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Lost in Translation

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Lost in Translation

 

Days after the end of the world… 1.

 

An angel and a demon were sitting on a wooden bench in St. James park tossing chunks of still-warm bread at the wildlife. They had argued about it; birds have brains the size of a pea and don't give a damn about freshness. The angel sighed, the demon conceded, the earth kept spinning despite all good reason, and the ducks got fat. 

 

***

 

Days after the end of the world… 2.

 

“My word, you’re certainly spoiling me today.”

Aziraphale beamed at Crowley, and then at their shared table where a luscious goose liver paté had been delivered alongside a pile of stiff truffle crackers paired with Port. He had round, soft cheeks already red from the wine, a halo of short blonde curls, and a penchant for tartan. He was sturdy and warm. Crowley, on the other hand, seemed a little too bendy and a lot bit bony; starving, but never looking at the food.

Too close to touching something dangerous inside his chest, Crowley summoned the waiter with a flick of the wrist. Second course, wine. Third, fourth, fifth. Dessert was a selection of indulgent petit fours and bitter coffee. Aziraphale loved dinner and Crowley loved Aziraphale. “You should try the lobster, I’ve heard it’s a treat.”

 

***

   

Days after the end of the world… 3.

 

The restaurant was light and airy and wonderful. White linens, white dishes, white sunshine filling the entire room. Aziraphale’s plump hands were gentle and pink. Crowley swallowed the desperate urge to press his lips to each knuckle, each freckled forearm, the soft swell of chin… cheeks… chest… He bit his tongue. 

“Lord I—oh, my apologies—” Aziraphale looked skyward out of habit, a somewhat contrite blasphemer “—I can’t eat another bite.” He looked full and happy. “I’m still not sure why you insisted on lobster after having it yesterday.”

“You enjoyed it again today, didn’t you?” Crowley shrugged, liar that he was. “The world’s our oyster now, angel. I’ll take you wherever you want. Hell, I’ll take you whenever you want. Fancy new trick, that. We should take it for a test drive.”

“Crowley…” Aziraphale looked at him carefully. “Are you alright?”

“Me? Yes, ‘course. Swimming.”

“You’re being odd.”

Odd. That was a word for it. The world had almost ended. For a moment, Crowley’s world had actually ended. Standing in a burning bookshop, screaming until his throat was raw, believing in his bones that he’d never get to tell Aziraphale… nothing. Because there were no words for what he wanted to say. No, there were only truths that he wanted to kiss into Aziraphale’s buttery-soft wrists, bite into the meat of his thighs, dig into the hum of his hips. Things he could only say with teeth; only spell bruised into silvering stretchmarks and soft belly down.

“Oysters!” Crowley banged the table, ignoring the way Aziraphale flinched. “You were big into those back in the day. Let’s go tomorrow, hell, let’s go to Rome.”

 

***

 

Days after the end of the world… 4.

 

They were in Rome. Aziraphale was worried and Crowley was falling apart. There was a platter of three-dozen near untouched oysters between them, four bottles of wine that Aziraphale had been turning to water all evening. Crowley’s eyes were wild, sunglasses aside, mortals be damned. They were dining outside on a grand stone patio, tourists in every possible direction. Crowley was dangerously drunk and Aziraphale was very, very sober.

“If you don’t want those, I can—we can—anything you want, I’ll just…” Crowley snapped his fingers vaguely at the empty air. “I can give you everything if you want.”

“I don’t know exactly what this is all about, but—”

“Please…” He was grabbing at Aziraphale’s sleeves, “Just eat.”

“I’m not hungry, Crowley!”

“Then maybe… maybe I’ll just...” Crowley pushed off from the table, stumbling over his own feet. “Find someone who is, then. I can feed the whole damn world now, can’t I?” 

“Sit down!” Aziraphale hissed, glancing at the people staring.

Crowley swayed slightly left and opened his mouth to say something, but Aziraphale snapped his fingers and he crumpled unconscious to the pavement.

 

***

 

Days after the end of the world… 5.

 

It was a little past eight in the morning when Aziraphale arrived outside of his bookshop, Crowley slumped against his side. He put Crowley to bed on a worn leather chaise, topped him with a heap of unnecessary blankets and placed a tall glass of cold water nearby. He pulled a chair bedside and sat in it, observing. Same sharp nose, same sharp cheekbones, same sharp Crowley. But something had changed. He didn’t look at Aziraphale like he used to; softly, with warmth. Now, he looked haunted.

Crowley slept past lunch, dinner, and breakfast. Aziraphale watched on.

 

***

 

Days after the end of the world… 6.

 

Crowley opened his eyes.

“You’re awake,” Aziraphale said, skipping good morning and shoving a hot mug of unsugared Columbian into Crowley’s veiny hands. “I… you were... I was worried.”

There were a hundred things Crowley could have said. He could have explained himself, excused himself, justified the who, what, why, where, or when. But then there was Aziraphale, hovering hennishly over him, wrapped in a dated blue housecoat, having made fresh, unconjured coffee. His forehead was wrinkled in a worried frown, his lips were dry, his eyes were kind, he was so… just so.

Crowley set his mug on the closest end table. He didn’t trust anything he might say so he said nothing, stood up, and stared at the thousand memories trapped in the aging crow's feet of Aziraphale’s smile. He remembered every single one like he remembered every single ‘spot of lunch’ and ‘touch of tea’ and ‘you’re spoiling me, Crowley’. Aziraphale’s soft mortal body was the braille of their mutual existence and Crowley had never learned how to say ‘I love you’ and so he learned to say seconds, and refills, and ‘the dessert menu’, instead. His love language became snark and cynicism, late evenings, fine wine, hitting the breaks when he wanted the gas, again and again, until the world was ending, and then all he wanted was more time.

