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Seven Minutes (Years) in Heaven

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1793-1800 were the best 7 years of his immortal life. Crowley should have known that it was too good to be true. 

He had been passing through Paris after taking credit for the Reign of Terror, because really, it was getting ridiculously easy to slack off and fool his superiors nowadays, when it felt like an alarm bell went off in his veins, if that were possible. He sighed outwardly, but was worried internally. Aziraphale had gotten himself in trouble again, but fortunately, it wasn’t hard to get him out of his predicament this time around. Aziraphale treated him to crepes after, and that was all nice and good, but they had way too much wine, and he had been staring at Crowley with warm eyes and a gentle smile. Crowley always melted at that look, and had to keep drinking to ignore his stupid heart.

It turned out that those efforts would prove futile, not because of his own lack of self-control (he was the tempter, so he happened to have quite a lot of control over his impulses), but because of Aziraphale. It was nighttime when they drunkenly strolled along the streets of Paris, the ridiculous hat Aziraphale was wearing after switching clothes with the executioner going lopsided and almost sliding down near his eye. His face was pink and he was loose and happy, the usual stiffness to his spine gone. Crowley felt good, too, and leaned against his front door lazily once they got to the place he was temporarily living in. He didn’t eat too often, but a belly full of crepes and wine put him in a pleasant mood. 

Of course, Aziraphale was happy as a clam, and he swayed forward a little. “I know I said it be-” hiccup, “before, but thanks again for the thing. The, um, the rescue.”

“Shusssshhhh,” Crowley drawled. “Don’t let people hear.”

“No one’s around,” he said, and it was true. They didn’t know what time it was, but the street was deserted. “You saved me a lot of paperwork.”

“Paperwork’s dull,” he slurred. He hated it, and he knew discorporation paperwork was as dull as it got, so there was no way he could have let Aziraphale get his pretty little head chopped off. Ergh. Even with all the alcohol in his system and his being a demon, the thought unnerved him. “Glad you’ve still got your head,” he said.

Aziraphale giggled, high-pitched, his eyes crinkling.

Cute bastard , Crowley thought, torn between bitterness and fondness. He was so used to those conflicting emotions by now. They were always present when he was with Aziraphale. He squinted at him from behind his glasses. Why he, the Suave Tempter, was madly in love with this bloody ridiculous, fussy, more than occasionally bitchy beacon of celestial sunshine, he’d never know, but he reluctantly accepted it long ago. It was still torture to hold it all back, though, but demons were used to torture, too.

The aforementioned beacon of celestial sunshine was swaying more towards him. “Yes, I am, too,” he said, his giggles dying down and his gaze lowering. “All thanks to you.”

“Stop saying ‘thanks’ in sentences about me,” he muttered.

Aziraphale was slumping forward even more. “But I want to.”

Crowley reached up and grabbed his shoulders to keep him from falling, and it was the most they had ever touched and his palms burned where they held him. He wasn’t sober enough to let go yet. He held back the urge to pull him close and hug him, because demons definitely didn’t hug, and demon hugs definitely wouldn’t be accepted by angels. “You’re so drunk,” he pointed out the obvious.

“Perhaps,” he lifted his head, and then smirked. “Your hair is terrible in this era.”

Crowley’s jaw dropped, affronted. “It’s the style!”

“It’s okay,” he lowered his voice, in tone and volume. “You’re still handsome.”

Before his cheeks could even consider blushing from that, he was being kissed by a sloshed, giggling angel. Crowley let out a startled gasp, his hands tightening on his shoulders. His eyelids fluttered shut, and he was being pushed against the door, which was okay because his knees were too weak to support him anyway. He actually felt like he was turning into a puddle and melting onto the ground. Aziraphale always managed to surprise him, but this was a whole new level. He couldn’t possibly tear himself away, though, and he kissed back sloppily, clumsily, as best he knew how. Aziraphale tasted sweet. Crowley’s heart pounded, reeling but too drunk to really reflect on any of this. Besides, Aziraphale’s soft, eager, wine-sweet mouth was distracting. His kisses were soft but insistent, softer than anyone had ever touched Crowley before. 

When they parted, Aziraphale’s eyes were hungry, but there was shock in them, too. He licked his lips. “Oh, Crowley.” He blinked back moisture from his eyes

Why was he tearing up? Crowley had to remember how to speak. Mentally form words, move the tongue and lips and glottis to make the sounds. Right. “Whuz?” Okay, that was incomprehensible. Try again. “What’s gotten into you?”

Aziraphale licked his lips again, nervously. “It’d been awhile since we’d had dinner. I missed you.”

Crowley most certainly did not whimper. Nope. That would have been seriously not cool. His heart did not thump at the thought of his beloved missing him, either. Nah.

Aziraphale pecked him on the lips. One peck turned into two, and then he was kissing Crowley deeply. His tongue swept over his bottom lip, and he, the puddle of goo, quivered. How did an angel learn to kiss like this? No, never mind. He burned with jealousy at the thought. Aziraphale licked into his mouth, meeting his tongue. Crowley’s eyes shot open before they rolled back into his head, a flicker of heat igniting within. As much as Crowley wanted to let his guard down completely and let Aziraphale kiss him everywhere until the sun rose, there was a jab to his heart as he wondered if Aziraphale would do this while sober. Crowley belonged to him, but he wasn’t a masochist. He needed to stop them now before the inevitable crushing disappointment became too great.

“Ah,” he mumbled against his lips, “Aziraphale.”

“Hm?”

“You don’t want this,” he said, the words difficult but necessary. Better to cut everything off now and not when they woke up naked in bed together, and all these mushy faces Aziraphale were giving him turned into horrified disgust.

His eyebrows knitted together in confusion. “What?”

He had to look down at his shirt, because looking at those earnest, gentle eyes hurt too much. “Sober up. You’re making a mistake.”

“But—“

“Sober up. I will, too. We’re getting ahead of ourselves.”

A flicker of realization in his gaze, he nodded and obeyed. Crowley sobered up, too, and now he felt pretty damn uncomfortable. Here it comes: rejection.

