How swift the universe is when it decides to unsettle everything, oust the comfortable old and suture in something fresh and open and bleeding too many possibilities. Their’s was an Arrangement, a mutual distrust weak enough to embolden the very antithesis of that, until it reached a fever pitch, thrust them up, pulled them down, and anchored them to this in-between, alone and together and frightfully new. They had the Arrangement, but this is something entirely rearranged, sifted through by infallibly fateful fingers and sorted into patterns previously impossible to conceive. Both angel and demon watch, distant viewers in a cosmic theater, as impossible pieces shift and click into place. And when the whole finally presents itself, both are struck dumb by the idea it could have been any other way, that it ever was.
Really, it would be far easier that it had never been, that they could cast from their burdened history the very facts and disarrays that comprise it altogether. Then they might not have to worry so much. Then it always could have been them. Just them. No Heaven or Hell, no side but theirs and the myriad fantastic inanities that bring their very inherent nature’s into question. They’ve had their fair share of those in the last week, enough for another eternity, so douse the new ones taking root with bad wine and soft, aimless conversation at a bus stop under starless clouds. They’ve seen enough of the sky’s talents today, anyway.
The postman comes, goes. Crowley catches the sound of gravel crunching and whims the bus onto another route, reassuring Aziraphale when he notices it, too.
There’s a chance for banter, there, Crowley sets it up with his droll tone, hoping his friend will take the bait and they can ease into a less tense state of things.
Instead, the angel sighs.
“Suppose I should get him to drop me off at the bookshop,” he says.
Crowley, his heart plummeting, turns to his friend. A frantic second suspends itself for him to make a decision, to make a miracle maybe, but what can he offer there, really. What is there except honesty in all of this?
“It burned down,” he says. “Remember?”
Defeat makes a concerted effort to tarnish Aziraphale’s already exhausted face, but the angel is too resilient for that, and it settles into resignation, instead, and then a slight confusion, and… relief? Yes, tarrying in his eyes as they flit, so uncertain, but the worry lines around them relax, and Crowley stumbles after them, desperate to keep his friend from those unplumbed reaches of the new world around them.
“You can stay at my place. If you like.”
Hope, now, and such relief, but Aziraphale still clings to the last vestiges of what he’s known, what he’s always known, even now, even when it’s no longer there.
“I don’t think my side would like that.”
If nothing else, Crowley will sever that last cord, even if it means losing him. Better them un-tethered than tattered in chains.
He says it on a smile, the one that always wins, but this is untread ground, so he’s really throwing it to chance.
“You don’t have a side anymore.”
Aziraphale fixes onto him such large, wondering eyes.
“Neither of us do.”
And a last, pleading lifeline.
“We’re on our own side.”
Relief, reverent and warm, unburdens every mistrusting shadow in the angel’s visage, and although he doesn’t smile, the soul of one perches between his lips, waiting there to be coaxed out. And Crowley has all night to do so.
The bus ride indulges little fanfare. When the vehicle plods onto the A40 with an accompanying susurrus of confusion passing from the mouths of midnight riders, Crowley frowns, and they settle down. Beside him, Aziraphale chuckles, but his accompanying smile is wan, doomed to failure by virtue of the fears they won’t yet voice. Because sides still implicate opposition. They were never against one another, give or take a few tedious decades. They had the pretense of Heaven and Hell for that, their respective bodies to report to and who provided plausible deniability, as necessary as it was tenuous for both sides to continue operating. Presently, they are very undeniable. The two of them against it all.
As if sharing the same thought, Aziraphale exchanges his short lived mirth for a wearying sigh and lets his head fall onto Crowley’s shoulder. On instinct, and a rather human one at that though he chooses not to parse this, Crowley lifts his hand from his lap and wanders it to Aziraphale’s, resting it on his thigh. The angel sighs again, but there is no unpleasantry to it this time. It is a complete sound, certain and reassured by these simple, decisive actions.
They do not talk. That is for later, whenever such a time might arrive. For now, there’s the bus, trundling along down the carriageway with its discreetly disgruntled riders, and Aziraphale beside him, tired and perfect and everything Crowley needs.
