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“Well,” Aziraphale said, coming to a stop outside the Ritz, “I suppose it’s back to the bookshop for me.”

“What?” said Crowley. Over the course of their lunch, it had somehow escaped his memory that there even was a bookshop to return to. “Oh, right. You don’t have to, you know. You could come back to mine again, if you like.”

He said it casually, with his hands in the pockets of his trousers and his head turned to the side to emphasise how much he truly did not care whether Aziraphale did or did not like. But he wasn’t looking so far away that he missed Aziraphale’s reaction: the fond glance he shot Crowley and that little smile he always got when Crowley had done something that was both surprising and pleasing.

Crowley nearly turned to smile back, equally as pleased and fond.

Then Aziraphale said, “Oh, I couldn’t. I’ve still so much to do. There’s the, um…well, the new shelf to be inventoried, and I…you know, I really should verify all the other books are present and accounted for. Besides, you know I almost never sleep.”

He had slept before, the night after the thwarted Apocalypse, in the guest room that Crowley had snapped into existence for the occasion. Not very long, of course, since they’d still had a great deal of strategizing to do, but just long enough that Aziraphale had emerged a couple of hours later with one side of his hair flattened and his cheek pillow-wrinkled.

Crowley shrugged. “All right. I’ll drop you off, then.”

“Actually, I think I’d rather walk,” said Aziraphale, bringing Crowley’s feet and brain to a screeching halt. “Such a lovely day and all. I’ve imposed entirely too much on your hospitality as it is.”

“My—” Crowley, who had never once dreamed he would be accused of having hospitality of all things, struggled to wrap his mind around the concept. “A lift and one night in a guest room isn’t exactly an imposition, angel. But if that’s what you’d prefer…”

“It is.”

It didn’t look it. Aziraphale’s smile had gone tight at the corners, and he was staring at the nosepiece of Crowley’s sunglasses like it would hide the fact that he was suddenly avoiding eye contact. But what could Crowley say, really? ‘Nope, sorry, now hold still while I stuff you into the car’?

“Right,” he said. “Well, er. I’ll call you?”

The tension in Aziraphale’s expression broke, giving way to a small but genuine smile. “I’d like that.”

And that was that. Crowley ambled to where he’d parked the Bentley, and Aziraphale wandered off to who knew where. The bookshop, presumably, but why he should behave so strangely about going to the bookshop was anyone’s guess.

Crowley didn’t care, and he reminded himself frequently of that fact on the drive to his flat. After all, why should he care? Aziraphale was his own person. It wasn’t like Crowley had endured hours in Aziraphale’s body, resigned to Aziraphale’s dubious sense of “style,” and then been dragged off to Heaven to save Aziraphale’s precious angelic skin. It wasn’t like they’d been millennia-long friends who owed each other, at the very least, a halfway decent attempt at lying when something was on their minds.

No. Crowley didn’t give a toss about any of that. Of course he didn’t.

His flat was dark and quiet, and impeccably clean. The mess of his pre-Armageddon preparations and what little had remained of Ligur had disappeared even before Aziraphale had got to it.

(“Oh, angel, watch out for the, er—”

“The what?”

“Nothing. Not a thing, apparently. Clever little Antichrist, isn’t he?”)

Even his mister was intact and sitting exactly where it should’ve been, although the plants themselves looked a bit…droopy.

“Are you slouching?” he said, whipping off his glasses. He spun in a slow circle to give each suddenly-trembling leaf a hard, demonic stare. The stalks shot up straight and perky, although the leaves continued quivering. “That’s right. You’d better stay that way, hadn’t you? Or I’ll give you something to slouch about.”

To drive his point further, he summoned the grating screech of metal-on-metal as he left the room.

He meant to go to his bedroom, to collapse on the mattress face-first and pass out for a good long while. His feet steered him instead towards the newly conceived guest room, and he stood for a moment in the doorway. The bed looked unused, not so much as a crease in the duvet to suggest Aziraphale had rested an hour or two beneath it.

Don’t, Crowley thought. For Satan’s sake, don’t.

But it didn’t matter. Like they had minds of their own, and it would be just his luck if they did, his feet were now carrying him across the room to the edge of the mattress. And once he was already there, well…

He climbed in and laid his head on one of the pillows, then the other one. He rolled this way and that, mashing his nose into every inch of fabric and sucking in breath after breath that he didn’t technically need, until— Oh, yes. There. That’s the spot.

It was barely a hint, not enough to notice if he hadn’t been searching for it. All angels smelled varying degrees of dusty and old-bookish, comforting and familiar in a way you couldn’t place. Or most people couldn’t, anyway. Crowley effortlessly placed this particular scent at Earth’s first rainy day six thousand years ago. He could still feel the warm shelter of Aziraphale’s wing above him.

Bastard, Crowley told himself. You poor, pathetic bastard. One measly little chat on top of a wall and now look at you.

At least there was no one there to witness this particular lapse. He couldn’t say the same about the last…oh, sixty or so lapses over the course of this week alone.

He nuzzled the faint bookish-smelling spot on the pillow, eyes closed, and proceeded to sleep for the better part of four days. He had, he believed, earned it.

He might’ve slept longer but for the fact that he didn’t entirely trust either Above or Below to do as they’d agreed. If he was to be dragged back for round two, he’d much prefer to be awake enough to put up a fight.

Besides, he had an angel to call.

 


 

“You what?” said Crowley, sounding as bewildered as he felt.

“Well—” There was a creak-ish sort of noise as if Aziraphale were shifting his bloody ancient telephone from one ear to another. “—it’s only that there’s so much to do, you know. The—the books on the, erm… And the customers, they’re… You understand how it is.”

“Not really.” Crowley was surprised it came out so calmly, when what he really wanted to do was shout, ‘Come off it already. I didn’t believe you before, and I definitely don’t believe you now. What the Heaven is going on?’

Aziraphale had never, in all the years they’d known each other, turned down a meal, even something as silly as a second brunch or a half-midnight dessert. He always accepted with a smile that lit up even the darkest, damnedest part of Crowley’s dark, damned soul, and went so far as to secure them a table at a restaurant of his own suggestion.

“No,” Aziraphale said, “I suppose you wouldn’t. Well, suffice it to say that owning a bookshop can be a lot of work.”

“Since when? You barely have operating hours. To call it a shop in the first place is pushing it. I mean, have you seen your reviews online?”

“Seen them, no. Had to listen to your dramatic readings, unfortunately yes. Now, Crowley, I really must insist on getting back to work. Adam’s sense of organization is, frankly—”

“Better than yours, I have no doubt, but yes, yes, fine.

Crowley jabbed his finger into the End Call button, hard enough the screen splintered and had to be swiftly repaired. Not his fault, really, that the only way to make angrily ringing off on a smartphone as satisfying as slamming down a receiver was to break it. They must’ve been Heaven’s work, these mobile phones, or—more likely—a human cock-up of Hell’s design.

He threw the phone down on his desk and stalked off, then reconsidered and doubled back to scoop it up again. Just in case Aziraphale changed his mind and rang back with apologies and explanations and at least one heartfelt my dear to soothe Crowley’s ire.

“‘You understand how it is,’” he mocked in Aziraphale’s prim tone. He seized his mister and began to water his plants. “And what am I supposed to do now, hm? No orders, no scrutiny from Below, for the first time in six thousand years, and he wants me to piss off so he can play with his books.”

Finally they could do away with the Arrangement, with alternative rendezvous, and with meeting up only when it was convenient to and easy to hide. They could spend all their time together, talk openly about friendship and favours, even live together if they wanted.

But we don’t want, do we? Crowley thought bitterly. Or rather, he doesn’t. Not that it matters to me. It doesn’t matter at all.

“Poor, pathetic bastard,” he muttered. “Poor, pathetic, deluded bastard.”

He realised he was getting a bit overzealous with the misting. His houseplants were beginning to droop once again, this time from the excess of gathered water droplets weighing down their leaves. He tossed the mister aside with a noise of self-disgust and glanced at his phone.

No calls. No text messages either, not that Aziraphale could manage such a thing.

Truly, what the Hell was he supposed to do now?

 


 

He spent the day doing something that might’ve resembled moping but certainly was not, and by the end of it he thought he’d figured out what was going on.

Angels, as a general rule, were a noble, self-sacrificing lot, and they excelled at denying themselves any whisper of a good time or suggestion of meaningless indulgence. Aziraphale had overcome the worst of it, but he still needed a solid push every now and again to keep him from backsliding.

And the self-sacrificing bit…well, that was hardcoded so deeply that even Crowley, who after all had been an angel once, sometimes felt twinges of it himself, especially of late.

So of course it made sense that Aziraphale, wanting to save Crowley from the wrath of Heaven, might insist on maintaining distance between the two of them. If one of the archangels came back for Aziraphale, as Crowley was worried about himself in the case of Hell, of course he would want Crowley well out of range of their smiting power.

Crowley wouldn’t stand for it. It defeated the purpose of being on their own side, separate of the two big ones, and it was just plain stupid besides.

Armed with an assortment of treats from Aziraphale’s favourite local patisserie, he barrelled through the streets of London in his Bentley and screeched to a stop in Soho outside the bookshop. Closed, said the sign in the window, and all the blinds were lowered, but that wasn’t out of the ordinary for…well, any time of the day, actually.

Pastry box in hand, Crowley sauntered to the door and tried to throw it open as usual. It resisted, locked more securely than it had ever been. Gritting his teeth, he pounded on it.

While he waited for an answer, he mentally rehearsed the way he would remind Aziraphale how badly everything had gone the last time he’d tried to leave Crowley out and how things had only begun to turn around once they’d finally got on the same page.

Then as the seconds ticked by and the door remained closed, the shop silent, his artfully constructed argument started to fray and his anger—pure anger, of course, not the sort that masked any other, more pitiful emotion—built. He beat his fist harder, rattling the door in its frame.