Aziraphale stood up straight, and Crowley’s legs went back to being able to support his weight, so he stopped being a puddle of goo against the door. He was glad his glasses were still on. The weight of what they did crashed upon him, and his shoulders sagged.

Aziraphale’s expression was considerably more closed off than it was a minute ago. “May I come inside?” he asked. “I don’t believe it’s wise if we remain together in public for much longer.”

Crowley didn’t know where he was going with this, but agreed and let him in because he didn’t have anything to lose. There wasn’t much furniture, but there was a fireplace, and with a snap of his fingers, there were two chairs in front of a small flame. The scene was too cozy for his tastes, but he figured it would put Aziraphale at ease.

“Thank you,” he gave him a tight-lipped smile and sat down. He put his face in his hands and sighed deeply. “Oh dear, oh dear,” he mumbled into his palms.

Crowley didn’t like that reaction, but understood. He sat down across from him in silence. The only good thing was that Aziraphale wasn’t running away. He thought that would have been his first sober reaction to kissing a demon. But maybe they could play it off. Act like it never happened. It would hurt like a motherfucker, but they could still be friends that way.

“Look.” His voice was thick so he cleared his throat. “We were drunk. You didn’t know what you were doing. I get it. No big deal. Just a cock up. I don’t hold it against you. We can. Go off and when we bump into each other in a few decades, it’ll be nothing.”

Aziraphale looked up at him slowly, the orange glow from the fire dancing in his gaze. He looked irritated and lost and apprehensive all at the same time. “Crowley,” he spoke quietly, “that wasn’t nothing. I wasn’t that drunk. I knew exactly what I was doing.”

Crowley wasn’t sure if the heat he felt was from the fire or a blush. “You...you did?” It couldn’t be. “But I’m a demon.”

“I know,” he said, and he bit his lip and looked at him shyly.

Why do you have to be cute now? he mentally rolled his eyes.

Aziraphale pressed his lips together. He looked scared , and he was never scared of Crowley before, not even in the beginning. 

Crowley hated that look. “What’s wrong?” he asked, leaning forward in his chair.

Aziraphale sighed harshly. “It was impulsive when I kissed you, but I couldn’t stop after I felt.” He gulped. “I-I felt...I simply can’t forget about it. I could have tried if—if I wasn’t made to detect these things, you know.”

“No, I don’t know,” he said honestly, his nerves frayed. “I can’t follow a word you’re saying.”

Aziraphale’s breath was unsteady and his hands were balled into fists. “I could perfectly ignore what I feel, but not you.”

The blush drained from Crowley’s face. This was more exposing than when he was being snogged a few minutes ago. His stomach felt jumpy. “What the blasted Hell are you talking about?”

Aziraphale held his breath, visible by the stillness in his chest and shoulders. “Do you fill everyone you kiss with a loving aura, or is it just me?”

Crowley never did react well to anyone seeing right through him, but having the love of his life know he was the love of his life? Nope. Couldn’t handle that. It was dangerously close to being scary, and he wasn’t meant to be scared of anything. After sitting still for an agonizing moment, he was up and hauling Aziraphale to his feet, grabbing him by the stupid jacket and snarling into his face, not grabbing him enough to hurt (never), but enough to remind him, with a spat, that, “I’m a creature of Hell . I lost all things good long ago and I cannot love, especially not a holy being like you! I can roar hellfire into your face and murder you any time I like. How dare you insult me by implying something so fucking ridiculous.” By the end, his voice was a throaty growl and his fangs were bared. Okay, no, he would never kill Aziraphale, but Crowley was a sinful serpent and needed to be taken seriously. He had his dignity.

Aziraphale had the audacity to frown pitifully at him. “I know exactly what I feel. You can’t lie to me about this.”

“I’m not lying,” he lied with a growl.

“Would this help?” He put his hand on his own chest, and a white and yellow glow formed. The light clung to his fingers and he put his hand on Crowley’s chest.

Crowley, to an observer, dropped his hands to his sides, sucked in a sharp breath, staggered backwards into the chair, and sank into it as he gasped for air, clutching the arms of the chair. To him, he more or less mentally blacked out because an indescribable ball of insistent heat swirled in the large gap in his soul She left behind. Somewhere, deep in his hard-wiring from his days as an angel, he knew exactly what that terrifying feeling was, and he needed it. It was gone for so long, and now it was back, but this time it felt...unconditional. It wasn’t holy, though. It was too personal to be holy. The sensation was not for all of Her creatures, but him and only him.

“Oh God,” he whispered, too dazed to notice the slip. The indignant humiliation was gone. He couldn’t possibly have any doubts. He looked up at Aziraphale, glasses fogging up from the wetness around his eyes. “Oh, oh fuck.” 

Aziraphale knelt in front of him, “I know,” he whispered, eyes glistening. “I know. It’s all right.”

Except it wasn’t, because the tears were now dripping down his cheeks. He sniffed, his whole body trembling. “Look what you’ve done to me,” he accused in a pathetic imitation of the growl he had going earlier.

Aziraphale was contrite. “I never meant to, my dear.”

Crowley couldn’t hold back a snort. An angel never meant to be lovable? That was a lie.

“We cannot spend a lot of time together,” Aziraphale said slowly. “It’s too dangerous. We’re lucky we didn’t get caught. Sorry for my foolishness outside.”

He shook his head mutely.

He ran a slow hand up and down his thigh soothingly. “But I can’t go on like nothing happened knowing how you feel.”

Crowley tried to get his muscles to stop shaking, but being filled with angelic love was beyond overwhelming and he was, frankly, surprised it didn’t kill him. He should have told him that he was perfectly capable of going on and ignoring his feelings as he had done so for millennia, but his mind was stuck, looping: He loves me he loves me he loves me. After that bloody ball of angel love radiated throughout him, he wasn’t even sure if he could ignore this anymore. It was much easier to do when he believed it was one-sided, and he realized that was exactly what Aziraphale was saying. It was taking him awhile to catch up.

“So,” Aziraphale went on, “we could add onto our Arrangement.”

Crowley remembered the steps of speech production again. “How?”

Aziraphale’s thumb was rubbing a circle into his knee. “We meet as we usually do. Lend a hand when needed, stay out of each other’s work, all that. But when we do meet, more of this.” He grasped Crowley’s collar and pulled him into a chaste kiss.