Sometime during the journey, the angel moves his hand to Crowley’s and weaves their fingers together. A spell after that, Crowley turns his head just a little, just enough, and rests his cheek atop Aziraphale’s curls. When the lights of London creep into view, its buildings vaulting suddenly up on all sides, Crowley has the urge to suggest time bugger off for a bit and let them enjoy the simplicity of dozing on public transport, but that’s probably too great a task to demand, especially after today.
He allows the bus to ferry them onward, and only nudges Aziraphale awake when it squeaks to a stop outside the rise of severe apartments Crowley calls his home. Well, ‘his place’, anyway, but even that’s tentative. Increasingly, he’s starting to realize the shiftless dynamic of his life, that his place is considerably more nowhere, and nothing really makes sense until he’s beside Aziraphale. It takes a great effort not to cling to the angel’s arm as they exit the bus.
Around them, the midnight city looms, all skyward silhouettes and blending lights cascading down into spotlight pools on the pavement. They stand just shy of one, shrouded in the forgiving darkness with just enough light to see each other by.
“Are you alright,” Aziraphale asks softly. With his free hand, he reaches up and caresses Crowley’s cheek. Much in spite of himself, or maybe for that very fact altogether, the demon leans into the touch.
“Are you,” he murmurs into the angel’s palm.
A beat, and then those hands leave but quickly are replaced as Aziraphale slips his arms carefully around the demon’s waist, testing the boundaries that disintegrated hours ago, only to grip, fierce and fast, when Crowley, shuddering, hums his concession. The angel is just tall enough to press his face into Crowley’s collar, so he does, his hesitation turned suffering sigh of a reprieve six-thousand years in the making. Crowley could hold him for longer, and more, still.
“Do you think it’s possible,” the angel asks.
“Us,” he breathes, when Crowley cannot respond.
His throat is doing dangerous things, his eyes, his chest, the whole of his person flagging in the relentless storm of all this everything .
“I don’t know,” the demon whispers, but he holds Aziraphale tighter. This he does know. There’s resolution in his presence.
“I think it is,” Aziraphale says, warm and real and present. “I think it always has been.”
He shifts his head, sighs against Crowley’s neck.
“I don’t think we’ve… that we’ve ever truly been one or the other, Crowley. I’m too tied up in you, there’s too much about me that I owe to you .”
“Angel,” Crowley says, tries to, but the lights, the night, all a blur in his vision, tears unshed for millennia welling up fast and free and sure … and his angel, so close and closer still, ablaze in his embrace with beautiful, defiant conviction, his voice a thunderous rebuttal to the choirs above, the screams below…
And the quietude. The simple act of being. Here. Them. With all they have loved and sacrificed and cherished and resented together…
And how wondrously simple, then, to bring those parted lips to his trembling own, breathe the air his angel gasps so sweetly, let close his eyes to the world and welcome the heat of Aziraphale’s mouth, his hands as they weave up from the nape of his neck, tangle in his hair, and pull him closer, down, down ever down to their immaculate, fallen in-between.
Conversation falters to the favor of more delicate motions: Aziraphale’s lower lip between Crowley’s, staggered breaths shared and lost and swallowed again, a flick of tongue against teeth that part so eagerly. Clumsy, precious attempts to laugh as Crowley fumbles off his glasses, but the humor is lost on a groan that deepens the kiss more, more, and falling falling falling -
The disused, dense give of Crowley’s mattress catches them, well, mostly Aziraphale, leaving Crowley to sprawl on top of him. The shock of it earns an “oof!” from the angel, his eyes wide with such genuine surprise that Crowley laughs aloud.
“Well,” Aziraphale starts, and even in the dim light that slinks through the black pane windows to their right, his blush is visible. “This is all very -”
Crowley does not allow him to finish, diving back down, bracing himself on one hand as he caresses Aziraphale’s cheek with the other. He tilts the angel’s chin upward to meet his smile, and too easily lets it melt into a slack “o” as Aziraphale kisses back, still ever so careful, but losing trepidation as instinct - warm and demanding - claims them in its velvet embrace.
At length, Crowley pulls away, just an inch or two, so he might admire the mess he’s made of his angel. And, indeed, already he is a picture: hair mussed, eyes half lidded, mouth parted to accommodate shallow, desperate breaths. Crowley brushes his lips there, devours the sigh that results.
“Are you okay,” he murmurs.
Aziraphale manages a weak laugh, his voice already straining.
“More than I’ve ever been,” he answers.
