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So Longeth My Soul After Thee

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“Closer.”

“Crowley, it is physically impossible for me to hold you any tighter without crushing you.”

They are tangled up on Aziraphale’s sofa, which, at its age, has no right to be as comfortable as it is. Aziraphale is mostly on top of Crowley, who has all of his long limbs wrapped around the angel. Aziraphale’s arms are around Crowley’s waist, hands trapped beneath his all-angles body. Thank goodness their circulation is only for show, or there would be inconvenient pins and needles to deal with on top of everything else.

“Y’can’t crush me,” insists Crowley. “I’m a snake, I should know.”

“Right now you have a human corporation that can only withstand so much pressure.”

“Human corporations can’t withstand burning Bentleys, yet here we are. I don’t need the blood flow, angel. Don’t technically even need to breathe.”

“Here then,” Aziraphale says, extracting one hand from the perfect press of Crowley’s back and using it to tip Crowley’s chin the way Aziraphale wants it. “Try this.”

He proceeds to subject Crowley to the most merciless snog that has yet been reported this side of the apocalypse. You don’t need to breathe, Aziraphale thinks, and neither do I.

“Mmmmmmph,” says Crowley, and that long low moan has Aziraphale freeing his other hand, shifting so he’s truly got Crowley pinned, and winding his fingers through Crowley’s hair, which he intends to thoroughly wreck. He manages all of his without breaking contact between his mouth and Crowley’s.

Crowley, for his part, is fairly going to pieces.

This isn’t the first time they’ve held each other, isn’t the first time they’ve kissed like this, but part of him still hasn’t adjusted to the fact that they get to do this without the fear of dangerous parties watching, caring. Six thousand years of knowing Aziraphale, of having a vested interest in his happiness, of radiating the kind of ardent devotion he didn’t expect to be matched even if it were allowed to be returned, to go from that to being the subject of Aziraphale’s open attention, affection, adoration, to go from that to this—

The Bentley’s never been in a crash, but Crowley knows what whiplash feels like.

He digs his fingers into Aziraphale’s shirt, twists his head so that Aziraphale inadvertently pulls his hair. Crowley almost wants this to feel like a blood sport, wants them both covered in scratches and bite marks and bruises, “this immortal being belongs to me” written in the blood under their skin. They only bruise if they want to, and oh, Crowley wants to.

They’ve been kissing so long, Crowley realizes, that if they were human they’d be blue in the face.

Bastard angel. Crowley adores him.

Aziraphale finally sets him free, only to yank at his hair properly so he has to look Aziraphale in the eye.

Those heaven-blue eyes. He wants to fall into them, wants to disappear in them and still stay himself. The thought stirs a memory, like an itch he can't quite reach.

“Shall we…?” Aziraphale trails off, happy for Crowley to suggest how the rest of the evening should go.

They don’t need to make love the way humans do, but of course they don’t need to sleep or eat either, and look how they’ve taken to that. It’s just that they both have to do something with all these fucking feelings. Of course those feelings are also behind the long walks and the long meals and the strictly unnecessary naps (Aziraphale has become exactly as fond of silk pajamas as one would expect), but there are still so fucking many of them and they are so strong that it’s like a river overflowing its banks, except that the banks are a six-thousand year streak of not-fucking that is now at a blessèd, glorious end.

So they have quite a lot of sex, and they make whatever sort of Effort they feel like at the moment, and it’s anyone’s guess whether it will be instigated by Crowley (via seductions that have lasted anywhere from fifteen minutes to three entire days, or, in one particularly egregious case, approximately six thousand years) or by Aziraphale (via throwing Crowley up against the nearest flat surface and proceeding from there).

“You know that thing you do,” says Crowley, “where you—you look at me like I’m something you can’t wait to eat?”

“Mmmmhmm.”

“You could do that. And then when you’re done, I could…” Crowley brushes his fingertips across Aziraphale’s temple.

Aziraphale rubs his head against Crowley’s hand like a cat. “Delightful,” he says. “But a bit easier upstairs, I think. More room.”

Crowley shakes his head. “Too much room. Stay here.” Aziraphale opens his mouth to protest. “You’ll figure it out.”

Aziraphale sighs. “What am I going to do with you,” he asks, nuzzling into Crowley’s neck as he starts to untie Crowley’s collar. “So needy, you know you are. No use protesting, I know you don’t like to admit it, but facts are facts.” He sucks on the soft skin behind Crowley’s ear, hard, and starts to yank buttons out of buttonholes. He drops kisses across Crowley’s face, on every spot of skin where an eye would be if Crowley were a principality in their true form.