Oh, God, I love you, Crowley thought. No! Satan, I love you. Ugh. He stared down into Aziraphale’s uncertain face. He wanted to ask for more, but knew realistically that it would take a lot for them to get away with just this. He was greedy, but he wasn’t stupid. “So carry on but kiss every now and then?”

“Do you have a better idea?”

“No,” he said. “But I didn’t think I’d ever have this with you, so. I’ll take it.” Why had his mouth kept moving?

Aziraphale’s lips turned up into a tiny grin. “Trust me, Crowley, I’m just as shocked as you. I couldn’t believe what I felt when we kissed outside.” He grew shy again. “May I ask...well, your lot isn’t supposed to feel this. What made you de-develop this for me, of all people?”

Crowley thought about it seriously, wondering where to begin. “Uh, how long do we got?”

Aziraphale positively beamed. “Oh, Crowley,” he said, awed.

His face was on fire. “It’s a genuine question! I didn’t mean it in a nice way!” His hand was sweating in between Aziraphale’s (he noted, idly, how soft his palms were).

His smile was sweet as the sugar he tasted of. “This side of you is the most pleasant surprise I’ve ever encountered.”

Crowley couldn’t get up without toppling Aziraphale to the floor, so he was trapped. “Mmm, guh.”

Aziraphale brushed a kiss against his knuckles. “Let me kiss you again, please.”


So they did as they said they would. Crowley and Aziraphale did not live together, for they agreed that would be too obvious and risky, but they visited each other with relative frequency for seven years. They were always cautious, always looking over their shoulders, never doing anything more than kissing. Stealing enough time to capture Aziraphale in a searing kiss was hard enough. Sex would be asking for trouble. Besides, he had no idea if Aziraphale even did that. They never brought it up, and Crowley’s lack of experience made him hesitate to ask. Really, they were better off without it, no matter what his dreams (which left him sticky and longing) told him. Yeah, it wasn’t easy pulling away from Aziraphale’s deliciously plush lips when he felt himself start to grow hard, but that was what his hand was for at home. 

Being pulled aside and snogged until his toes curled was enough, and a surprise every time. He kept fearing Aziraphale would change his mind, but he hadn’t, and despite the anxiety over being caught, he had never been this happy before. Hell got suspicious at how often he would smile and whistle while he walked.

“Oh, just, you know, enjoying all the sin I’m causing,” he said as an excuse.

The best/worst thing about this was that he was falling more for Aziraphale. It wasn’t fair. He didn’t even think that was possible! But kissing the bastard made him melt every time. When they would part and Aziraphale would look up at him with all the trust in the world with pink cheeks and ruffled curls...Aw, Hell, he didn’t stand a chance. 

On one occasion, Aziraphale broke the kiss with a wet smack , breathing heavily. He cupped Crowley’s jaw and kissed his bottom lip. “What a tender kisser you are,” he said.

Crowley glared at him, glasses gone.

Aziraphale was staring at him. “And what captivating eyes you’ve got.”

And Crowley had to kiss him to shut him up, then, because words were wholly inadequate. He still couldn’t really believe this was happening and was too apprehensive to voice how much he loved Aziraphale. A part of him wanted to whisper how important he was and all that rubbish into his ear, but thousands of years of shutting his emotions down needed more time to break than 7 years. Out of curiosity, one day, while tipsy, he asked, “How come you never felt my, my thingy before? Aura or whatever? Why not before 1793?”

“Dunno,” Aziraphale said, “perhaps ‘cause you’re Fallen, so you don’t emit it a lot. I only feel it when you kiss me.”

Crowley kissed him.

Aziraphale, even though he said something nice here and there, didn’t say everything aloud, either. They never uttered those three words, but they knew; they felt the proof in their souls.

Crowley still imagined what it would be like to hear those words in his voice, though.

It was all a bit mad, really. They spent most of their lives on earth as they always had, but now with kissing. To think such a simple addition to the Arrangement would change so much, and not much at all.

Then came 1800.

Aziraphale loved books ever since humanity started writing them. He blabbed on about “a wonderful story” called The Tale of Genji when they bumped into each other in Japan nearly 800 years ago, and Crowley didn’t get his infatuation with literature, but it made him happy, so that was what mattered. Crowley didn’t dislike books, and actually read some when no one was looking, but would never dream of opening a bookshop. Once again, it made Aziraphale happy, and that was what mattered. His joy was palpable as he prepared, and Crowley only listened to him talk and watched him wave his hands excitedly with a fond smile, yet again wondering how he could fall deeper in love.

It was a few days before the official grand opening, but Aziraphale had the keys to the building and the shop was his, and what kind of lover (partner? Boyfriend? Eurgh, he didn’t know) would Crowley be if he didn’t bring flowers and chocolates? Maybe it was bolder than he normally allowed himself to be (excluding when his tongue was in Aziraphale’s mouth), but he knew he would like the chocolates, at least, and looked forward to the inevitable little moan of pleasure he would emit when biting into a chocolate truffle. Crowley was selfish, too, because he wanted to hear those sounds for his own benefit, but he kept that bit to himself.

But he was stupid. He felt way more angelic energy than usual, but chalked it up to Aziraphale being happier than usual. He should have been on his guard. Instead, he walked to the new shop with a pep in his step, whistling with the bouquet in one hand and the box of chocolates in the other.

Crowley stopped dead in his tracks in the doorway. He recognized Gabriel instantly even with his back turned. He remembered Heaven, and while there were millions of angels and he was sure he never met Aziraphale until Eden, all of them had known who the archangels were. He didn’t know who the other one was, though, but definitely another angel. Before he could move his feet to back up, Aziraphale’s eyes met his, and panic snapped onto his face.

No! he wanted to yell. Don’t let them see your reaction!

But Gabriel and the other angel turned around, and Crowley didn’t know what to do.

Gabriel’s violet eyes widened, almost comically shocked, and then he smiled tightly. “Now, what’s this?”

Crowley’s throat was dry, the flowers and chocolates suddenly heavy in his hands. “Um.” Grateful that the glasses hid his gaze, he looked to Aziraphale.