“Aziraphale!” he shouted. “If you’re in there, it’s me. Open up!”

Nothing. He wiggled his phone free of his trousers pocket and hit Aziraphale’s name in his list of recent calls. He got a busy tone and rang off with a snarl. He remembered very well what had happened the last time Aziraphale’s line had been busy when he’d tried to call.

For a moment, he could still smell the smoke, which angered him even further.

“Aziraphale!”

Gripping the knob, he rammed the door with his shoulder. Again it rattled, but it didn’t otherwise budge. He aimed for the glass next, but it refused to shatter no matter how hard he struck it.

Eventually he fell to his knees and tried to poke open the letter flap. It, too, didn’t move, like it had been welded shut, and as Crowley examined it, baffled—because he knew that Aziraphale was quite fond of his letter flap, or more specifically the possibility of mail, even though he only ever got junk—and was surprised to get a very faint sense of…

Power. Holy power, in fact, and belonging to not just any holy being either. Aziraphale’s.

He was trying to keep Crowley out.

Stunned, Crowley stumbled backwards and ran into one of the humans who’d gathered around him, phones out, expecting a show.

“Oi!” said the woman. “Watch it.”

Crowley rounded on her and didn’t bother to hide his hiss. “Pissss off, all of you, or I’ll sssend you to Hell!”

The crowd scattered, some more quickly than others. Crowley straightened his jacket and tried to pull himself together. He had to force his teeth to unclench, his snake tongue to disappear, and his eyes felt strange, a sort of burning sensation—from the memory of the smoke, perhaps?

The pastry box was on the ground, dropped and forgotten at some point during the proceedings, although thankfully its lid was still in place. He picked it up and carried it back to the Bentley.

After one last, lingering look at the bookshop, he sped off.

 


 

The pastries weren’t ruined, but they also weren’t as neatly arranged as they’d been when Crowley had got them. When he returned to the flat, he sat at his desk and devoured every one of them.

He wasn’t overly fond of pastries, not the way Aziraphale was, but it didn’t matter. He might as well have been eating live crickets for how little he tasted them now.

Afterwards, he got a bottle of wine—one of the ones he’d had on hand for a while, so that should he and Aziraphale ever go back to his place for a drink for once, he could whip it out and say something like ‘See, angel? You’re not the only one with good taste’—and he drank it straight from the bottle. It should’ve been delicious—it was French, after all, exemplary quality and well-aged—but it didn’t taste the same when he was alone.

“Listen to you,” he snarled. “Thinking like that. You knew what you were getting into with him. You knew it would end up like this.”

Well, maybe not like this. Not so soon, for one, and not when Crowley didn’t have the faintest clue what he’d done to ruin everything.

When his ears started to ring, he thought, I’m not drunk yet, am I? Then he realised the ringing was real and coming from his pocket. He put the wine bottle down and took out his phone.

Aziraphale, said the screen.

He considered ignoring it, and probably should’ve done especially now that he’d got alcohol in him, but of course he didn’t. He was too much of a poor, pathetic, deluded bastard for that. He hit the button to accept the call.

At least he sounded suitably peeved when he snapped, “What?”

“Crowley? It’s me.”

“Is it? Goodness me, I had no idea. If only the humans had invented some sort of way to see who’s ringing you before you answer.”

“Yes, well. I—erm.” Aziraphale cleared his throat. “I think you might’ve…come by while I was, um…away.”

It hadn’t fully occurred to Crowley until that moment that Aziraphale had very likely been inside the bookshop all along and just pretending not to be, listening to Crowley work himself into half a panic outside. And now that it had occurred, he was really angry.

“Did I? Oh yes, that’s right,” he said, calm slathered over his tone like a layer of rapidly thinning ice over an open flame. “I stopped by that little patisserie you like, got a few things I thought we could share. Since you weren’t home, I had them all to myself, and let me tell you: they were scrumptious. Those ones with the jelly in the middle especially—”

“Crowley.” Aziraphale said it so gently, so earnestly that Crowley shut up to listen. “I’m…I’m sorry, my dear. I just need a little time to myself right now.”

“Time? What sort of time? A week, a year, a century?”

“I…I don’t know. Nothing so long as a century, I should think.”

If Crowley’d had a heart—a properly working one, that was, not the one that simply faffed about in his body for appearances’ sake—he thought it might’ve shrivelled just then. Not from the words so much as how very uncertainly Aziraphale had said them. He really didn’t know when he wanted to see Crowley again.

Swallowing, Crowley pushed on. “What for?”

“Just…this and that. I can’t explain much more. It’s only that so much has happened, and so quickly, and…well, you know I don’t like when everything moves so fast.”

A dead sloth would move too fast for you, Crowley thought, but when he opened his mouth, what came out was “But I thought you and I—”

Fortunately, he managed to halt himself there.

“It won’t be long,” Aziraphale said. “After all, I’ve got very little to do now but sit and think about…about everything.”

“I could help,” said Crowley. It was almost certainly the alcohol talking now, insisting on loosening his tongue even though that was the last thing he needed. “If you’d just tell what’s going on in your head right now—”

“No, Crowley. I don’t think I will.” Aziraphale cleared his throat. “I have to go now. I’ll talk to you soon.”

Soon?” Crowley squawked. “What happened to not knowing a timeframe? For G—Satan’s sake, does the phrase ‘mixed messages’ mean anything to you?”

But Aziraphale had already rung off. Crowley hissed as he did the same and threw the phone onto the desk. Then he snatched up the wine bottle and took a gulp.

Well, he’d been right about something at least. Aziraphale was avoiding him, although he still didn’t know why.

 


 

No, that was a lie. And not even a good one.

Crowley wasn’t stupid. Sure, demons benefitted more from ambition and blind bravado than intelligence, and consequently most had let the latter slip a bit—or a lot—but not Crowley. He wasn’t stupid. He knew what had happened.

He’d gone soft. Eleven years of regular contact with Aziraphale. Eleven years of an increasingly all-consuming sense that their time might soon be up and he needed to make the most of what was left. Now he’d gone as soft as a mortal whose bones and organs and bits had been ground to a paste by the machinations of Hell.

And Aziraphale wasn’t stupid either, especially not where Crowley’s weaknesses were concerned. Aziraphale knew.

He knew and he didn’t like it. Worse, he was repelled by it.

What could Crowley do but accept the truth and drink?

So he skipped over pleasantly tipsy and instead dove straight into well and truly drunk.

In a matter of hours, he was more sloshed than he’d ever got with Aziraphale—long, long past the point of tripping over words and finding humour in the senseless minutiae of the world, and onto a deeper understanding of the inescapable misery of his existence, a feeling that his stomach would never stop roiling, and persistent black spots drifting in and out of his vision, followed by the hazy thought Is this what humans mean by ‘blackout drunk’?

And throughout it, he never lost sight of the fact that this was nothing less than what he deserved: this was the inevitability he’d been moving towards all these millennia, the same way that Earth had been moving towards the finale of the Great Plan.

Who knew, maybe this had been the Ineffable Plan all along. Guiding the demon along until he eventually succumbed to something he wasn’t even meant to be capable of.

After all, this wasn’t the fun sort of love, the kind that Hell approved of. No, this was the other kind, Heaven’s speciality. When it was good, it was the best you’d ever felt, but when it wasn’t, it could rival the agony of the rack or the breaking wheel or any other fourteenth-century torture device.

Crowley hated the fourteenth century.

It would’ve been better if it had been the Hellish sort. If Aziraphale made Crowley hard instead of soft. He could’ve handled that easily, and been done with the whole mess ages ago.

Huffing in frustration, Crowley tried to heave himself to his feet but found he could only fall onto his face. The floor was soft, at least. Pillowy.

It was a pillow, in fact. Aziraphale’s. Crowley didn’t remember coming into the new guest room, much less sitting—and now lying—on the bed, but he must’ve done. It was fortuitous, really, because that was exactly where he’d intended to go after he stood.

He shoved his face in the pillow, and sucked in and snorted, but he only smelled his own wine-soaked breath.

This was what he could’ve done, if it’d been the Hellish sort. Plied Aziraphale with wine and tempted him to bed, driven all these inconvenient thoughts and lapses away with the straightforward, transitory force of lust.

Crowley’s stomach lurched suddenly, and he twisted his head just in time to aim a torrent of vomit over the edge of the bed.

“F’ck,” he croaked when he was finished. “N’r did tha’ b’fore.”

Time to sober up, he supposed.

 


 

He slept for a week then, and when he woke up, he was still in the guest bedroom, which smelled powerfully of wine and sick. He’d forgotten to clean up before he’d rolled over and readied himself for unconsciousness to sweep him away.

He cleaned it now with a wave of his arm and settled back in the bed, debating another sleep. Maybe he could just sleep until Aziraphale decided to talk or Hell arrived to off him, whichever came first.

The reminder of Aziraphale brought a reminder of, well, everything that had passed through Crowley’s drunken mind a week ago. And with it came a heat in his face that could probably rival one of Aziraphale’s own blushes, along with a tight, twisting sensation in his abdomen like the kind that those very blushes tended to evoke.

Sex, Crowley thought. Really? He almost didn’t know himself anymore. Saving the world, killing a demon, sticking his middle finger up in all of Hell’s and Heaven’s faces, thinking idly of fucking Aziraphale…

He shivered—physically shivered although he wasn’t cold. In fact, he felt warm all over, not just in his face. It was that word, something about it. Fucking.

Another shiver, stronger this time. He squirmed a little, incapable of stopping himself.

No, not the word, he thought. I say it often enough. Must be the context. Aziraphale and—and fucking.

“Oh, Hell,” he said, wincing.

It wasn’t like he’d never thought of it before. He had. It would’ve been difficult not to, with some of the things Aziraphale said without realising the naughtier implications. ‘Lick butt,’ for example, which…

Well, that was certainly a thought, wasn’t it?