“What…?”

“Let me.” It wasn’t a question but a breathless grunt of appropriation. Crowley’s hands were spanning the width of Aziraphale cheekbones, pressing a little too hard into the give of his jowls. His neck, thick. His shoulders, thicker. His chest, sagging in all the proper places; a speckle, a freckle, a hair. Crowley pushed the housecoat from his shoulders, dug his unworthy fingers into the bulk of Aziraphale’s pampered frame.

Aziraphale was fat, and flush, and present, and Crowley’s hands were desperate for purpose. He didn’t kiss him because he couldn’t survive the romance of it, pressing his cheek only close enough to scent the divinity at the corners; careless coffee, cream.

Crowley dragged Aziraphale down to the threadbare carpet and shoved his mouth against the shadow of a nipple under cotton. He sucked through the fabric until he could see past it, sodden, ruddy, red, puffy. Aziraphale moaned for the first time since existing and Crowley was ready to die drowning in the obscenity of that sound.

Left hand fisted in one of the blankets that had fallen from chaise to floor and right thumping the carpet, Aziraphale was a vision. His lip was raw and self-bitten, his forehead was damp, a wet bruise that Crowley hadn’t meant to brand him with purpling at his neck. When Crowley couldn’t strangle the breadth of Aziraphale’s calves he worshipped neck to knees instead. Anything Crowley couldn’t kiss he bit, teeth scenting skin through tweed and burning his name in every hungry hill.

“Let me.” He hissed for the second time and Aziraphale nodded, consenting to nothing and everything twice, please. Vest, tie, collar, slacks, socks, shoes. When there was nothing left between them but figurative acres of pale pink skin, Crowley’s hands started to shake. Wonder, in five vowels and a holy lifetime: Aziraphale.

“I’ve never—” Aziraphale was stuttering, “But I want—”

“Anything.”

“Kiss me.”

Anything but that.

Crowley mouthed down Aziraphale's naked chest, forked tongue leaving a shining trail of spit like a roadmap. The smell of his cock was clean but heavy, and the taste—salt, sweat, bitter precome—Crowley wanted to choke on it, and when Aziraphale’s hips jerked in reflex, he did. The blunt swell hitting the back of his throat bred an instant addiction. Crowley wanted it again, harder, faster, used until his jaw ached.

“I’m sorry! Are you—” Aziraphale stuttered and Crowley snarled.

He dragged himself off of Aziraphale’s cock to lick the soft skin of his sack, sucking the seam, burying his forehead against the gorgeous give of Aziraphale’s stomach. Crowley licked lower, dragging those shapely thighs apart and forcing his tongue into the rosy pearl of his asshole. Aziraphale was making needy noises that reach a desperate pitch when Crowley groaned against him, chin shining with spit.

“I’m—oh—!”

“That’s it, angel.”

Crowley licked deeper, harder, sloppier; a gaunt, undeserving fist wrapped around Aziraphale’s upcurve prick, jacking it in a phasmic blur. Aziraphale froze, keened, creamy spunk splashing on his belly. Crowley pressed his mouth to the mess, licking every murky, musky drop. He was achingly hard but still dressed, a wet patch in dark denim betraying the way worshipping Aziraphale’s body had made him leak.

“Please,” Aziraphale was trying to kiss him, but Crowley resisted, eyes panicky-wide and looking at anything that wasn’t Aziraphale’s thick lower lip.

Aziraphale noticed, and then he understood. “Oh. No, Crowley. No.”

If there were five vowels in a holy lifetime, there were five too in heartbreak. The way Aziraphale’s face crumpled as if he’d taken something he shouldn’t have, the way he reached for Crowley who scrambled back to avoid his touch. “Don’t say it.”

Please, please, please don’t say it.

Please don’t.

“How could you think I didn’t?” Aziraphale asked.

“Don’t—” Crowley’s voice cracked.

“I love you.”

And when Crowley folded to the floor, Aziraphale reached for him.

 

***

 

Days after the end of the world… 7.

 

“It was never about the food,” Aziraphale said. He was sitting in a chair opposite Crowley, their feet tangled together because touch was an easy anchor.

“I know.”

“Or the books, or the wine.”

“I know.” Crowley stared at the ceiling, and once he started, he couldn’t stop. “The world didn’t end for you, angel. But it ended for me.” He was so earnest. He needed him to understand. “You died, Aziraphale. And then you just… didn’t.”

“You could have told me.”

“I did.”

Aziraphale paused. He did, didn’t he? The meals, the drinks, the extravagancies, all the desperate ways he tried to press joy into everything Aziraphale touched. Year after year, century after century, a dance without steps that they had both memorized.

“I’m rather stupid,” said Aziraphale so abruptly and so matter-of-factly that Crowley laughed despite himself. It felt good. “I don’t suppose you’re at all surprised.”

“Nawww, figured that out after the whole bit with the flaming sword.”

“Crowley…”

“I know.” 

Crowley did know, even though they spoke a different language. For an hour that felt like seconds between beings who had nothing but eternity, they sat quietly, and when the silence felt right, they took a familiar walk. The angel sighed, the demon conceded, the earth kept spinning despite all good reason, and the ducks got fat.