Crowley dusts kisses along his jaw, tracing upward to his ear where he asks again, words gone to a low, tempting whisper, “Are you sure?”
“Crowley…” Aziraphale groans, and turns his head to meet the demon, capturing his mouth again.
It’s such a lovely, decadent thing to kiss him, with every clever flick of tongue, something fleeting and sweet fills Crowley’s mouth, recalling him to pastorals of endless meadows forever adorned in dew. And violets. Yes, that’s it, as unassumingly small and precocious as the flower’s nectar is an ephemeral treat, but perhaps it wouldn’t quite suit the moment to go mumbling flowery poetics. It is precious, yes, but there is a growing heat between them, an undeniable flare of pent up passions, and not just of carnal inclinations, either. It’s everything. Today, last week, eleven years ago, millennia upon millennia, all the hours and eons that Crowley has spent languishing in his love - yes, love - for a being wholly inclined - expected, even - to rebuke him every step of the way. Yet here they are, even the best odds against them bested, and a whole eternity to amend what was ignored for so very, very long.
It’s barely a murmur, and almost immediately lost to the tangle of moans between them. But the moment is not so easily deterred, and Aziraphale stills. Neither pulls away, and Crowley could just as quickly dip back down and resume his poetic ponderings, but it isn’t apprehension that has caused their reticence, so he waits.
After a laborious few seconds, Aziraphale gives.
“Tell me,” he urges, so quietly, so kindly, and Crowley gasps when suddenly the angel pushes his hands beneath his jacket, his shirt, soothes them over the small of his back with a grip just shy of possessive.
“Have me,” Crowley tries again. “T-take me, whatever you want to call it, Angel, just - please, please .”
“Oh, my dear -” Aziraphale starts, but once more is thwarted as Crowley kisses him, every ounce of restraint relinquished to the aching needs of his body.
“Yesss,” he moans when Aziraphale rucks his shirt further up and digs his nails into the delicate skin between his shoulder blades.
He dares to let his hips press down, arch against Aziraphale’s in an undeniable friction, and the angel jerks bodily beneath him, mouth stuttering against Crowley’s. Enthralled, the demon repeats the action, threading his fingers into Aziraphale’s hair as he does, gripping hard and fast as they gasp together and let their bodies find their own rhythms.
It’s wondrous and unsatisfying in equal, thrilling measure, and although Crowley craves more, wants his angel to know him in every way that pleasure can be so deliciously inflicted, if this is all they accomplish tonight, it will be more satisfaction than Crowley has known in his entire lifetime. He could last eternity here, all heat and expectation and still so much to be found teetering on this edge. He’ll let Aziraphale decide if he wants to push them over, send them plummeting. In fact, that decision arrives within seconds.
“Crowley,” the angel murmurs, his voice harsh and heavy, and his hands slide back down the demon’s spine, fingers testing beneath the band of his trousers. When no objection is forthcoming (the very opposite, in fact, save Crowley’s responding shiver is more a rush of heat to the bottom of his twisting stomach than any physical tell), Aziraphale curls those fingers around the bony jut of Crowley’s hips, teases his nails at the soft skin there before removing them and instead venturing his palms against the demon’s thighs, and then between, coaxing them further apart.
“Angel…” Crowley groans, and nearly bites through his lower lip as Aziraphale teases with cautious movements, the heel of his hand massaging between his legs.
“Do you -?” Aziraphale starts, but Crowley is tired of wasting time on these frivolous questions, so silences the angel with a furious, answering kiss and an equally vehement roll of his hips.
“Oh…” Aziraphale breathes, and again “oh” as Crowley reaches between them and fumbles with the buttons of his trousers.
It’s preciously juvenile, two immortal beings so new each other like this, but Crowley staves off the worst of the awkwardness with heavy, messy kisses, the prowess of his tongue compensating for his ignorance otherwise. He would very much like to demonstrate its other talents, but that seems a bit too base, a more indecent indulgence for later, when they’ve better learned each other. And, when he works Aziraphale’s cock free of his trousers, then himself, and sans much thought takes them both together in the grip of his long fingers, he rather forgets entirely other acts exist beyond this. The rush of sweet warmth that fills his stomach, races down his legs to the tips of his toes, sighs up the back of his neck and thrusts a helpless keen from his lungs… he could chase this feeling forever. He will. Both of them will. Here. Tonight. Now. It is only them, and it is all Crowley needs.