“No,” Crowley said, pressing his palms to his eyes. “No, no, no. Not going there, no. Especially not now.”

Although…what would it hurt, really? It wasn’t like he had anything better on. No more orders, no more quotas, no more Arrangement. Aziraphale would never have to know.

“Wonderful. I’m the demon on my own shoulder.”

And he’d lost his angel, hadn’t he? All he had left were thoughts, memories…fantasies. And he had a very good imagination.

Oh, go on. Just this once.

Aziraphale would be embarrassed. He’d blush and refuse to meet Crowley’s eye and say things like, My dear, I don’t know if this is a good idea.

It would get worse—better, from Crowley’s perspective—when Crowley teased him, told him, Sure about that? Honestly, who confuses ‘lick’ with ‘kick’? I think you wanted to put the idea in my head. I think you’ve been wanting my tongue up you for a long time.

What then? Would Aziraphale flush even pinker, duck his head bashfully, insist, Don’t be silly. I’ve no idea what you mean? Or maybe he’d give as good as he got: Can you blame me, my dear, when I know very well what sort of tongue you have?

No. Crowley was leaning more towards a bashful, blushing Aziraphale. This time, at least. Crowley would need to coax him. Woo him, gently, like a glassblower shaping a delicate piece. The slightest misstep would ruin it.

Trust me, he would promise. I’ll make it good for you. You’ll never want me to stop. You’ll need it every day when I’m done with you. And the whole time he would be pressing soft kisses to Aziraphale’s cheek, chin, neck, making Aziraphale arch into him with the sweetest sounds.

In the guest bed Crowley had done nothing yet, only closed his eyes and loosened the reins on his self-control, and already he wanted it. His cock, which had rarely been more to him than an extra dangly bit of skin since he’d manifested it centuries ago on a whim, was thick and hard, pushing against the seam of his trousers.

If Aziraphale had been present, he’d have seen it. Felt it, perhaps, as Crowley kissed his throat. The noise he’d make, the way he wouldn’t be able to stop himself from rubbing against it, just to see how Crowley would react.

“Yessss,” said Crowley, stroking himself through the fabric. “That’sss it. Come on.”

Is this what always happens, Aziraphale would say, in a surge of confidence, when you imagine l-licking my…?

“Ssssay it. When I’m licking your tight little—”

That was as far as Crowley got before his hips stuttered upwards and he came in his trousers with a whimper.

“Shit,” he said a moment later. He didn’t want to stop. He wanted to keep rubbing, keep imagining. Even his prick, still hard despite the sticky mess it had made, concurred. “Shit, ssshit.”

He suspected that this had been a very, very bad idea.

 


 

‘Bad idea’ didn’t begin to cover it. Even ‘very, very bad idea’ was an understatement of the highest order. On a scale of all the very bad, very stupid things Crowley had done in his life, this ranked somewhere slightly above losing the Antichrist.

He couldn’t stop thinking about it. If he were being honest with himself for once, he would have to admit that he didn’t want to stop. He wanted to carry on touching himself like a sinful human and imagining all the filthy things he and Aziraphale could get up to in bed together.

And there were many of those things. Many.

After Crowley finished licking Aziraphale’s arse, the acts they could follow it up with seemed endless. Aziraphale could roll to his back and demand that his cock—or his cunt, or whatever he’d manifested there—be given similar attention. He could beg for something else up his arse. He could stutter a request to put something up Crowley’s.

Crowley would say yes to all of it. Yes and—even more shamefully—Anything you want. It’s all yours.

And Aziraphale would say, with a shy, flirtatious smile, Really, anything? Even if what I want is for you to leave this room and shut the door behind you so I can, erm, finish myself alone?

Crowley would grumble and bless a great deal, but he would do it. Except he’d plaster himself to the closed door, straining to hear any sign, any whisper of—

Good L—S—somebody, why was that so bloody erotic? Crowley shut himself out of the guest room for an extra thrill of realness before he stripped off his trousers and went at his cock like mad.

He supposed this was what demonic possession must feel like for the human: like there was something in him compelling him very persuasively to do what he knew damn well he shouldn’t.

Lust had never been part of his purview. In Hell’s eyes it was on par with sloth: the easiest of sins to peddle to humans, and therefore no demon should expect to receive commendation for it.

Now he couldn’t get away from it—or from sloth either, for that matter. When he wasn’t wanking, he was lazing about the flat, brainstorming what he could wank about next.

“Not my fault, though, is it,” he mused, taking a break from both sins to mist his houseplants. “No angel, no head office. Could indulge a wile or two, I suppose, but…not much point if I’m not being thwarted.”

It got him thinking about temptations and good deeds to cancel them out, or vice versa, and the times he and Aziraphale had turned the Arrangement into a sort of game, trying to impress and out-do each other, with Aziraphale doing a piss-poor job of pretending he wasn’t having even the teensiest bit of fun.

What sort of games, Crowley wondered, could they get up to now? Dirty ones, obviously. Filth seemed all that his mind was capable of conjuring anymore.

Aziraphale might say something like, You’re a terrible influence, my dear, doing that thing he did where he fluttered his lashes and looked at Crowley from the corner of his eye, then pretended like he hadn’t. The sort of effortless, innocent flirtation that had driven Crowley mad for as long as he could remember.

And what are you going to do about it? Crowley would respond, voice thick with his own brand of effortless, not-so-innocent flirtation. I should really be taught a lesson, shouldn’t I? Put in my place?

Given a good seeing to, Aziraphale would agree. Although I daresay you’d enjoy that too much. You naughty old serpent…

With a start, Crowley returned to reality and realised he was drowning his houseplants. Their leaves were sodden and wilting like the backbone of a properly tempted priest.

“If so much as one of you shows any sign of overwatering,” he promised, in a growl perhaps more suited to a hound of Hell than a demon, “all of you will suffer.”

With all of them trembling appropriately, he stalked back to the guest room to have yet another wank.

 


 

Oh, Aziraphale would say—or wail, really; Crowley imagined a throaty, drawn-out cry more beautiful and divine than Heaven’s best angelic choir. Oh, Crowley, your mouth is wicked.

Crowley wouldn’t be able to reply verbally, of course, his wicked mouth being occupied, but he would groan and think, I’ll be as wicked as you like, sweetheart. Anytime.

He’d do everything he could to make it perfect. His gag reflex was nonexistent, but if Aziraphale wanted to see him choke, then Crowley would miracle himself one of the most sensitive in existence. He’d transform his tongue into a snake’s and use it to discover Aziraphale’s most favourite spots. He’d do the sort of humiliating, degrading things that humans did in pornography—letting Aziraphale slap him in the face with his cock, pulling off at the last second so Aziraphale could shoot his come all over Crowley’s face—if Aziraphale so much as hinted towards it.

He’d do it all and more, but for now at least Aziraphale would only want the most basic, traditional act: his cock down Crowley’s throat while Crowley bobbed his head and sucked him hard, materialising enough saliva to make it feel wet and good.

Crowley, Aziraphale would moan, turning Crowley’s name into a swear and a blessing all at once. Crowley, my dear, I’m…oh, yes, I’m very nearly—

A distant shrill ring broke Crowley’s concentration, scattering his fantasy like feathers in the wind. He lifted his head, spat his fingers from his mouth, and tried to remember where he’d left his mobile.

Not in the guest room, that was for certain. And did he really want to leave to go looking for it when the alternative was lying here and rubbing one out against the mattress? Not likely.

Then again, who ever rang him except Aziraphale?

At least one of his priorities hadn’t gone to shit.

He sprang out of the bed and tried to ignore his prick, which bobbed about wildly as he rushed to find his mobile phone. It was on the desk near the landline, its screen illuminated and Aziraphale’s name displayed in the centre. He dove for it just as the ringing stopped and a message popped up to inform him that he had one missed call.

“Damn.”

Before he could return it, the other phone on the desk began to sound its own shrill ring. He spared a moment to be first impressed that Aziraphale had thought to try multiple numbers instead of whichever one occurred to him first, then concerned that Aziraphale needed to get a hold of him so urgently.

Then, thinking of why Aziraphale might need to, Crowley moved swiftly onto terror.

He snatched up the receiver. “Angel?”

“Oh!” came Aziraphale’s voice, as shocked as if Crowley had just declared himself a paragon of holiness. “Hello.”

“What’s wrong?” Crowley waved one hand, dressing himself and dwindling his erection fully while he was at it. Probably the only demonic miracle used ever in existence to get rid of such a thing rather than cause it. “You’re at the bookshop? I can be there—”

“What? Oh, goodness, no. Everything is fine. Tip-top and all that. Sorry, I didn’t mean to worry you.”

Crowley sagged into his chair, biting back a sigh. He closed his eyes and covered them with his hand, thinking, One of these days he’ll kill me, so terribly that even Hell will be impressed. “Right. Everything’s fine. That’s good.”

“I wanted…er. Well, that is to say… There’s a restaurant that’s just opened down the street. A little fusion place. Not our usual fare, I know, but I’ve heard good things.”

“You want to have lunch?” Crowley tried to go for a tone that was neither Are you shitting me? Less than a month after your little plea for space? nor Thank God and Satan and whoever else, yes, that’s all I want in the entire universe. It came out an unfortunate mix of the two, a sort of ardent threat.

Aziraphale paused. “Well, it would be dinner now, as it’s gone six, but…yes. If you aren’t interested, of course I understand.”

“No, no. Fusion, you said? Just so happens I’ve had a hankering for fusion. It’s nice and…fusion-y.”

“Yes.” Aziraphale’s voice lit with a smile. “Yes, my thoughts exactly. So shall we meet for dinner? In, say, an hour?”

Hell if Crowley didn’t want to lie back and shut his mouth and bask in the sound of that smile like a snake in the sun. He forced an answer out of his dry throat. “An hour. All right, then.”