Aziraphale almost looked ill with panic.

Right. He’d have to save them both. It wouldn’t be the first time. First time from an archangel, but God loved to toy with him, didn’t She? He had to put his theological angst aside, because above all costs, Gabriel could not find out that Crowley was in a semi-relationship with his agent on earth; he would absolutely harm Aziraphale, and there was no way he would let that happen.

“You’re the demon...Crawley?” Gabriel pointed a finger at him, tight smile plastered on his face.

“Cr o wley,” he corrected.

“Whatever,” Gabriel dismissed. He looked over his shoulder. “What is the meaning of this?” he asked Aziraphale.

“I-I have no idea,” he stammered. He swallowed and glared at Crowley. “Why are you here, foul fiend from the pits of Hell?”

He held back a smirk. Good, angel, play it up.

“Yes,” the other angel looked him up and down with disgust, “and with gross matter?” he squinted at the gifts in his hands.

Crowley normally wouldn’t have tolerated an angel looking at him like that, but doing anything rash would have put Aziraphale in danger, and he never exactly faced an archangel, so. Anyway. He had to think. “Why...it’s poison,” he lied. He decided to play up the dramatics of the era. “I was going to try to discorporate my adversary, but oh, I’ve been thwarted by the mighty Archangel Gabriel.”

Aziraphale didn’t look convinced at all by his performance, but the others did.

The other angel was still staring at him. “Why did you bring flowers with the food?” he asked.

Fuck. “Er—humans do it all the time. Needed to keep up appearances so he’d take the food. I was, um, I was going to leave it in the shop and disappear and wait for him to eat this,” he jostled the box.

“What a stupid idea,” Aziraphale said.

But Gabriel turned to Aziraphale with one raised eyebrow. “You would eat something brought by a demon?” he asked skeptically.

“No,” Aziraphale and Crowley answered.

Gabriel and the other were confused.

“I mean,” Crowley struggled to recover, “he always resists my temptations, but I try nonetheless. It’s my job. I hope to get him one day,” he made a fist around the flowers and raised it to the sky dramatically.

“Oh, but you won’t,” Aziraphale said, “for I’m impenetrable to your wily ways.”

Crowley’s fucked up mind immediately jumped to a sex joke and wondered if Aziraphale was truly inpenetrable to his ways, but damn it, now was not the time! “Curses,” Crowley leaned against the doorframe, hoping he looked dejected. “You’re such a, a pinnable of holiness,” he spat. “You always thwart my wiles so...thwartingly.”

“I’ve had 6,000 years of practice,” Aziraphale said primly, hands folded behind his back.

“Well,” Gabriel clapped his hands together, “perhaps there needs to be a change of plans. If you know his tactics well enough to resist them for 6,000 years, then you should stay here. A replacement might be tricked by him.”

“Replacement?” Crowley asked, instantly straightening up. No, they couldn’t take him away. But, Gabriel seemed to be changing his mind.

“See!” Aziraphale’s eyes widened and he nodded enthusiastically. “That is exactly what I was trying to tell you and Sandalphon.”

Ah, that was his name. He was another archangel, wasn’t he? Of bloody course. He had been less famous in Heaven when Crowley was there, so it didn’t click at first. He was even more annoying than Crowley had remembered. He was tempted to comment on his now balding appearance to piss him off, but pissing off an archangel was a bad idea. He still got an eerie vibe from Sandalphon that made his skin crawl. He was unnerved.

“I’m sure he intended to spread evil while I obtained a new body in Heaven.” Aziraphale looked at Crowley. “Isn’t that right, wicked one?”

“You blasted angel,” he bemoaned, “I can’t outsmart you! I wish Heaven would replace you!” he added for good measure, getting the point across to the two wankers in the suits. He kind of enjoyed playing this little game, but this was, indeed, serious, so it was better to get out of there while things were going in their favor. “I’ll get you next time, though,” he vowed and turned on his heel and stomped away, out of the shop. His heart was beating hard until he was a block away, and he paused to lean against a wall to sigh. That was close. He was lucky every angel but Aziraphale was thick. He dropped the flowers and chocolates on the ground, feeling stupid. They had gotten too casual. They would need to be even more careful. They—

He was being watched. He could feel it. It was angelic energy, but not warm enough to be from Aziraphale. Crowley started walking again, eyes straight ahead. He felt the energy get closer. He would have to fight. Even though he was a demon, he rarely resorted to physical violence, but fighting angels was practically in his blood. Even so, anxiety raised the hair on the back of his neck. As much as he hated to admit it, Gabriel was powerful. He hadn’t even fought in Heaven. He was thrown into Hell without lifting a finger. Before he knew it, he was grabbed and dragged into an alley. He hissed, bared his fangs and whipped around to bite a hand on his shoulder.

Gabriel yelped in pain and withdrew his hand, but Sandalphon smashed him against the wall, his head cracking hard on the bricks.

“Not so fast, you disgusting beast,” Sandalphon said in that swarmy, annoying voice of his.

Crowley hissed loudly again, the back of his head throbbing.

Gabriel had healed his own wound and was glaring at him. “Aziraphale may be able to handle you, but did you think we would let you get away after trying to hurt one of our own?”

One of yours? He’s mine. “You don’t have holy water,” he said confidently, but in reality didn’t know that for sure.

“No,” Sandalphon confirmed, “but we can still hurt you.” In a flash, he pulled out a dagger and plunged it into Crowley’s chest.

He cried out in pain and shock, the short but sharp blade slicing into his skin and burning worse than anything he ever felt. As soon as Sandalphon violently pulled out the knife and let go of him, he collapsed onto the ground, hat and glasses knocked off. He curled up in a ball and clutched his chest, the stab wound a couple inches above his navel. It was shallow, but the burn was celestial. He coughed violently, spitting blood onto the ground.

“A dagger made from divine power,” Sandalphon’s voice came from above him. “That should discorporate you.”

“A little tit for tat,” said Gabriel’s smug voice, “for trying to discorporate Aziraphale.”