Aziraphale doesn’t want him to be an angel. Aziraphale likes him the way he is, and says so.

Crowley doesn’t whimper. He doesn’t. Demons don’t whimper.

“Oh, like that, do you?” says Aziraphale, pushing Crowley’s shirt open. He sucks at Crowley’s neck, sinks a proper bite into his shoulder. “God, you’re the most delicious thing I’ve ever seen. All those years of sitting across a table from me, did you ever wish it was you I was putting in my mouth?”

“Are you suggesting I was jealous of a petit-four?”

“Were you?” Aziraphale drags his tongue across one of Crowley’s nipples.

“Insanely,” Crowley chokes.

“You don’t need to worry anymore, love. Right now you’re the only thing I have a taste for.” He kisses further down Crowley’s stomach, then rests his cheek there and meets Crowley’s gaze. “You’re the only thing that can satisfy me.”

Eternity suddenly doesn’t sound so bad, Crowley reasons, if he could spend it watching Aziraphale look up through his eyelashes like that.

Aziraphale takes Crowley absolutely apart, sucks at his fingers, yanks off his trousers and kisses his ankles.

“What is it with you and ankles, angel?”

“Bit like wrists, aren’t they?” Aziraphale answers. “Skin’s thin, very sensitive. And you just have to follow the lines up from there…” He rests one of Crowley’s feet on his shoulder and kisses and sucks and bites up Crowley’s calf, past his knee. “Did you really think I wasn’t going to…” He presses soft kisses to the softest part of Crowley’s thigh.

“Don’t be sweet,” Crowley says.

“But you are sweet.”

“I am absolutely not.”

“Crowley.”

“Mm?”

“Stop talking.”

Aziraphale redoubles his efforts with such vigor that further speech truly is impossible. He knows exactly where Crowley wants him and makes Crowley wait for it. When he does press his mouth between Crowley’s legs, it’s only for a short, intense taste, and then he’s kissing Crowley’s mouth again, plundering him like a thief in the night, both hands knotted in Crowley’s hair as they rock against each other until Crowley comes with a cry that Aziraphale feels on his own tongue more than he actually hears it.

They stay still for a few long, perfect moments, just lying with each other.

“Suit your pleasure, darling?” Aziraphale asks.

“Mmm, yes, good. Very good.”

But still not quite close enough, Crowley thinks.

“Up you get,” he says after a few more minutes, vanishing inconvenient stickiness with a wave of his hand.

Aziraphale sits up. Crowley wriggles back into his pants and rearranges himself so that he’s sitting somewhat properly at one end of the sofa. (Crowley considers it a point of demonic pride that he has never technically sat correctly in a chair, thus inspiring Wrath in every authoritarian schoolteacher who’s ever seen him in public.)

“Alright,” Crowley says once he’s settled back in. “Come here.”

Aziraphale stretches himself across the length of the sofa, head resting on Crowley’s lap.

“Comfortable?” Crowley asks. Aziraphale nods. “Open your eyes.”

Aziraphale obeys.

“I love to watch your eyes when we do this,” Crowley murmurs. His voice is quiet, so quiet, as he brushes his fingertips across Aziraphale’s temple.

They discovered this one day when Crowley hung around the bookshop spouting weird sex facts he’d come across during weeks of research. (Tempting people to lust involved attraction and desire, not actual knowledge of human sexual biology. Crowley has been studying attraction and desire on an often uncomfortably personal level for thousands of years, but had not actually partaken of the joys of the flesh, unlike a certain angel he could mention.)

“Did you know,” Crowley said, “that some people can orgasm without any sexual stimulation at all?”

“Makes sense,” Aziraphale responded, not looking up from the volume of Christina Rossetti he was assessing. “Orgasm technically happens in the brain, it’s all about neurons. Brain’s the largest erogenous organ.”

They tried an experiment shortly thereafter that required the Rossetti to be left for another day.

Now Crowley gazes down at Aziraphale, searching out the right neurons and firing them with a thought. He probably doesn’t actually need to touch Aziraphale while he does it, but it makes things easier, and anyway, they both like it, the stroke of long fingers across the face of one who is beloved.

“How’s that then?” Crowley asks. Aziraphale sighs and presses his head against Crowley’s lap.

“It’s…” His eyes flutter shut.

“I said eyes open, angel.”

“Sorry, yes, I…oh.”

There have been studies, Crowley knows, on the erotic and romantic importance of sustained eye contact. (It’s possible he also came across this during his research bender.) This isn’t about forging a deeper connection, however. It’s about naming the one that’s already there.