 


 

“Don’t say a word,” Crowley told himself on the drive. “Not a single word. Not about the space, not about the flat, not about all the bloody wanking or the lapses. Everything is fine. Marvellous. ‘Tip-top and all that.’”

He parked—not entirely legally, mentally daring some poor traffic warden to try to give him a citation—and caught a glance at himself in the rear-view mirror. Startled, he found he’d forgotten to put on his usual sunglasses.

He sneered as he plucked a pair from his stash of spares before he climbed out of the car. “Where is your head? No, stupid question. Just get it together, for Satan’s sake.”

The restaurant was unassuming, a little hole-in-the-wall that was even more hole-in-the-wall-y than Aziraphale usually went for, the kind of family-run place that barely attracted enough customers to stay afloat.

Aziraphale was already there, sat in a corner table and beaming at the waitress, who was filling two wineglasses. He looked the same as he always did, the same outfit he’d worn for the better part of a hundred years, the same hairstyle like a wisp of a cloud had been convinced to hover just atop his head.

Moments like these, when Crowley was struck by the sight of him, the familiarity of his appearance, he could almost believe Aziraphale was solely to blame for Crowley’s state. After all, how could Crowley be expected to move on when at every turn he was confronted with the same visage that had single-handedly taught him there existed more devastating, terrifying falls than the Fall?

When Aziraphale spotted him, his face broke into a smile so radiant and divine that Crowley felt unworthy of looking at it.

Fuck me, he thought as he made his way across the room, innocently at first, or as innocent as any swear could be, but as the thought settled: Yes. Seriously, fuck me. Bend me over right now and give it to me so hard it hurts.

He stumbled, surprised by himself—and then horrified. No, not this.

“Good gracious,” Aziraphale said, standing as though he meant to swoop in and save Crowley from his little stumble. “Are you all right? You haven’t started the evening without me, have you?”

“Course not.” Crowley slumped into the chair across from him. “Floor’s a bit uneven there.”

If the waitress were still at the table, he would’ve made a pointed comment about customer safety to drive his lie home. As it was, he lifted the glass in front of him, intending to take a small sip of white wine. Instead, he drained it in one gulp and plonked it back on the table with a sound that drew the attention of the diners around them.

“Oh,” Aziraphale said, wide-eyed. “Well then.” To the waitress, who hurried swiftly over, bottle in hand, he said, “Perhaps you’d best leave the bottle here.”

“Probably a good idea,” Crowley agreed. He refilled the glass himself, a little too full for polite dinner company, but at least he managed to sip it this time instead of guzzling it like the nervous bastard he was.

“Clearly I should’ve been the one asking if you were all right on the phone.” Aziraphale leaned across the table, lowering his voice to a murmur so intimate that Crowley’s insides twisted. “Has something happened? Have you heard from…you-know-who?”

“No, nothing like that. Suppose I’m just a bit on edge. Waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

Aziraphale’s expression pinched with sympathy. “Oh, my dear boy. Of course you are. Which reminds me.”

He reached behind him as though digging in a bag or a coat he didn’t have draped over the chair. When he swung his arm back around, he brought with it a sudden gust of that angelic bookish scent that Crowley would know anywhere. It made him sway backwards in his seat, his eyes fluttering shut behind his glasses, overcome by the sudden image of Aziraphale above him, sinking his cock into him, saying Oh, my dear boy, I’m going to make such a mess of you.

It was humiliating, really, how long it took for him to snap out of it and realise there was a tartan Thermos flask in Aziraphale’s hand.

Almost as humiliating as the fact that the sight of it didn’t cool Crowley’s ardour much at all.

“Seeing as how you used up all of your ‘insurance’ last time,” Aziraphale said. “If the other shoe does indeed drop, hopefully this will buy you an opportunity to…what’s the colloquialism, haul butt?”

It’s like he’s trying to do this to me, Crowley thought forlornly. Come on. I didn’t mean the bit about going hard instead of soft.

“Close enough,” he grunted, accepting the flask with both hands. Their fingers brushed gently as Aziraphale let go, and Crowley only barely managed to keep his grip steady.

“You didn’t seem to like ‘get a wiggle on,’ so I went looking for alternatives. Careful with the lid. It’s not the holiest this time, I’m afraid, but it is of good stock. Should do the job just as well.”

It would’ve been better to do this somewhere other than a public restaurant, but Crowley kept that to himself. He cradled the holy water gingerly and, after verifying no one was watching, set it aside in a pocket dimension for safe keeping until he got home.

In lieu of a thank-you, he said, seriously, “If I could get you hellfire, I would. But it’s not as easily contained, nor as—”

“I’m not worried about Heaven. Even if they did come for me, I wouldn’t feel right about…well, doing that to an archangel.”

Crowley would. Quite cheerfully, in fact. Particularly if the archangel in question were Gabriel. The way he’d smiled as he told “Aziraphale” to shut up and die already, the sanctimonious prick…

And there went the erection. He’d have to remember that trick. Just in case, he did another miracle to ensure it stayed gone. If anyone Below was paying attention to demonic miracles, Crowley imagined that doing this twice in one day had cemented his reputation as an anomaly to be left well alone.

Aziraphale continued, “And I still don’t feel right about you having that either, but…I can’t deny it’s proven useful.”

“Don’t worry, angel. Self-defence and the most careful handling only. I’m quite keen on sticking around. Especially now.”

The waitress approached with her notepad out, and Crowley recalled that he was meant to be finding something on the menu that looked passably appetising. He wasn’t much for food, certainly not the way Aziraphale was, but he had said something about a hankering, hadn’t he?

He motioned to Aziraphale to order first, and when Aziraphale ordered the sea bass with rhubarb, Crowley said, “Sounds delicious. I’ll have the same.”

Aziraphale seemed unusually pleased by that, smiling down at the table while he straightened his place setting. Then his smile dimmed, and he aimed an almost sorrowful glance at Crowley.

“Crowley, I owe you an apology. What I said—”

Crowley cringed inside, and his voice was nearly a bark when he insisted, “Forgotten.”

Aziraphale blinked. “Well, that’s very kind of you, but—”

“Nope, really. It’s forgotten. Not a problem. I hardly even remember it. I had a nice long sleep. Really lovely. You should try it.”

Recognising that Aziraphale was beginning to look alarmed, Crowley gulped his wine to shut himself up and poured himself another glass.

“Are you sure you’re all right?” Aziraphale asked, in a tone like he fully expected Crowley to begin vomiting glitter at any moment.

“Of course I am. Why wouldn’t I be?”

“You won’t meet my eye, for a start. And I know white isn’t your preference, but it’s still excellent quality. Certainly not worth drinking it like that.”

“How do you know I’m not meeting your eye?” asked Crowley with a sneer, gesturing towards his sunglasses.

Aziraphale sighed. “I know, Crowley. I always know, and you’re not.” He said it so earnestly that Crowley was struck dumb. Appropriate, it seemed, since Aziraphale wasn’t finished. “What I did, cutting you off like that without explanation, that was cruel. I realise that now.”

Crowley found his tongue again. “Not sure you can be cruel. I’ve never seen any evidence of it. Certainly not that. But I’d rather just move past it if you don’t mind. No point in dwelling.”

Aziraphale’s shoulders hunched. He seemed dubious. “If… I mean, if you’re sure.”

“I am.”

“Well…all right, then.”

It wasn’t a bad meal, all thing considered. The food was surprisingly good and paired well with the wine. He and Aziraphale speculated idly about what Adam might’ve been up to, and then Anathema, and then they discussed a recent swath of difficult customers in Aziraphale’s shop.

Crowley held the door open for them both on the way out of the restaurant, and they stood for a moment on the pavement, awkwardly.

“I have a bottle of Château Lafite back at the shop,” Aziraphale said. “If you’re interested.”

Yes, Crowley wanted to say. You cannot possibly understand how interested I am. Instead, he averted his eyes and said, “Better not. Maybe another time.”

If Aziraphale’s shoulders had been hunched before, then they were practically kneeling now. He looked not only dejected but defeated, like a soldier about to be impaled on his own sword. But he only nodded once and said, “Right. Another time.”

The feeling of being the scum of not just the Earth but Heaven and Hell too followed Crowley all the way back to his flat.

 


 

It didn’t stop him, however, from throwing himself onto his own bed—the guest one having long lost Aziraphale’s scent and taken on the worst of Crowley’s—removing his clothes and sunglasses, and conjuring a vivid fantasy of Aziraphale being very cruel indeed. Getting Crowley so hard that he shook and then refusing to do anything about it.

Do you really deserve it? Aziraphale would ask, holding himself just out of reach no matter how much Crowley arched and squirmed to press their bodies together. I don’t know that you do. You disappointed me tonight, my dear.

“I’ll do anything,” Crowley said, meaning every word. He was facedown on the mattress, grinding his cock frantically against the duvet. “Anything, angel. Please.”

Hmm. What was it you said earlier? Bend you over and fuck you—Crowley whimpered, spurred on by the imagined sound of vulgarity in Aziraphale’s voice—until it hurts? I wonder if I can finish you off with nothing but that. Shall we see?

Crowley hadn’t even reached the doing part of the fantasy before he was making a mess of himself and the bed, Aziraphale’s name on his lips.

Poor, pathetic, stupid bastard, he thought when he’d recovered. You’re just making it worse.

 


 

“A what?” Crowley said into the telephone. He was dressed this time at least, his cock behaving—although that was likely due to him having spent the morning tuckering the blasted thing out.

“A picnic!” Aziraphale said as cheerfully as if it had taken him centuries to come up with this idea and nothing could deny him his pride in it. “It just so happens I’ve acquired a nice blanket and a hamper, and St. James Park is perfect for a picnic, or so I’ve heard.”