He strokes slowly, and Aziraphale sighs beneath him.
Crowley leans down, presses his forehead to the angel’s and asks, “Is that good?”
“Yes,” Aziraphale breathes. “Yes yes.”
Crowley grins, flicks his thumb, and relishes in the gasp he earns.
“You’re beautiful, Angel.”
This receives a laugh, hoarse and airy, but amused nonetheless, and Aziraphale pulls him into a kiss. It falters when Crowley tugs his hand, but it’s not enough to spoil the sweetness, the closeness of this pleasure, the innocence in it.
And yet, he wants more. Even in the foreign expanse of their relationship, it would be a shame to relegate themselves to just this, a desperate fumble searching for clumsy release. He wants more of his angel, wants the ardor of their bodies met as one, wants the frenzy of making love, the vulnerability, the sheer humanness of it all. There is much to contend with that, besides.
With a great effort, he manages to pull away from Aziraphale’s oh so tempting mouth, and sits up.
“Crowley-?” Aziraphale starts, but promptly is silenced, Crowley fixing a ravenous stare made all the more voracious by the midnight shadows around them.
Still wordless, still watching, the demon sets his hands to work on the buttons of Aziraphale’s waistcoat, then his shirt, until finally the angel gathers enough of himself and, propping himself on his elbows, divests his jacket along with the other offending items.
He next makes to help Crowley, and the demon considers stopping him just to put on a show, but infinitely more gratifying is the tenderness with which Aziraphale touches him, places his palm on Crowley’s chest, traipses his fingertips down his sternum, fans them out, and encourages Crowley’s jacket to drape off his shoulders in a pool of fabric. His shirts follow suit, and, oh, now it’s just the trousers to consider, but the mere thought of removing himself from Aziraphale’s lap yawns a greater feat of agony than even Hell’s most creative torments, and despite the report that might show up at Head Office (if they’re still keeping track of his frivolous miracles) Crowley whims away the last vestiges of their propriety.
“You’re lovely, my dear,” Aziraphale breathes, as though failing to consider his own ethereal beauty.
It’s such a strange shame associated with nakedness, a contrived human construct, of course, and one Crowley deeply regrets inspiring in his temptation of Eve. Such an unfortunate vilification of the body, a vessel so immaculately suited to receive touch and adoration, to be admired through yearning eyes and tasted with worshipful teeth and discovered with tongue and fingers and lips and more…
Beautiful, Aziraphale says, and if only he could see himself, see what he offers to Crowley in return. There have been a select few times they’ve assumed their immortal forms, but in the throes of this bewitching hour and with so much time to explore each other, enjoy one another, bodies of light and gossamer wings compare very little to the decadence of the human flesh they have chosen over everything else, and chosen to share.
In another six millennia and thousands more still, there could not exist the words necessary for Crowley to tell Aziraphale this, not how he needs to, but he can show him, can bring his angel to the sweetest supplications and entice far more reverent prayers from those lips than any angelic choir has ever dreamed to sing.
And so, wordless with aching intent racing through his pulse, Crowley guides Aziraphale’s hands, first to his thighs, and then his hips and, there, yes, the angel understands, and he holds fast, just enough to suggest he might hurt if either feels inclined to such wild abandon. And certainly they will, just not tonight. This is for something gentle, for things untouched and unfelt to luxuriate their disused senses and bring them ever closer to that final edge where neither Heaven nor Hell can shackle them again.
Aziraphale moves, kneads his thumbs at the shallow hollows of Crowley’s waist, watches for a response, and when he receives it - Crowley closing his eyes and letting his mouth slack in a silent “ ah ” - he ventures them further around, down, and anchors them fast to the backs of Crowley’s thighs, gives a small tug and a grin for the scandalized look Crowley shoots at him.
“Very cheeky,” the demon says, and dips down to steal a kiss.
Aziraphale hums against his lips and continues exploring, massaging with his palms, kneading with his fingers, occasionally stamping in bites with his nails or a nip with his teeth at Crowley’s jaw. It’s all very playful. Very Aziraphale. Though he’s hardly innocent, and as Crowley - growing impatient now - weighs the option of whispering something truly salacious in the angel’s ear, see what kind of rise that would result in, Aziraphale takes his own unexpected initiative, and Crowley loses his balance entirely, arms giving way to let him collapse against the angel’s chest.