They see each other. They always have, even if they didn’t want to admit it for so long, or just couldn’t. They’ve seen each other since the wall in Eden, neither wholly one thing nor the other, a demon who craves an angel’s light and an angel who wants to wrap himself in a bit of a demon’s darkness.

Apocalypse is from the Greek, and its literal meaning is uncovering.

Well, thinks Crowley. It was successful in that sense. Nothing to hide anymore, from themselves or Heaven or Hell. They’ve gone into this with their eyes open.

“D’you love me?” Crowley whispers, sending a shock of pleasure through Aziraphale that has the angel reaching for the back of Crowley’s neck.

“Madly,” Aziraphale answers. “Beyond all reason, with all the fury and glory of Heaven.”

“Ngh,” says Crowley, as though he is the one whose dopamine receptors are lighting up like a meteor shower.

“And you, my dear?”

“Oh, angel. I shall live in thy heart, die in thy lap, and be buried in thine eyes.” Aziraphale giggles. “What? You’re not the only one who can quote things. It’s the best line in the whole play.”

“No, it is, it is,” Aziraphale assures him. “It’s the pun.”

“What pun?”

“Really, sweetheart, did you sleep through the sixteenth century too?”

“Shut up.”

“It’s slang. To die. Means orgasm.”

“That cheeky bastard.”

“He was a natural where the jokes were concerned. Of course,” Aziraphale’s breath is starting to stutter, “very shortly I’m the one who’s going to be dying in your lap. Unh, Crowley, darling, fuck.”

Aziraphale’s orgasm is quiet, but Crowley ensures it’s quite long.

 

They curl together after, Crowley happily pressed between Aziraphale’s back and the back of the sofa.

“Screwtape!” he exclaims, apropos of nothing.

“What on earth?” Aziraphale asks.

“Not on earth,” says Crowley. “In Hell. I was thinking, earlier—that, well, ah, I was thinking…” Aziraphale presses back against him. Crowley clings tighter, savoring the comfort of his lover’s body. “You’ve read The Screwtape Letters.

“Of course, Jack Lewis was one of ours. Not right about everything, of course, got a bit heavy-handed with the last Narnia books, if you ask me, but he tried, bless him.” (And Heaven had.) “Have you read Screwtape?”

“Course.”

“Thought you didn’t like to admit to reading.”

“I like to keep an eye on what the humans are saying about Hell. Jack Lewis came shockingly close. Bureaucracy and all that. Doesn’t resemble a university as much as he imagined it might, honestly, professors, but he’s bang-on about a lot of other things. The devouring, for one thing. You’d think the man had met Hastur personally. And there was another thing he said, God wants a world full of beings united to Her but still distinct.”

“Mmhmm.”

“That’s how I feel about you.”

Aziraphale wiggles and turns in his arms so that they are face to face.

“When I say I need to be close to you,” Crowley explains, “I don’t just want to be inside you, it’s like I want to be you, to climb into your spirit and love you from inside, but still be myself. The human stuff is great, it is, but it just doesn’t feel like enough.”

“Ah,” Aziraphale says. He brushes a bit of Crowley’s hair away from his forehead. “How much do you, ah, remember from Before?”

“Nearly all of it.”

Nearly all of it?

“Best way to cast an angel out of Heaven is to make sure they never forget what they’ve lost.”

Aziraphale sighs. They don't have time to unpack all of that right now. “Do you remember how—how ethereal beings, ah, make love to each other?”

“Believe me when I say I have never considered how your co-workers get down and dirty.”

“That’s one thing they took from you, then. If you remembered, you’d know.”

“Remembered what?”

Aziraphale sighs. “There’s not a good name for it in human languages. Essence-mixing, maybe.”

“’S there a word in Enochian?” Aziraphale nods and names it. “Doesn’t ring a bell.”

“It’s essentially what you’re describing, climbing into each other’s spirits, but you remain yourself. We could, ah, try it, if you like.”

“Right now?”

“Hmm, best not, not here.”

“Not in the bookshop?”

“Not in the city of London.”

“Ah.”

“It’s not exactly meant for the mortal plane, but let me look into it. I’m sure I can find a work around.”

“Isn’t that the story of our lives.”

 

A week later Aziraphale hangs an ON HOLIDAY sign in the shop door. They get in the Bentley and drive to the remotest part of the South Downs they can find.

“The true wilderness is disappearing,” Aziraphale sighs. “Always best to do this kind of thing in thin places. If we ever find ourselves on Iona…”

“Bit of a hike. Lots of trains. And a bus. And a boat.”