Crowley squinted at the wall as he considered. It’d be cutting into his lust-fulfilment time, obviously. And they had just gone to dinner the previous night. Seemed a bit much to have another meal together so soon.

Which is exactly what you wanted, wasn’t it? some part of Crowley whispered. Spending all your time together now that there’s no one to tell you not to.

“Should I bring anything?” he asked.

There was a pause, and then Aziraphale said, as bright as Heaven, “Chocolates!”

 


 

Aziraphale liked the chocolates with fillings, the ones that came in a box of assorted flavours accompanied by a diagram of what was what. Except that Aziraphale wasn’t keen on the diagram—he preferred to suss out for himself what he’d just put in his mouth.

Isn’t that a thought? Crowley thought as he plucked out the diagram and tossed it into a bin outside the sweets shop. Aziraphale with things in his mouth… Making that face and those noises he made when something was especially delicious.

He wouldn’t just suck your cock, Crowley figured. He’d savour it. Take it good and slow so he could coax every bit of flavour out of the thing he could. He’d pull Crowley aside whenever the mood struck him and say, I’m hungry, my dear. Could I have a taste, just a small one, to tide me over until we get home?

But then the taste wouldn’t be small at all. He’d suck the come out of Crowley’s prick and then complain that it wasn’t enough and couldn’t Crowley manage just a little more, just for him.

Crowley nearly ran the Bentley off the road twice thinking about it, his cock doing a very poor job of behaving.

He might’ve done something about it, just a squeeze and a grope, a minor adjustment to relieve the tightness in his trousers, but Aziraphale was already waiting for him outside the bookshop. In his arms was a quaint wicker picnic basket, and on his face was an expression of such contentment that Crowley couldn’t hold in a faint groan as he came to a stop, a bit farther from the kerb than he meant to.

Ignoring the hooting of the car behind him, Crowley leaned across the front seat to open the passenger door. “Morning,” he said as Aziraphale slid into the car.

“It’s afternoon now. You look very handsome.”

Crowley sucked in a breath—which he regretted, as Aziraphale’s scent washed over him like a thunderstorm, scattering all his thoughts in the runoff. Aziraphale had never been shy about compliments, but he usually reserved them for, well, when they were warranted. Not when Crowley was wearing the same outfit he’d been wearing for the last month at least.

The car behind them hooted again, more angrily, and with a start, Crowley got going. He might’ve added a hand wave, or perhaps a rude gesture, but it wasn’t really their fault he was in such a state, was it?

“Oh!” Aziraphale said, looking into the back seat where Crowley had put the chocolates. “Those do look scrumptious.”

“It’s a box. How can you tell?”

“I know quality when I see it. I’m sure they’ll be delicious. Although I do hope they don’t melt. It’s quite warm out in the sun.”

“They won’t,” Crowley said firmly. A little miracle had made sure of that.

Aziraphale gave him a glance of open fondness, his smile seeming to melt onto his face the way the chocolates wouldn’t.

Dear God, Crowley thought, pretending to be very focused on driving. Satan. Someone. Don’t look at me like that. My self-control is already stretched thin.

“Have you ever had one of these?” Aziraphale asked.

Crowley’s mind went somewhere filthy—an orgasm? someone else’s dick in your hand?—before it thankfully returned to the present. “A picnic? No, can’t say I have. You?”

“Oh yes. It was many years ago, though. I always thought—” Aziraphale gazed down at his lap, where his fingers were twiddling atop the hamper. “Well, I thought it would be more enjoyable with you.” More softly, like he was imparting a secret, he added, “Most things are.”

Crowley felt a bit like what he imagined pasta did as it was cooked, going from dry and brittle to tender and wobbly. What was Aziraphale doing? And why now when Crowley’s good sense had been severely compromised?

“Always said I was a rare treat to be around,” he managed to choke out. “About time someone else recognises it.”

Aziraphale said nothing, but his forehead wrinkled, his brow drawing low.

The frown cleared when they arrived and parked, and by the time they were roaming St. James Park, he was chipper again, walking with a distinct spring in his step. Crowley wasn’t quite sure how it’d happened, but somehow he was the one carrying the chocolates and the hamper—heavy bugger that it was, and it sloshed a bit, clearly housing at least one bottle of wine or champagne—trailing behind while Aziraphale surveyed their picnicking options.

At one point Aziraphale stopped dead and then veered off the path towards a cosy-looking bit of grass shaded by a full, blooming tree.

“Oh how lovely,” he said. “It’s practically picturesque, isn’t it? What do you think?”

Crowley shrugged. “Works for me.”

They spread a checked blanket over the grass and took their seats, the basket between them like a table centrepiece at a restaurant.

Aziraphale had indeed brought a bottle of champagne, along with a pair of champagne flutes. He’d also packed sandwiches, crackers with sliced cheeses and meats, and raspberry scones. It was somewhat smaller and simpler than the feast Crowley had been anticipating, but it was a decent spread.

“Where’d you get all this?” Crowley asked.

Aziraphale wrinkled his nose. “Why do you assume I got it somewhere? Perhaps I made it.”

Crowley raised his eyebrows.

“I could’ve,” Aziraphale insisted.

“I’ve never seen you cook. Not once. Do you even have a kitchen?”

“Well. No.”

Crowley raised his flute of champagne in a well, there you go gesture, then brought it to his lips. Today he succeeded in reminding himself to sip.

But he realised only after he’d lowered the glass that he’d skipped right over offering any sort of proper toast or waiting for Aziraphale to do so, as they always did with champagne, and Aziraphale was staring like Crowley was a new species he’d never known existed.

Then Aziraphale seemed to shrug it off and sipped his own champagne. “You have a kitchen, don’t you?” he said when he’d swallowed.

“I wouldn’t really call it a kitchen. I only use the garbage disposal.”

“But you have one.” Aziraphale broke into a grin. “We could learn to cook!”

Crowley stared, a neatly cut triangle of sandwich frozen halfway to his mouth. “We?”

“Or I could whilst you keep me company. You could do the dishes!”

It was fortunate that Crowley had kept his sunglasses on. His eyes were probably as wide as a dragonfly’s. “Why the Heaven would I do that?”

“That’s how it works, isn’t it? One person cooks and the other does the washing up?”

Crowley set the sandwich down, feeling simultaneously faint and jittery. He knows, he thought. He knows exactly what he’s doing, what he’s implying. He’s trying to… Except he couldn’t possibly…

“It can’t be that hard, can it?” Aziraphale continued, oblivious. “There are recipes. I bet with enough practise I could whip up a set of scones that would put these to shame.”

Ask him, thought Crowley. Ask him if he wants to move in. If he wants to see each other every morning and every night and live like two humans who’ve bound themselves until death do them part.

But right on that thought’s heels came another: Right. And then ask him if he minds that I have to run off and wank myself stupid every time he does something even slightly alluring. I’m sure he’ll have something to say about that.

“Is something wrong?” asked Aziraphale.

Crowley didn’t jump like a child caught doing something naughty, but it was a near thing. “Of course not. Just…enjoying myself. Lovely weather, eh?”

He grabbed a sandwich and crammed it into his mouth. Aziraphale watched him with a moue of confusion.

“You’re being unusually quiet,” Aziraphale said. “And you have a look on your face as though you’d rather transport yourself to the South Pole. You needn’t stay if you don’t want to, you know.”

Crowley rubbed his forehead with a grimace and a flash of self-loathing. Look at him. His best friend, of six thousand years, and he couldn’t keep himself together for one meal.

“I want to be here. I do,” he said, more solemnly and honestly than he was accustomed to. But then, recognising honesty could only get him so far, he added, “I didn’t realise I was acting unusual. If I am, I don’t know why.”

Aziraphale was blatantly unconvinced, giving Crowley a narrowed-eyed look as though to say, Oh really? You expect me to believe that, do you? But he said nothing aloud.

Crowley rallied himself silently, a subtle hand movement sending his prick away if it was so determined to ruin his day, and said, “Seriously, though, where’d you get all this food?”

To his surprise, Aziraphale averted his eyes, and a faint blush crept over his pale cheeks. “The, um. That little patisserie I like—the one you said you’d… Well, after you mentioned it, I decided to pay them a visit. They offer other things besides pastries, apparently.”

“What do you mean, ‘apparently’? Of course they do. It’s on their menu board.”

“Yes, but I never paid attention to that. Their display more than sufficed.”

Crowley laughed. He couldn’t help it; the sound just bubbled out of him, impossible to contain. “Of course it did. You know, I used to think I had a sweet tooth. Then I met yours.”

“Mine?”

“Mm-hm. You should see yourself eat a piece of cake. It’s obscene.” Crowley was only slightly exaggerating.

“Oh, stop it,” Aziraphale said, no doubt trying for exasperation, but the little grin he was failing to hide betrayed him.

“It’s true. Mothers cover their children’s eyes. If someone filmed you for television, it’d be too racy for pre-watershed.”

“Pre-what?”

Crowley rolled his eyes, but it was fond. Ridiculously, pathetically so. But even still, he could handle this. This was nothing in comparison to the urges he’d been plagued with lately, the ones he’d inflicted on himself, however inadvertently.

“Never mind,” he said. “Why don’t you try the chocolates?”

Aziraphale cast him a suspicious glance but obligingly set his champagne flute aside and lifted the lid on the box of chocolates. They looked delectable, if Crowley did say so himself: not even a hint of melting.

It seemed to take ages for Aziraphale to choose a piece, his hand hovering above the assortment like he could divine each one’s filling and taste even though Crowley knew he couldn’t. Well, perhaps he could if he really tried, but that wasn’t what he was doing. He was relishing the act of choosing, preparing to savour whatever he picked.

Obscene, Crowley thought, but the tease had lost some of its playfulness. It reminded him, instead, of the fantasy his wayward imagination had spun not two hours ago of Aziraphale savouring Crowley’s cock.

