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In Which Crowley Learns What Sandalphon Did

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“I could be very tough if I wanted,” Aziraphale argued, as Crowley somehow stretched out to take up even more of the sofa.

Oh, angel,” Crowley said, and grinned up at him, rolling his head back to do so. “You're wearing a cardigan and sipping cocoa. You've said yourself that you're soft.”

I am,” Aziraphale said, taking another sip of said cocoa. His cardigan was very soft, oatmeal-coloured, and the perfect barrier against a chilly autumn night. “I said I could be tough if I wanted to. Besides, you don't know everything about me, I have been quite tough. In the past.”

Name once,” Crowley challenged.

When Michael, Uriel and Sandalphon just absolutely menaced me, about the whole Antichrist matter,” Aziraphale told him, very pleased with himself. “Sandalphon even gave me a little punch, and I hardly reacted. If that's not being hard, I don't know what is.”

Crowley saw red.

He did what?” he hissed, sitting up properly for perhaps the first time in his life, and definitely the first time in their cottage by the sea. “He laid hands on you? Where, angel?”

Oh, just outside that cafe down the street from the bookshop, you know the one, where you get a flake with your hot choc?”

Crowley took a deep, deep breath, in the hopes that it would help.

It did not. Now he was furious and well-oxygenated, for what that was worth.

No, angel,” he said, fighting every instinct to turn into a large snake and go eat Sandalphon. Slowly. Very slowly. “Where on you? Did he hurt you?”

Oh! My, well, my stomach. Like this.” Aziraphale made the single worst fist ever made in the history of the world, and pushed it into Crowley's belly. Even with the light touch, Crowley could feel it curl up, nearly under his ribs. “And I told you, of course it hurt, but I hardly reacted.”

Uh huh,” Crowley said, while he contemplated his options.

Sandalphon had sucker-punched his angel . Someone had hurt Aziraphale, and that someone was still walking freely, or whatever it was that psychopathic weirdo did. Crowley was going to burn them all down, the whole rotten lot of them. It wasn't that Hell was going to win, but Heaven, who hated and bullied a perfectly okay angel just because he was soft – oh, Crowley was going to take them down.

Darling, you're starting to steam a little,” Aziraphale said. And then, finally recognizing what he was seeing, “Oh, Crowley, no. Don't be upset. It's all over now.”

Oh, angel,” Crowley said softly. He reached over and rested his hand on Aziraphale's belly, feeling the warmth of his skin, his whole body, through the sensible cardigan. His stomach was so soft. It always had been; he'd not changed at all since they'd met that first time. “I'm not upset.”

Well, good, you shouldn't be,” Aziraphale said. “Now, will you admit that I'm quite tough?”

I'm furiousssss,” Crowley hissed. “How dare they. How very fucking dare they touch you, and get away with it.”

Crowley, you're not to take on Sandalphon yourself. I forbid it,” Aziraphale said firmly, as he understood more of what he was dealing with.

Crowley hissed.

No,” Aziraphale repeated. “I mean it. You wouldn't stand a chance, not even if we switched faces, and then where would I be? Without you, that's where,” he added. Sometimes Crowley was a little slow. “And it's not your half of the expenses I'd miss.” Very slow, sometimes.

I don't have to like it,” Crowley said.

I know, dear. Come now, calm down – oh no, you're still steaming a little. Here, lie down.” Despite the trickles of steam coming off of him, Aziraphale gentled Crowley down to rest his head in his lap. It was Crowley's not-so-secret favourite place in the world. “There's a good lad, just be still for a little bit. Oh, you'll like this – Uriel, they're more clever than both of us. They said I shouldn't rely on my boyfriend coming to save me. They meant you, of course – and look at us now, an old married couple or good as, retired to the South Downs.”

They were wrong,” Crowley said, turning so he could look up at his hus- his boy- his angel. “We always save each other. That's us. For six thousand years.”

Of course,” Aziraphale said. “I knew that. There now, see, everything's fine. I'm fine, darling. I promise you.”

Crowley grumbled, and pressed his face into Aziraphale's stomach for a kiss before he settled back down, curled up resentfully on the sofa with his head still in Aziraphale's lap. “Drink your cocoa.”

Of course, dear,” Aziraphale said, and that's when he discovered that his half-empty mug was now full and steaming. And there were marshmallows. Heart-shaped ones, bobbling gently on top of the cocoa.

Aziraphale suddenly, on a deep, nay, molecular level, understood those cat owners who went on about how he was just a soppy old moggy really while their cat's eyes glowed with rage and they hissed and attempted to claw Aziraphale's throat out if he so much as looked at them.

He sipped his cocoa and smiled. Sure, he could be tough. He was the angel of the Eastern Gate. He had commanded an angelic platoon, once. He could still wield the flaming sword, and he had gone fearlessly into Hell to save his best friend. But cocoa on an autumn evening by the fire, his beloved demon curled up semi-resentfully in his lap, finally no longer looking like a teakettle – that was so much better.