Crowley yelped when there was a sharp kick to his ribs. He didn’t know who did it because his eyes were squeezed shut, tears of pain running out of them, and fuck, this was awful. He was never discorporated before and it was the fucking worst. He never felt so terrifyingly weak before. It was a good thing he never liked killing humans, because he felt sorry for them now. Dying sucked. He tried to sit up but fell down immediately, cheek crashing into the ground and cutting on a rock. He was so lightheaded that he needed to shut his eyes again. The ground was spinning. If he weren’t dying, he would probably get sick. The stinging burn from the celestial blade seared his insides, and Crowley wished this would end so he could just go to Hell and stop being in pain already. His hands were soaked with blood and the noise of the street a few feet away was getting fuzzy as ringing filled his ears, and he was fading, cold, pathetic, and crumpled in an alley. How human. 

But then a distressed, familiar voice was above him, and hands rolled him over onto his back. He groaned in pain, instinctively clutching himself more, but gentle hands removed his. He only registered vague sounds and movements around and on his body. He couldn’t make out what was happening. The burning was so intense, worse than hellfire, because his body loved hellfire. Lips brushed his ear. “It will hurt more at first,” the voice whispered. “But it will be better after, I promise.”

Even on the brink of discorporation, he knew that voice. He couldn’t move his lips to say his name, but the pain wasn’t as bad because Aziraphale was there.

Until he used his angelic healing power.

Crowley shouted because fuck that stung like a bitch, but when the pain stopped, it all stopped. His eyes shot open, and he realized he was on his own bed, not on the ground, and Aziraphale was kneeling above him, absolutely anguished.

But the pain was gone , and he looked down at his bare chest. There was no wound. He had been so out of it that he didn’t realize Aziraphale brought them here, or that he took off his clothes until he was just in his trousers. Damn. “I was close to dying, huh?” he asked roughly. He was more fascinated by the idea than anything because he felt good as new now. He sighed in relief. He was glad he didn’t have to go through the hassle of getting a new body. “Huh. What a weird day.” Then he looked up and crumpled. “Oh, angel.”

Tears were threatening to spill over Aziraphale’s eyes.

“No, no,” Crowley sat up and brought him into his arms. “You’re not allowed to cry. I’m all right,” he murmured, an arm around his shoulders and hand in his hair. “I’m all right thanks to you. How’d you find me?”

Aziraphale trembled in his arms.

Crowley held him tighter, heart tearing. He had never seen him like this. It was almost as bad as getting stabbed. “Talk to me.”

“I immediately sensed your injury,” Aziraphale said wetly. “After you left, Gabriel and Sandalphon told me they would go after you. I tried to protest, but they were already gone, and, and, I felt your pain, Crowley,” his voice broke.

Crowley held him close, kissing the side of his head. “It did hurt, yeah, kind of shockingly badly. It was a bloody divine dagger or whatever. I should’ve tried to fight—”

“You couldn’t have,” Aziraphale cut him off. “It was two against one. It’s my fault.”

“No,” Crowley said instantly. “No, I shouldn’t have strolled into your shop. Don’t blame yourself. You just saved me. Your healing power hurt at first, but it worked.”

Aziraphale pulled back, his frightened eyes roaming over Crowley’s face. He grew more distressed by the moment.

Crowley didn’t like that look. “You’re staying on earth?”

He nodded.

“Well, good. Why were they taking you?”

“I was being promoted,” he said bitterly. “They couldn’t fathom why I’d want to stay here. If you hadn’t come in, then I would probably be in Heaven by now.”

“Then it was worth it,” Crowley said, and he meant it. If Aziraphale had been recalled to Heaven, they would never see each other again. The thought was unbearable.

“No, it wasn’t!” Aziraphale disentangled himself from Crowley’s arms. “Crowley, you’re lucky Gabriel didn’t have holy water on him. They did that to you because they thought you were doing your job, messing with me.”

“Yeah, and?”

Aziraphale grew frustrated, his frightened eyes narrowing. “And if they knew the truth, they would most assuredly kill you.”

“I know that,” he said, and only had patience because of how shaken Aziraphale was. “That’s no surprise.”

Aziraphale lowered his gaze and got off the bed, standing up. He had blood on his hands and waistcoat. He looked down at his hands. He grew pale.

Crowley miracled the blood away.

Aziraphale lowered his clean hands slowly. His expression hardened. “If we keep this up, they’ll catch us.”

“I just got careless,” he swung his legs over the side of the bed. “It won’t happen again. Trust me, that blade was a wake-up call.”

That did the opposite of easing his fears. Aziraphale’s posture straightened. “We can’t do this anymore.”

Crowley’s heart dropped into his stomach. “No.”

His face was closing off rapidly. “My mind is made up.”

“Just like that?” he shot up from the bed. “I saved your arse from discorporation plenty of times!”

“I was never fatally wounded any of those times,” he said evenly, “and none of those times ever had to do with our relationship.” There was no sign of him being conflicted. This was easy for him.

Crowley had to talk him out of this. When they first kissed, he was willing to pretend it never happened, but only because he thought Aziraphale didn’t feel the same way. How could he do that now, after he felt his love fill his veins and soul with golden light? After seven years of soft palms cupping his face and kissing him until he was breathless? “You’re overreacting.”

“I will not have you destroyed,” he said sternly, “especially not for any reason having to do with me.”

“This isn’t just about you,” Crowley jabbed a finger at his chest. “Don’t I have a say?” He wouldn’t let Aziraphale ruin what they had so easily. Did seven years mean nothing to him? Seven years were like the blink of an eye to immortals, but they were the best of Crowley’s life, damn it. He couldn’t go back to the way things were before. He couldn’t just forget how Aziraphale’s lips felt against his. 

“Would you really force me to be with you?” Aziraphale asked coldly, and Satan, he had the capacity to be a manipulative bastard.

They both knew the answer, so Crowley didn’t respond to that. “What the Heaven happened to all that about you not being able to ignore this,” he waved his hands between them, “because you know how I feel? Exactly how I feel?”

“What good is how you feel if you cease to exist?” Aziraphale asked, raising his voice.

A dark cloud was in Crowley’s chest. He was losing this argument. He just got stabbed in his attempts to save them and keep Aziraphale on earth, and yet he was losing the greatest thing that ever happened to him. It was like someone pulled the rug out from under him. “But. I don’t want it to end,” he said in a small voice.