And then Aziraphale made his selection, a milk-chocolate orb with dark-chocolate stripes draped over the top. He didn’t pop it into his mouth like Crowley would’ve done, but bit it in two, one half between his thumb and forefinger while he closed his eyes and let the other half melt on his tongue.

“Mmm,” he moaned. “Caramel.”

Obscene was too soft of a word, really. Even pornographic didn’t quite cover it.

Crowley watched with wide eyes, and had a sudden flash of feeding Aziraphale chocolates between tender, languid sucks of Crowley’s cock. Of Aziraphale staring up at him, half-lidded, and moaning like that when Crowley’s prick began to leak.

“Crowley?”

Crowley returned to himself, suddenly very aware that Aziraphale had eaten the other half of his chocolate and was now staring like he suspected Crowley had endured a terrible head injury and required close observation.

“Are you all right, my dear?” Aziraphale asked.

Crowley’s cheeks went hot. He swore that if the sensation was accompanied by even the faintest tinge of pink he would peel every inch of skin from his body, plunge it into a pit of fire, and laugh as it burned.

He didn’t even have genitals any longer. How could he still get turned on?

“Yep,” he said quickly, popping the p. “Perfectly fine. Just got a bit lost in my head there. How’s the chocolate?”

Aziraphale’s mouth went small and thin. “Stop that. You are not fine. Neither of us is fine, and more importantly we are not fine. You’re sure you haven’t heard from…well, from either of our sides since the last time?”

“Not a word. It is really is fine. I just—” Crowley spun a mental wheel of things that humans always complained of, and said the first one it landed on. “—haven’t been sleeping much.”

Aziraphale appeared appropriately concerned. “What is ‘much’? Have you slept at all? Oh, Crowley, I told you this would happen. We’re not meant to need sleep, but once your body becomes accustomed to it, stopping can have significant consequences.”

And now you’ve opened yourself up for a lecture, Crowley told himself unhappily. Well done. He said, with a shrug, “Yeah, well…”

“But didn’t you tell me you had a…? Yes, a ‘nice, long sleep.’ You said it just last night.”

Crowley groaned inwardly. It was easy to see why Hell didn’t want to keep him around, with a brain like this. “Did I say that? Doesn’t really sound like me. In any case—” He got to his feet, sweeping crumbs off his jacket and trousers. “You’re right. I should head back, try to catch up on sleep.”

“What…now?” Aziraphale stood too, looking torn between bewilderment and worry. “But we’re not done yet!”

They weren’t. There was still food left, the champagne had barely been touched, and they’d said so little to each other. Time and all the world was theirs now, and Crowley was ready to flee with his proverbial tail between his legs.

Aziraphale set his shoulders back, and both bewilderment and worry were promptly gone, replaced by prim reserve. He straightened his coat and lifted his chin. “Well, in that case. I don’t suppose I can bother you for a lift back to the shop?”

Crowley had an urge to rip out his hair, throw himself on the ground, and scream at himself for his cowardice and indecision. Fortunately, he held it in. “It’s not a bother. What, do you think I’d just abandon you here?”

“One never knows what you’ll do when you get in a snit.”

“A snit?!” said Crowley, louder and screechier than he meant to.

“Yes, that’s what I said. Honestly, Crowley, if you would just talk to me about whatever is going on—”

“Oh, that’s rich coming from you,” Crowley spat. “What was it you said when I asked the same of you not even a month ago? Ah, that’s right. You said, ‘No, I don’t think I will.’ Well, if that’s a good enough answer for you, then it should be a good enough answer for me, shouldn’t it?”

Aziraphale looked stricken, like Crowley had just jammed a flaming sword beneath his ribs. Crowley’s anger—which had flared suddenly yet savagely—dwindled in an instant.

What were they doing? What had happened to them?

“Yes,” Aziraphale said, his voice faint. “I suppose you’re right. Go on, then.”

“Go…where? Aren’t I giving you a lift?”

“I’m perfectly capable of walking. Besides—” He sat on the wrinkled picnic blanket, took up his champagne flute—which, along with Crowley’s, had remained miraculously upright and unspilled—and refused to look anywhere near Crowley. “—I’ve been looking forward to this picnic. Nothing is going to ruin it, not even you.”

Crowley felt that flaming sword beneath his own ribs now, the fire licking at his heart, leaving it singed and blistered. It wasn’t the worst pain he had ever felt, but if he didn’t do anything to stop it, it soon would be. “Angel. Aziraphale…”

“Go,” Aziraphale said softly. “I need to think. I’ll…I’ll ring you tomorrow.”

Tomorrow. That wasn’t so bad. Clenching his fists and baring his teeth at himself, Crowley went.

 


 

As soon as tomorrow dawned, Crowley sat himself at his desk, both his mobile and landline phones within reach, and resolved that he would not budge until Aziraphale had rung one of them.

Somewhere between his third and seventh shot of whisky the previous evening, he had decided that he would apologise. He would be honest, or at least as honest as he could without humiliating himself beyond repair, and then he would let Aziraphale do what he liked. Whether that was to move into Crowley’s guest room, move to Switzerland, or stay in Soho and pretend none of this had ever happened, Crowley would not complain.

And he would stop indulging himself. What the two of them had, it was deeper than lust; in fact, Crowley might argue it was even deeper than love. It was ineffable, to borrow Aziraphale’s favourite descriptor.

It was precious. Too rare and beautiful to have been treating it like they had been. Both of them. After all, none of this would’ve happened if Aziraphale hadn’t pushed him away first. Perhaps if it hadn’t been for that, they would’ve already been living together like two halves of a single whole, happy as clams.

“Better not tell him that,” Crowley muttered. Aziraphale didn’t like being reminded when fault rested with him. It would wind up with one or both of them in another “snit.”

The landline rang, and Crowley launched himself at it. “Hello?”

“Hello,” said Aziraphale. He sounded tense. “I’m coming over, if it’s all right with you.”

“Er, yeah. Sure. Do you want a lift?”

There was no answer, and Crowley realised Aziraphale had already rung off. He stared down at the receiver, wondering how much of a state he should be working himself into right now. Just before he set it back in the cradle, there was a noise behind him. A frisson of ethereal power, like the moment before you were zapped by static electricity, made his hair stand on end.

He spun around in his chair, and there was Aziraphale, standing with his hands clasped and thumbs fidgeting.

“Hello again,” Aziraphale said with a smile, albeit a tight one.

Crowley arched his eyebrows. “Was there any point in calling if you were just going to show up?”

“It’s rude to show up unannounced.” Aziraphale shuffled his feet and, seeming reluctant to look right at Crowley, paced towards one side of the room. “Especially these days. You know, I read an article about ‘millennials’ and their—” He stopped himself, frowning. “But you don’t care about that, I’m sure.”

Crowley didn’t, but since it seemed rude to admit it, he said nothing as he stood and followed Aziraphale, who was wandering now towards the atrium. He paused in front of the tallest houseplant, the one that—although he would never, ever admit it—Crowley was most proud of, and gazed up at it.

Crowley stood in the doorway, baffled by what was happening but trying to pretend as though he wasn’t. This was not the Aziraphale that he knew. This was not the anything that he knew, and the more it continued, the more alarmed he began to get.

“I missed these,” Aziraphale said. “Isn’t that strange? I didn’t even know you had plants until the night I stayed here, and I barely saw more than a glimpse of them then. But they were the only…well, the only life in this entire place, aside from you. Although they looked better then than they do now. You’re overwatering them quite dreadfully.”

“I am not,” Crowley lied emphatically. “And anyway you didn’t come here to talk about my plants. Can you…can you look at me?”

Aziraphale hesitated, then turned. There was a sheen to his eyes, faint but distinctly present. Crowley’s first instinct was to recoil, but he surged forward instead, coming close enough that they could touch if one of them would make the first move. And Crowley nearly did, his hands itching to cup Aziraphale’s cheeks, but he shied away at the last second.

“Hey,” he said softly, as gentle as a feather. “They’re fine. Look. I overdid it with the misting, I did, but they’re getting better. When they dry out a bit—”

Aziraphale made a small, watery noise of amusement. “It’s not the plants, Crowley. It’s…it’s us.”

That hurt. It was nothing worse than Crowley had been telling himself earlier, but when Aziraphale’s eyes were wet and he was looking at Crowley—his chin, not even Crowley’s eyes—like they were moments away from getting wetter, it hurt worse than any of the disgust and censure that Crowley could heap on himself.

“What about us?” Crowley said, trying to sound at least passably cheerful. “We’re great. Well, maybe not great, but… At least we’re better off than the plants.”

Aziraphale shook his head. “I’m a fool. I never should’ve pushed you away. I’ve been thinking all night and all morning, and… You were right. We’re on our side, and that means staying together no matter what. I’m every bit as stupid as you accused me of being, and I will never forgive myself if I have ruined our friendship.”

Crowley’s chest tightened almost painfully. Friendship had been so far from his thoughts lately so as to nearly be in a separate solar system, but still, to hear it from Aziraphale’s mouth was a gift he didn’t know what he’d done to deserve.

He swallowed thickly. “It wasn’t you. You didn’t ruin anything. You needed space. Everyone needs space sometimes, don’t they?”

“Not from you,” Aziraphale said, finally meeting Crowley’s eye. “If there’s anything I learned from this silly experiment, it’s that I don’t ever want to be away from you. I was such a fool to have doubted that.”

The words would’ve knocked the wind from Crowley well enough on their own, but with the way Aziraphale was looking at Crowley while he spoke them… It was undeniable. Crowley had seen him look on any number of the Almighty’s creations with infinite softness and affection, and yet Aziraphale had never looked at anything the way he was gazing at Crowley right now.

Crowley was not a creature of love, but he’d be damned—again—if he couldn’t feel it now, all from the fathomless depths of fondness in Aziraphale’s eyes.