“But the mussels they sell on the Oban dock are exquisite.”

Bless it, thinks Crowley, now they’ll have to go. So Aziraphale can get his mussels. Just for that. The promise of marathon essence mixing doesn’t play into it in the slightest.

Crowley drives as far as the roads will take them. “What now?” he asks as they get out of the car. Aziraphale takes his hand and miracles them a mile away, in the midst of some truly deserted hills. Crowley thinks he can hear the ocean.

“Okay,” Aziraphale says. “So.”

Crowley waits until it becomes apparent Aziraphale doesn’t have anything else to say. “Yes? How do we do this?”

“The thing is, I don’t exactly know.”

“What? I thought you spent the last week looking into things!”

“It’s not as though we’ve got it written down somewhere!”

“And you’ve never done it before?”

“You’ve met my colleagues—”

“Former—”

“Former colleagues, they’re not exactly the cozy type, and then I was on earth for six thousand years. I’ve mostly got second-hand knowledge, and, well, instinct.”

A corner of Crowley’s mouth kicks up. “Instinct, you say.”

“What are you smirking at?”

“Instinct always served the humans well. Wasn’t anyone around to teach Adam and Eve how to—”

“Oh, come here, you wily serpent.”

Aziraphale tugs Crowley to him, wraps Crowley in his arms, bumps their foreheads together.

“Think back to what you told me in the bookshop,” he says. “Climb inside me, my dear, and I’ll crash into you.” The wind picks up. Everything starts to go a bit fuzzy. “Fill me up, Crowley. Come closer.”

The world blurs like chalk in a rainstorm. Aziraphale is everywhere, all around him, inside him, he’s a mist, a perfume, a crashing wave, he is absolutely none of those things, Aziraphale is himself and Crowley is himself and they are the same self.

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck, Crowley would think, were he currently in a form capable of linear thought. So this is divine ecstasy.

It’s everything the humans get from the very best sex, added to everything that a divine mystical revelation entails, dialed up to a hundred.

Should he even be able to do this? He isn’t an angel, hasn’t been for ages, they took this away from even his memories. He reaches out to Aziraphale, feels nothing but the same trembling ecstasy reaching back for him.

It’s comforting and tumultuous and erotic as Heaven, what is an orgasm but a guttering candle compared to this.

For the first time in—well, maybe ever—Crowley is satisfied.

Time is for humans, and so are words. It’s not easy to explain how they decide to come down, they just do, and there they are, clinging to each other in the middle of a torrential downpour.

“Did we do this?” Crowley says over the wind.

“There’s a strong likelihood,” answers Aziraphale. “Back to the car?”

“How far are we? Mile? Let’s walk. Don’t look like that, I’ll miracle you dry.”

Aziraphale doesn’t let go of Crowley’s hand for the entire walk back.

 

“You look the same,” Crowley says, once they’re inside the Bentley, miraculously dry. “Do I look the same? How could we possibly look the same?”

“You liked it, then?”

“Oh, angel.” He can’t say anything more. He doesn’t need to.

“Regular weekends in the country, then. Maybe we should look into a cottage.”

Crowley starts the car with a thought. From you go too fast to let’s invest in real estate to make our ethereal/occult sex adventures more convenient in less than one hundred years. How far they’ve come.

“Oh, what’s this?” Aziraphale asks, searching through the CD cases for something that might match what’s coming through the speakers. “It’s lovely.”

“There isn’t anything in there,” Crowley says, glaring at the dashboard. Someone is trying to make a point. “It plays music on its own sometimes. Bit on the nose, in this case.”

“I like it.”

You fill up my senses, come fill me again.

“It’s John Denver. This was his only hit single in the UK. 1974.” From the first time Crowley heard it, there was only ever one person it made him think of.

Come let me love you, let me give my life to you.

“Why does it remind me of Tchaikovsky?”

“First five notes are the same as the Fifth Symphony. Second movement.”

“Ah, yes.”

Let me drown in your laughter, let me die in your arms.

“Wasn't it John Denver who wrote that one about Western Virginia?”

Crowley snorted. He had been asleep when West Virginia became a state, of course, but he appreciated the background wrath that radiated off West Virginians when people got the name wrong.

“It’s West Virginia, angel, and yes. Almost heaven.”

Let me lay down beside you, let me always be with you.

“Well, he was wrong about that. West Virginia and Heaven look nothing alike.”

“Personally, I’d prefer the mountains.”

“Oh, without a doubt.”

Aziraphale reaches over and laces his fingers through Crowley’s.

Come let me love you, come love me again.