everything felt too intense, Crowley’s body doing things he didn’t mean for it to do, shuddering and arching up into Aziraphale’s grip, Aziraphale’s mouth on him wet and hot. He couldn’t help thinking about the touch of holy water, and that only made him shudder harder and want more. It felt like going up in flames, and then like burning light, and then, unmistakably, like having the most intense orgasm of his existence with an angel’s name on his lips.
“You,” he said when he could breathe again, because that was safer than any of the other things that came to mind. He let his hand rest on Aziraphale’s hair.
Aziraphale shifted up and into Crowley’s arms, which—after a moment of awkwardly trying to decide where all the elbows went—felt treacherously natural. Aziraphale pulled the blankets up. It was possible, Crowley felt, that they were now huddling under the blankets together, but at least that meant that neither of them was in a position to judge.
“Tomorrow,” Aziraphale said after a while, a note of doubt creeping back into his voice.
“We’ll manage tomorrow,” Crowley said. At the moment, he felt tremendous unearned confidence that they could take on both the forces of heaven and hell and come out cheerfully having made fools of them both.
“I’m supposed to be the optimist.”
“The world didn’t end today,” Crowley pointed out. “That’s pretty good.”
“I like the world,” Aziraphale agreed, and put his head on Crowley’s shoulder.
“You and me both, angel,” Crowley said, and hoped it would all still be there in the morning.