The steel in Aziraphale’s eyes lessened slightly. “I’m doing what’s best for you.”

“No, you’re not,” he snapped. “Let me decide.”

“No,” he shook his head, the steel back in full force. 

The dark cloud constricted his lungs. Crowley wanted to scream. He wanted to shake Aziraphale and tell him how he was never this happy before, and he would never be again. “You’re really breaking up with me,” he realized.

Aziraphale folded his hands behind his back. The light that normally filled his face was absent. “Yes.”

Crowley clenched his jaw. He was so upset his skin was breaking out in goosebumps. “You’re okay with this,” he accused lowly.

“If it means saving your life, then yes, I am.”

“What a holy little martyr,” Crowley stepped forward into his personal space. Anger brewed in the pit of his stomach. “Think you’re doing a real noble thing, don’t you?”

Aziraphale was unfazed, staring intently into his eyes. “If you saw me dying, you would do the same.”

“I wasn’t even dying!” he threw his hands in the air.

“You know what I mean. Sometimes, we have to put our personal desires aside for the greater good,” he said evenly.

And what a fucking typical angelic line that was. Crowley had zero tolerance for it. “You bastard,” he spat through a hiss.

Aziraphale merely blinked up at him.

Crowley turned away, pinching the bridge of his nose. This was part of why he resisted so long; he knew Aziraphale, and only Aziraphale, had the power to break his heart. Why could he love in the first place? It would have been easier if he had been like every other demon. Why did he have to be defective? With his eyes and torso bare, he hated how vulnerable he felt. He snapped his fingers and was fully dressed again, glasses included. 

Aziraphale rubbed his eyes. “I don’t take pleasure in this,” he said quietly.

“Like Hell you don’t,” he muttered.

Aziraphale glared at him. “Do you think I didn’t enjoy those seven years, too? Do you think so little of me?”

Seven years. It felt like a lifetime and only seven seconds at the same time. He wanted so much more. He didn’t appreciate what he had enough. If only he knew. If only he didn’t walk in with the blasted flowers and chocolates. He didn’t even savor their last kiss. Crowley wasn’t particularly cruel by demonic standards, but it felt like he was bleeding from his chest all over again. “If you feel bad, then do something about it. Kiss me one more time.”

Aziraphale winced. “Crowley…”

Crowley stood over him, feeling more confident with his eyes hidden. “Gabriel and Sandalphon are gone for today,” he said, voice like acid from his resentment and the effort not to say “Change your mind, please, you know how much I love you and you’re awful .” He licked his lips. “Once more.” In his mind, he was tempting, but in reality, he was begging to be kissed, and he would only realize that with humiliation a few weeks later. “And then we won’t ever again. The Arrangement will go back to the way it was.” He anticipated one of two things: Aziraphale would deny him, or the kiss would be reluctant and unsatisfying. Instead, Aziraphale grasped his chin, and brought their lips together with the barest featherlight touch. Crowley shivered involuntarily, and it was over after three heartbeats.

Aziraphale took a step back. He allowed his closed off expression to morph into misery. The lines in his face were deep. He looked old. “I’m trespassing in your home,” he said. “I’ll go now.”

“Wait!”

He was gone with a pop.

Crowley traced his lips with his fingertips. It was over. In the span of an afternoon, it was over. That wanker . “Fine!” he yelled at the air. “I don’t need you! You were too mushy and lovey, anyway! I’m a demon!” he threw off his glasses. “I don’t need anyone! See if I ever save your arse again!” He paused. “Okay, you just saved mine so I’d return the favor, but that’d be it! Never again after one more time!” The air was quiet. He was yelling in an empty room. He was pathetic. He sank down on the mattress, groaning loudly at the ceiling. The stabbing pain in his chest rivaled the real thing. It was sinking in. He would really never kiss him again. They would never spend hushed, secret afternoons together again. Aziraphale would never look at him like he was actually worth something again.

“I don’t need him,” he said to no one, voice cracking.

Chapter Text

The worst part was that, after some time passed and he stopped wanting to scream at the walls, Crowley knew Aziraphale was right. They had both known they would be killed if their relationship was discovered, and it was foolish of them to pretend they could get away with it forever. It was always going to end at one point or another. They had gotten cocky. Or caught up in love. Ugh, gross. Anyway, that was what he got for being an optimist. The universe (or, more accurately, God) always disappointed him, but he never developed the cynicism of his peers. He didn’t know why. He couldn’t even tell anyone about the cause of his depression, because even aside from the threat of death, he would be the laughingstock of Hell for doing something like falling in love, and with an angel no less. He was a failure. Too questioning to be an angel, too soppy to be a good demon, too hellish to fit in with humans. 

The more he thought about it, and the quick and efficient way Gabriel and Sandalphon hunted him down and nearly discorporated him, he knew Hell could and would do the same if they knew of the Arrangement itself. They would probably—definitely—do worse. They would torture him for eons. They would rip every feather off his wings while dabbing his skin with holy water, if they get their hands on it. His death by the hands of Hell would be slow and incomprehensibly agonizing. He needed insurance. If they came for him and there was no way out, he wanted to end it on his own terms and quickly. If he managed to fight back, then maybe he could kill a demon or two and escape.

Either way, he needed holy water. And he only knew one angel in the universe who would give it to him.

They hadn’t spoken since 1800. Crowley kept his distance and Aziraphale didn’t seek him out. Crowley wrote him a note, tone casual as possible and not at all mentioning their breakup. He said it was about work and to meet him in the park.

It, of course, went disastrously.

“Why are you insistent on causing trouble?” Aziraphale bristled. 

“Demon, remember?”

“I’m not giving you a suicide pill,” he shoved the piece of paper back into his hand. “Have you lost your mind?”

“That’s not what I want it for!” he snapped, giving him the paper again. “It’s just insurance!”

“I’m not an idiot, Crowley,” he insisted with a pout.

Crowley almost protested that point.

“Did you just so happen to forget 1800?” Aziraphale asked in a harsh whisper.

A punch to the chest. “Of course I didn’t!” he said before having the chance to think better of it. “That’s the point! I need this.”