It was terrifying and thrilling. He was torn between gathering Aziraphale close like a secret and thrusting him away to save him from the sin that Crowley was drenched in.

“Angel,” he said. His voice wavered.

“Darling,” said Aziraphale.

Crowley’s knees shook. Then Aziraphale did what Crowley hadn’t earlier, and cupped Crowley’s cheeks in his warm palms. Crowley leaned into the touch and felt like he was trembling all the way to his soul.

“I’m so sorry,” Aziraphale murmured. “I’ve been uncertain and frightened. I thought if we took that final step and something went wrong that I would lose you. I let myself waste even more time than I’ve already wasted. No, than we’ve already wasted. Because…oh, it’s not just me, is it?”

In most situations Crowley was a liar of the finest degree—the best in Hell—but he couldn’t lie here. Not to Aziraphale, not about this. “At this point,” he said gruffly, “I think all of Heaven and Hell and some of Earth know it’s not just you.”

Aziraphale smiled, as warm and lovely as the sun in the cold, black void of the universe, and stroked Crowley’s cheek with his thumb. “I thought so. And that, my dear, is what I should have told you when you asked. Now, I believe it’s your turn.”

Oh, shit.

Aziraphale no doubt imagined that Crowley’s confession would be more of the same. Something soppy and beautiful, something straight from the metaphoric heart. And Crowley could’ve made up something perfect on the spot, but…he wasn’t going to lie, was he?

“I’ve been, ah, spending too much time, probably, tossing off to, er…to you.”

Aziraphale drew back, confusion blaring like an alarm on his face. “You’ve been what?”

“Wanking,” Crowley blurted. “Rubbing one out. Getting off. You know, masturbating.” And he couldn’t just shut up whilst he was ahead, could he? No, apparently he had to keep going, rambling like a loon. “To be honest, if I were human, my cock probably would’ve shrivelled up and chafed off by now.”

“Oh,” said Aziraphale, eyes wide. He drew back even further, a full step away. “Oh dear.”

If Crowley’s body had been capable of a panic attack, he suspected he would’ve been in the throes of one about now. Well, he thought, this is it. It’s been a lovely, oh, three minutes thinking everything was going to work out.

“But,” Aziraphale said cautiously, “it’s all right now, isn’t it?” His pointed downward glance left no doubt in Crowley’s mind what he was referring to.

“Er. Sort of. I mean, it’s not really there anymore. I got rid of it. It was…being difficult.”

“Well, bring it back!”

Crowley gaped. He’d been wrong, clearly, about how Aziraphale would feel about the lust issue. Made sense, he supposed; he’d been wrong about most everything in the last eleven years, so why should this be any different?

He snapped his fingers and went hot all over when Aziraphale looked again and—Satan help me—swiped his tongue across his bottom lip. It was a tiny movement, just a peek of pink and shine, and it undid Crowley all the more for it.

“Fuck,” Crowley whispered and came closer, leaning to press their mouths together.

He regretted it immediately when Aziraphale froze, his shoulders going stiff as a board under Crowley’s hands. Too fast, Crowley thought frantically. Too fast. Stop.

As he pulled back, Aziraphale came alive and lunged, crashing not just their lips together but their whole bodies. Crowley staggered, taking Aziraphale with him, and soon found himself bent backwards over something, the top of his head brushed by—

He broke away to growl, “Not the plants. They don’t need to see this.” He tore off his sunglasses while he was at it and heard them crack as they hit the floor.

Aziraphale hauled him back before he could get another word in, and this time when their mouths met, they were open. Their tongues touched, wet and hesitant, and when Aziraphale moaned, Crowley could taste it.

He didn’t want to stop, not even to relocate. So he thought hard instead and managed to miracle them to both to his bedroom. Aziraphale grunted, another sound that Crowley could feel as though it were his own, but he didn’t otherwise react as Crowley shoved him backwards onto the bed and, still kissing him, climbed on top, settling between his parted thighs.

Aziraphale wrapped his arms around Crowley, wove his fingers into the hair at Crowley’s nape, and arched that soft, exquisite form of his in a way that made Crowley burn like he was lying on consecrated ground. Which he was, in a way, he supposed, and that thought was enough to break through the clanging bells of yes, yes, yes in his mind.

He pulled back, their mouths separating with a wet noise more obscene than Aziraphale’s chocolate-savouring ones, but he didn’t go far. Even if Aziraphale’s grip on his neck weren’t keeping Crowley close, not even the very best of Crowley’s intentions could convince him to put any more distance between them.

“You do know,” Crowley said, “what, er, what we’re going towards here with this, don’t you?”

“I was once a member of a discreet gentlemen’s club. I may not have partaken in the more risqué goings-on of the other members, but I did learn a great deal from them.”

It was hard to focus, when Aziraphale refused to look anywhere but at Crowley’s lips and with such blatant longing.

“So, you…” was all Crowley managed before Aziraphale’s fingers tightened and yanked and Crowley forgot what he was meant to be asking.

Aziraphale said, in a voice so low and sinful that Crowley shuddered, “I might’ve ‘tossed off’ a few times myself.”

Oh, Crowley thought helplessly, God and Satan and everyone in between. He rested his hands on Aziraphale’s chest, and the plethora of buttons and other fastenings that had always driven Crowley a bit mad but never so much as now. “Yeah? What did you think about?”

“Many of the same things you did, I would wager.”

Fuck. Crowley wasn’t sure he’d ever been harder. He had to shut his eyes, barely clinging to his control. “Didn’t think your lot did lust. That’s more our thing.”

“Lust? No, I suppose not. But, when you think about it, lust and love are really just two sides of the same coin, aren’t they?”

Crowley shuddered again. It couldn’t be this easy. Everything he’d wanted gift-wrapped with a bow on top and placed right in his lap so all he had to do was accept it.

“I—” He swallowed. “I should warn you: I have a lot of lust.”

“How fortunate. Because I have a lot of love.” Aziraphale let go of Crowley’s hair and tugged at the collar of his jacket instead. “Take these off, and I’ll show you.”

With a snap of his fingers, Crowley took Aziraphale’s clothes off as well while he was at it.

He was lowering himself, succumbing to Aziraphale’s greedy hands and even greedier mouth, when he realised something.

“What…?” Crowley glanced between them, and sure enough, where his hard cock was rubbing between Aziraphale’s open thighs, there was only a stretch of smooth, genital-less skin. “Aziraphale!”

“What ‘what’?” Aziraphale groused, like Crowley was the one not making an effort. Then he, too, realised. “Oh, that.”

“‘Oh, that’?”

“Well, I don’t…keep them on hand, you know. If it’s one configuration, it’s always erect. If it’s the other, it’s always moist. And all those fluids… It ruins my clothes, Crowley.” Aziraphale was flushed now, his expression pinched with embarrassment. “Better to simply reach for them when I need them.”

Crowley set aside the thought of what Aziraphale was doing to make himself so hard and wet all the time. Something to ponder later—at length. “You don’t think you need them now? Give me something to work with, angel.”

Blushing even more fiercely now, Aziraphale waved an arm and gave himself a cock. It was soft and small at first, although when Crowley rubbed his stiff, thickened one against it, it gave a little jump and began to fill.

It was the loveliest cock Crowley had ever seen. Flushed as pink as Aziraphale’s cheeks and without a hair in sight, and what it didn’t grow in girth it more than made up for in length.

If Aziraphale fucked him with it, it would as good as scramble Crowley’s insides. If he sucked it, it would fill his throat and perhaps then some.

He didn’t recognise the sound that came out of his own mouth, halfway between a groan of ecstasy and one of torture. He was distantly aware of Aziraphale sitting up on his elbows, saying with alarm, “Crowley, are you— Did I do it wrong?”

Crowley hastened downwards, took that long prick between his lips, and moaned when it filled him exactly as he thought it would. He started drooling without even willing it, giving himself plenty of wetness to ease the way as he bobbed and sucked and did his best to fuck that lovely cock with his throat.

So much for foreplay, he thought dimly, a touch worriedly.

But if Aziraphale minded, he wasn’t showing it. His hands were in Crowley’s hair, his hips rocking eagerly with Crowley’s rhythm, and he was crying out a litany of “Yes, oh, oh, yes” that was sweeter than any music Crowley had ever heard. He’d record it and listen to it while he drove, until it metamorphosed to the Best of Queen of course, if Aziraphale would let him.

He gripped Aziraphale’s hips, at first to keep him from getting too wild with his writhing, but once Crowley’s fingertips sank into the soft skin there, reminding him of the even plusher skin that was only a few inches downwards and underneath, he changed tack.

He pulled off Aziraphale’s cock, shoved Aziraphale’s thighs up until his knees were bent near his chest, and finally got a look at the bottom that had started this whole thing along with Aziraphale’s ridiculous ‘lick butt’ comment.

“Oh, my dear,” said Aziraphale, sounding faint as Crowley dove in and licked at his tight little arsehole. His nails clawed at Crowley’s scalp.

The pain, slight though it was, shooed away some of the fog from Crowley’s filthy, wicked mind. He drew back, gazing up into Aziraphale’s face—trying not to get distracted by the red, still-wet cock and heavy balls in front of him.

And then he tried not to get distracted by Aziraphale’s heavy-lidded, bitten-mouthed expression, which Crowley suspected he would be seeing in his fantasies for the rest of eternity.

“Too fast?” Crowley asked roughly.

In answer, Aziraphale used his hold on Crowley’s head to nudge him back to what he’d been doing. Echoing Aziraphale’s moan, Crowley went at the task with twice as much enthusiasm.

There was no hair here either, nothing but smooth skin between Aziraphale’s arse cheeks, and of course that wrinkled rim of muscle, which was closed tight and did little more than twitch as Crowley bathed and prodded it with his tongue.

It was likely involuntary, a natural facet of the human body that Aziraphale had simply replicated, but the thought of Aziraphale doing it intentionally—teasing like a tart, making Crowley work for it—thrilled Crowley to the core.