“There we are,” Aziraphale hushes, slipping a second, slick finger inside of him, curling it expertly, wrenching a deep groan from Crowley’s throat.
“Gracious, my dear,” the angel whispers, thrusting slowly enough to invite Crowley to make use of his own movements. “I can see why this is one of the more favored sins.”
“S’if you haven’t done this before,” gasps Crowley, but the whimper it’s delivered on lends little credence to any implied accusation.
“Well yes,” the angel answers, and moves his mouth to Crowley’s ear, his breath tickling, goading, somehow the most indecent of the pleasures he is visiting upon the demon. “But you are quite something else, Crowley.”
There’s a metaphor in there somewhere, in all of this, a grand cosmic connection to these base actions and their greater sedition. Possibly that’s always implied when making love to an angel, although there can’t have been enough times that’s happened to warrant such a philosophy. As well, it’s presently rather less of a mutual effort, and although Crowley could gladly spend the night like this, fucking himself on Aziraphale’s fingers, he needs more, wants to give his angel every possible pleasure, hear him moan in ecstasy, feel him deep inside, savor his release, over and over again until they cannot move.
Again, he cannot say this. Again, he favors actions over words, just barely succeeding in lifting himself upright, his arms trembling terribly, but Aziraphale - oh so cruelly, so slowly removing his fingers - takes hold of his waist to steady him, to ground him.
“Are you alright,” he murmurs.
It’s not a question for the answer is already straddling him with steadily dwindling self restraint, but Aziraphale is nothing if not infinitely empathetic, his patience as virtuous as his soul is now tarnished in blasphemy. Crowley knows he would wait until the end and beyond for him. They have done so already.
So he answers with his eyes, searching covetously, his mouth, breath all stuttered inhales and exhales against the angel’s neck, beneath his jaw. With shaking hands and a vice-like grip of his legs. With a moan so melodic and broken and whole for its scattered, reverential pieces when Aziraphale enters him fully, guides his hips, holds him down, down hard and fast and secure and complete…
“ Angel… ”
“ I have you.”
They move as one, Crowley’s spine a contrite arch as he buries his face in Aziraphale’s collar and lavishes bruises over the tender flesh there, only occasionally bowing inward when the angel aims a particularly fantastic thrust. As he is with everything, Aziraphale approaches their love making with delicate caution, ensuring he inflicts no pain even when Crowley whines for more: more friction, more speed, more everything . Aziraphale offers that, yes, but at his own pace. Whereas fire licks down Crowley’s limbs and flares, dangerous and potent, in the pit of his stomach, Aziraphale permits only the most demure moans, the kindest smiles with barely a hint of something smoldering and sultry. Crowley chases it, ferrets it out with dangerous grazes of teeth, determined rolls of his hips, pants and whimpers that would make a saint blush. Both angel and demon are world’s apart from such piety, anymore, so seek their own resolutions, in each other, in their bodies, writhing and gasping until that final blaze consumes their movements and suspends them in the bliss of an absolution only two such Fallen entities could together forge.
The world returns in wary increments, nervous to yet tread the space so furiously alive around them. Crowley, collapsed entirely, pulling shallow, panting gasps as Aziraphale strokes his hair, basks none too discreetly in the glow of their pleasure, a bone deep contentment suffusing his body entire, and, oh, if he could just forestall the morning and hold in cherished quiescence the simplicity of what they have just shared. Nothing exactly threatens to wrench it from his person come sunrise, but there are consequences yet unapproached, dissents to be rectified. It’s a long road ahead, still, and he is so tired.
And then Aziraphale kisses him, a humid touch of smiling lips to his temple, and the demon’s woes dispel for another moment more, and another and another as the angel holds him, caresses him, sighs nothings of the sweetest sort at the nape of his neck as he guides Crowley to the side, onto the bed proper, and envelops him in radiant warmth. If he harbors similar apprehensions, he chooses not to burden Crowley with them. And if he doesn’t, well all the better for it. It means they’ve found a way, their own way, and so can spare a short spell, a single evening. They have well earned a few hours amidst the millennia - a reprieve. A chance.
And maybe, hopefully, certainly, as an angel holds his demon close, as kisses expire to shallow, sleeping sounds, and the sun vouchsafes an extra hour before peeking into the flat, there will be a lifetime for them yet.