“No!” Aziraphale threw the paper in the pond. “I shall do no such thing. Don’t even bring it up again, do you hear?”

“Why are you so bloody difficult?” Crowley asked, noticing people start to stare out of the corner of his eye. “You’re causing a scene.”

Aziraphale didn’t care. “I will not be an accomplice to your destruction, self-inflicted or otherwise!”

“Then you’ll give me a way out!” he said through clenched teeth, grip tightening on his cane. “If they come after me, I can fight back.”

“Or they’ll pour it all over you. I’m not doing it. Plus, have you considered I’d be in deep trouble if Heaven knew I was fraternizing with you?”

Crowley could have dropped his cane in shock. “‘Fraternizing’?!” Really? Really?! “That’s all this is to you?”

Aziraphale puffed his chest out like a ruffled bird. “Don’t,” he said, voice clipped. “Just don’t, Crowley.” He stormed off.

Crowley was left standing there, fuming. “I don’t need you!” he called after him.

Aziraphale didn’t even look back.

Fuck this. Crowley’s head hurt. He didn’t want to think about any of this. He needed a nap. A nice long nap. A traitorous part of his brain reminded him of the one time he got drunk and fell asleep on Aziraphale’s shoulder, and he was woken up by a gentle shake and a soft voice rumbling, “Sorry, dearest, but it’s time to get up. I have to go. I’ve been here long enough.”

He resisted the urge to drown the ducks in the pond. He spun on his heel and stalked home. He was going to sleep. How long? Who knows. Who cares? It wasn’t like anyone would miss him, anyway.


Napping for almost 80 years did Crowley good. When he woke up, he remembered what had happened, but didn’t feel quite as badly. He spent thousands of years without being in a quasi-relationship with Aziraphale, and he could spend thousands more like that. Yeah. He could move on, as long as he didn't see him. It would be whatever. The new pep in his step was diminished pretty much immediately, though, when he found out what the humans were up to this time. This was just absurdly evil. Hell was rejoicing, and that left him feeling crummy. It was stupid, because it was fucking Hell. Of course they would rejoice over a (second!) World War. He didn’t expect any different, but he didn’t feel less badly over humans, yet again, proving they could condemn their souls to Hell all on their own through barbarism. Giving people a little push in the wrong direction and letting them decide where to go from there was fun; nothing was fun about genocide. He had to distract himself, and his brand new car did the trick for a short time. Finding out about that lovely new human invention put a smile on his face, despite it all, so he rode around, changed his outfit and hair to match the times, and made do. He used to go centuries without seeing Aziraphale, so this was nothing.

It was nothing.

And then the idiot had to get in trouble with the Nazis.

“Why?” Crowley groaned as he drove towards the church. The question was twofold: why was Aziraphale such an idiot, despite being the cleverest person (supernatural being) he knew, and why was he doing this? “I should just let him fend for himself,” he said as he drove faster. “He’s not a child. He’s older than time.” But, Crowley remembered what it was like to almost be discorporated. It really did hurt like nothing he ever felt before aside from Falling, and the thought of Aziraphale crying out in pain and feeling even a smidgeon of what he felt made him fully slam his foot on the gas. It would probably be a gun. They were probably going to shoot Aziraphale in the face. Crowley gripped the steering wheel tightly and growled. He may have been an idiot, but there was no way Crowley was going to let some half-witted Nazis blow up his pretty little head.

Everything went well, thank someone, and they were left standing on the rubble of the church. Crowley grabbed the bag of books, because he knew Aziraphale would throw a fit if they had been destroyed, and handed it over.

Aziraphale’s eyes widened and his features smoothed out.

Crowley walked to the car, feeling Aziraphale’s stare. The ride to the bookshop was quiet. It was clear they had no idea what to say to each other after all this time, after how they left off. It was easy to interact when they had a threat to deal with, but they were alone with their emotions, their past. That was never a good thing.

They were close to the shop when Aziraphale said, difficult to hear above the engine of the car and sirens going off in the distance, “It’s good to see you again.”

Crowley grunted. He wasn’t sure if he agreed. He had a lot of mixed feelings, but he was being kind of immature, wasn’t he? He was allowed to be snarky, as a demon, but immaturity was unbecoming of his image. “Yeah. Just stay out of trouble.”

“I’ll try. I would tell you the same, but.”

“Don’t try jokes, angel.”

“Sorry.”

It was uncomfortable. They were never this tense before, not like this. In the beginning, it all came down to their being unsure of the other. They knew they wouldn’t kill each other now, but Crowley preferred that early wariness to this.

The car stopped. Aziraphale smiled lightly. “Thank you for the books.”

Crowley grunted again.

He got out and went into his shop.

Crowley was simultaneously glad he was gone and missing him.


The next time they met, it was in his car again.

“Is this the real thing?” he stared down at the thermos in his hands.

“The holiest,” he confirmed.

It was weird, holding the thing that could eliminate him from the universe. It made him acutely aware of being alive, and that was weird, too. “After everything you said?” he asked.

Aziraphale nodded, pressing his lips together, eyes darting around the car. 

Crowley observed his behavior. “You’re tense.”

“Of course I am,” he said, but not unkindly. “I don’t like giving this to you, but better it’s from me, contained in that, than any other way. I only wish you hadn’t been so intent on getting it.”

Crowley held the thermos close. “It gives me some peace of mind.”

Aziraphale sighed. “It does the opposite for me.”

Crowley had to change the subject. “Well, you went out of your way...shall I drop you off anywhere?”

He smiled tightly. “No, thank you.”

Crowley frowned. They barely had a real conversation since 1862. He wanted to spend more time with him, even with the memories of their relationship hanging over his head. In the years since 1941, he had grown to miss him more.

Aziraphale glanced at him. “Oh, Crowley,” he said emphatically, “please don’t.”

“What?” he asked, genuinely confused.

“Don’t look so disappointed.”

“I’m not,” he said defensively.

Aziraphale shook his head. “You can’t lie to me about how you feel,” he said pointedly.

Crowley’s breath hitched. “Wait,” he said, grasping his shoulder as he tried to leave the car. He felt burned when Aziraphale flinched. “Can’t we be friends again?” he asked plainly. He couldn’t deal with this anymore. “This awkward bullshit has gotten old.”