He ate at it, hard and wet, strengthening his tongue to assist and then forking it for the Hell of it, until gradually the muscle loosened and allowed him past. Aziraphale was so hot inside, as tight and difficult to manoeuvre in as his entrance had been.

Not to mention the sounds Aziraphale was making, the soft cries and whimpers, and how imperatively he was clutching Crowley’s head, grinding Crowley’s face so hard between his arse cheeks that if Crowley had needed to breathe it would’ve been a problem.

But as it was, it was the closest to true bliss that Crowley could recall ever being.

It went on for a long time. Too long, possibly, since by the time Crowley returned to his senses, Aziraphale’s legs were shaking under his hands and the only noises Aziraphale was making were weak gasps.

Crowley jerked back, wiping his chin. He sat up and startled when Aziraphale promptly, although unsteadily, lowered his thighs so that they bracketed Crowley’s waist.

“Angel,” Crowley said. “All right?”

Aziraphale blinked up at him, dazedly, the very picture of blasphemous debauchery on Crowley’s black, wrinkled duvet. His light, fluffed hair shone like a halo above him, and his nipples had hardened into tiny peaks that begged for teeth.

Most enchanting of all, however, was his cock, which was harder and redder than it had been before. It was also puddled in its own pearlish-white juices, and as Crowley watched, it pulsed and dribbled some more.

“Oh, fuck,” Crowley said, feeling and sounding like he’d been punched in the throat. “Ssshit. Damn. Did you come?” He’d smite himself, somehow, if he’d missed it.

Aziraphale shook his head. Then he crossed his ankles and dug his heels into Crowley’s tailbone. “Do it. Please, darling, I want it.”

“Want what?” Crowley choked out, as though it wasn’t obvious. As though the upwards tilt of Aziraphale’s hips didn’t speak well enough for itself, as though Crowley’s cock wasn’t already pointing in that direction and aching for it.

With a grunt of impatience, Aziraphale propped himself up enough that he could reach down, grab Crowley’s prick, and force the matter. They both moaned when Crowley slipped inside without a hint of resistance.

But whatever Aziraphale had done to ease the penetration and make every inch of him as slick as if they’d sacrificed an entire bottle of lubricant to the task, it didn’t stop him from being maddeningly tight.

Don’t come, Crowley told himself—begged, really. Don’t ruin it. Hold on just a little longer.

For once, his cock behaved, even when it was fully seated and Aziraphale was clenching around him, wiggling his hips like he was damned determined to drive Crowley out of his mind before they’d even got to the best part.

“Feel all right?” Crowley asked, his voice a wavery near-whisper.

Much of the dazedness had cleared from Aziraphale’s face—a pity, but Crowley hoped that if he played his cards right, it would return soon enough—and he licked his lips as he peered up at Crowley, like even he wasn’t sure what he was feeling.

“Yes. Feels…feels lovely.” He motioned towards Crowley. “Come here.”

Crowley moved gingerly, trying not to jostle either of them too much as he angled forward. He meant, as he assumed that Aziraphale had been intimating, to bring their lips together again and have a good, long snog until they figured out how best to proceed. But when he was leaning only slightly, just barely bending over Aziraphale, Aziraphale jolted beneath him.

“Oh,” he sighed. “Oh, Lord. That’s good. Stay there, but…maybe just a little…”

Crowley thrust, if it could be called that. It was a minute movement, a very tentative nudge of his cock deeper into Aziraphale, but Aziraphale moaned and trembled like it had been much, much more.

“Yes,” Aziraphale said. “Darling, yes. No!” Crowley, who had thrust a touch harder that time, froze. “No, slow, please, I—oh, yes. That’s it.”

As if to underscore that point, Aziraphale’s prick jerked between their bodies and gave another viscous dribble. Crowley grit his teeth and rocked his hips slowly—so, so slowly, so gently—and then grinned, triumphant, when Aziraphale whimpered and leaked some more.

It was torturous. Far worse than any torture Hell could think up, in fact, because even though it hurt and it stretched Crowley’s restraint as thin and fragile as a spider’s thread, it was euphoric—the nearest thing to paradise as he could envision.

Aziraphale looked beautiful beneath him, his head tipped back and his mouth open, his eyes unfocused, like he’d been transported to a state of rapture no one else could conceive of.

It went on and on and on. Crowley wondered if he was going to have to spend the rest of eternity like this, trapped between bliss and torment. Adoration flooded him at the idea. Overcome, he forgot himself and tried to bury his face in Aziraphale’s neck.

Aziraphale’s miserable “No, no, please no,” how desperately he arched and squirmed to maintain that perfect angle, swiftly reminded Crowley of his place.

Crowley’s cock throbbed with the need to come and, when he refused to give in, ached hard enough to make him sob. He told it to fuck off. If this was what Aziraphale wanted, then this was what he would get. Even if it damn well wrecked Crowley.

Aziraphale reached for him suddenly with one hand. Crowley grabbed it in one of his own and brought it to his mouth, kissed the palm, the wrist, anywhere he could reach.

“What is it, sweetheart?” he said into Aziraphale’s skin, in a voice like gravel and sandpaper and little bits of charred debris. “What do you need?”

“Harder. Just…the tiniest—” Aziraphale’s jaw dropped as Crowley did precisely that, grinding hard. “Oh, God. Oh, Lord. Please. Oh, like that, there, please.”

“Anything,” Crowley swore. “Anything you want, angel. It’s yoursss.”

That was all that Aziraphale needed, it seemed. With a powerful full-body shudder, he bit his bottom lip, stared into Crowley’s eyes, and came.

Crowley watched greedily, relishing the sight and the fierce pride he felt. Crowley had done that, and with nothing but his cock in Aziraphale’s arse, giving Aziraphale everything he needed.

Aziraphale kept moving afterwards, pulsing his hips in the rhythm Crowley had set. Fuck, Crowley thought, I really will be doing this all eternity.

Aloud, he croaked, “Again?”

“No,” said Aziraphale. “Well, yes, but you.” He clenched around Crowley and looked devilishly pleased when Crowley blessed through a moan. “I want you to…you know, in me.”

Crowley did know, and that was all the permission he needed. He pitched forward, gathering Aziraphale close, cherishing Aziraphale’s cry, and growled, “You want me to come in you? Isss that what you want? You want me to fill you up?”

“Yes,” Aziraphale gasped. His head fell back, baring the full length of his throat for Crowley to kiss and suck. “Yes, do it.”

It didn’t take long. In fact, it was almost immediate, finished in only one proper thrust, but Aziraphale’s blissful sounds went a long way in assuaging whatever shame Crowley might’ve felt.

And in the short time it took him to be done and to pull out, Aziraphale had managed to get hard again. His prick lay stiff against his abdomen, drenched in drying come and precome. Crowley didn’t hesitate to crawl back down and take it into his mouth while he pushed two fingers into Aziraphale’s loose, wet hole.

Aziraphale was well and clean, give or take a bit of saliva, by the time he came a second time, and Crowley swallowed all of it smugly.

“Yes,” Aziraphale said weakly. “Bless you, yes.”

He held out his arms in invitation, and Crowley dove into them, nuzzling the fresh pink marks on Aziraphale’s neck while Aziraphale buried his nose in Crowley’s hair and breathed in. Crowley wondered if Aziraphale coveted Crowley’s scent like Crowley did his.

“You’re a demanding one, aren’t you?” Crowley murmured, not bothering to hide his pleasure, vast and indomitable as it was. His hands roamed, as did Aziraphale’s, making up for all the foreplay and exploring that they had skipped before. “And I’m guessing not so experienced, hm?”

Aziraphale pulled away, frowning. “Was it that obvious?”

“Nah.” Crowley tugged him back, grinning to clarify that he was teasing fondly. “Not at all. Just…can’t imagine there are many others who would put up with that. It was all ‘me, me, me.’ I thought angels were supposed to be selfless.”

Aziraphale returned the smile just as fondly. “That was being selfless. I was giving you ample opportunity to ff—to fuck all the sense right out of me.”

That word… Crowley could fuck him again now. He really could. But he only said, “All the sense?”

“Mm-hm. Give me a moment, and I’ll show you what I mean.”

 


 

Days later, fully clothed—minus the sunglasses, at Aziraphale’s request in the midst of a torrent of gentle neck kisses—Crowley checked on his houseplants, ensuring they hadn’t been traumatised by what little of the proceedings they’d witnessed. Aziraphale, meanwhile, wandered off to investigate the kitchen.

The plants were fine, more or less. Dreadfully overwatered, as Aziraphale had pointed out, but that was fine. They could recover.

“He’s going to be soft on you,” Crowley warned them in an undertone. “I can tell already. Cooing and praise and all sorts of nonsense. But you won’t forget, will you, who owns you and what I will do if you slack off and disappoint me?”

Satisfied that their leaves were trembling in fear and awe, Crowley turned and made his way to the kitchen.

He found Aziraphale gazing at the cooker—in pristine condition, since Crowley had never touched it—with proverbial stars in his eyes.

“It’s perfect,” Aziraphale said. “All of it. What shall we make for our first dish?”

Our first dish. Crowley just barely stopped himself smiling like a sop. “Well. We have to get the supplies first. Pots, pans, plates, cutlery…”

“Yes, of course, but after that. What do you say to sole meunière? Mm, or perhaps we should skip straight to dessert. A Gateau St. Honoré?”

“Or,” Crowley said, imagining disastrous messes and fire risks and an evening of arguing if something went wrong, “we could start with something more basic. Maybe…crêpes?”

“Crêpes,” Aziraphale echoed, the way that most people said God or free gift. “Oh, I do so enjoy crêpes.”

“I know, angel,” said Crowley, tenderly. There were probably stars in his own eyes. At least he didn’t have to hide them anymore. “I know.”