Aziraphale stared at him for a long moment, unreadable. “Are we not friends?”

Crowley let go of him. “I don’t know. We haven’t really talked since the 19th century.”

Aziraphale looked ahead at the people crossing the street. “I suppose we haven’t.” He blinked a couple times, looking down. “Know nothing has changed for me. You’re still…my...” He shut his eyes. “You’re still my best friend.”

That so wasn’t what he was going to say, but Crowley knew he wasn’t going to get the truth out of him. Getting him to acknowledge the elephant in the room was like pulling teeth. Seven years of snogging and embracing, and he refused to do anything but vaguely refer to that time period. Even if they couldn’t go back to the way they were, the least Aziraphale could do was act like they were, at a time, damn well more than friends. “You’re right,” Crowley sat back in the seat, clutching the thermos. “I am disappointed.”

That wounded Aziraphale. “Stop,” he said faintly. “Don’t make this worse than it has to be. You mean too much to me, Crowley.” He left the car.

A ripple ran through his heart. “Where do I begin with that?” he asked the empty car seat. He let out a groan of annoyance. This all felt bloody unfair. He never would have acted upon his desires. None of this would have happened if Aziraphale hadn’t been the one to make the first move. He would have gone on minding his business with the occasional wank here and there. It wasn’t his fault the love of his life kissed him, and then dismissed Crowley’s attempt to give him a way out at first. Then he had to go and say he couldn’t move on because he knew Crowley loved him, but fucking Gabriel and Sandalphon came and messed everything up. It was like they flipped a switch on Aziraphale.

“I wanna kill them,” he growled under his breath. But he couldn’t. All he could do was drive home, put the holy water away, and resist another decades-long nap.


The closest they got since 1800 was, strangely enough, because of the end of the world. Not the actual event itself, but their attempt to stop it. 

The only bout of awkwardness that happened was the night Crowley was trying to convince Aziraphale to help him with the anti-Christ. They were spectacularly drunk, more than they had been in a long time. Crowley was having fun, despite delivering the son of Satan to a nunnery tonight. He was dizzy and slurring and not feeling like he was walking on eggshells around Aziraphale. It almost felt like old times.

“And the, the, the platypuses...platypi? What are they? Mammal?”

“I think,” Aziraphale hiccuped. “I think so. But...no, they lay eggs.” He was slumped in his chair, holding his glass with both hands, his gaze unfocused.

“I think they’re still mammals. What was God thinking?” he scrunched up his nose. “They look fake. Made up.”

“God made everything up,” Aziraphale said with a giggle. “That’s the point.”

“Yeah,” he leaned forward, “and don’t you wanna save God’s made up things? God’s creations? You’re an angel.”

Aziraphale sighed. “I want to, darling, but I can’t.”

Crowley was glad his sunglasses were still on. The light drunken blush turned fierce and scarlet. His heart had leapt into his throat, so he couldn’t speak. It was clearly a slip of the tongue, but to Crowley’s intoxicated brain, that made it better/worse, because it meant that when his guard was down, Aziraphale still thought of him as his...his...he couldn’t even repeat that word in his mind. He got up on unsteady legs and staggered over to refill his glass. “You could if you wanted,” he muttered under his breath.

“What was that?”

“Dolphins,” he said. “Let’s talk ’bout dolphins.”

After he managed to convince Aziraphale to work with him, they saw each other on a regular basis. When they kept their conversations strictly related to life on earth and preserving it, things were normal between them. The time they spent as Nanny Ashtoreth and Brother Francis had the buffer of Warlock between them, and they got along pretty well. He never forgot what Aziraphale’s lips felt like, or the sounds of his quiet, poorly suppressed moans when they got sort of heated, but it didn’t feel like his heart was trying to claw its way up his throat every time Crowley thought of him anymore, so that was a win. 

Everything was fine. Until Warlock’s eleventh birthday.

“Wrong boy.”

That was how they found themselves in Tadfield. Crowley was sure this was the right place—he remembered delivering the baby like yesterday—but the paintball guns were new.

“They’re murdering each other out there?” Aziraphale asked in alarm.

Crowley reluctantly gave up the game. “No,” he sighed, “nobody’s killing anybody. It wouldn’t be any fun that way. They’re just having miraculous escapes.” This was the kind of fun he liked to have; he ensured no harm was done to any human, but they let their hatred for their coworkers take over and they, for all intents and purposes, were about to kill each other. They would have to live with the fallout of their actions. He smiled. Blissful mischief.

Then Aziraphale had to ruin it. “You know, Crowley. I’ve always said that deep down, you really are quite a nice—”

Crowley’s body acted on its own accord. He shoved Aziraphale against the wall, their lips dangerously close to touching. It was reminiscent of when he grabbed Aziraphale and got in his face in 1793, but he had a feeling he wasn’t going to get a bloody ball of celestial love put in his soul this time. He could not hear Aziraphale praise him. It did weird things to his stomach.

Aziraphale was thoroughly unimpressed by his outburst and vehement denials. “Are you quite finished?” he asked with a quirked eyebrow.

“No,” he pushed him harder into the wall. No, this is the most I’ve touched you in over 200 years and I missed this, but you make me so bloody angry sometimes. “Someone’s got to put you in your place,” he said instead.

Aziraphale had the absolute gall to looked bored. “Oh, please. Unhand me.”

“What if I don’t?” he asked stubbornly.

Aziraphale was still bored.

“Why don’t you look scared?” he huffed in frustration.

“Because I’m not,” he said simply. “You’ve never scared me.”

“I should.” Scaring people was his forte. He just made a man faint outside.

“It’s far too late for that, dearest.”

Crowley let go of him then, stepping backwards, the pet name ringing in his ears, dozens of memories of that word murmured in between kisses playing before his mind’s eye. This was different than that drunken night in the bookshop. Aziraphale was completely sober, and yet there it was, another slip of the tongue. Crowley was on edge, and he wasn’t in the mood to brush aside his desire to be together again. “Don’t call me that,” he said lowly. Don’t rub salt in the wound. “Ever.”

Aziraphale seemed to realize what he said and his cheeks pinkened, eyes widening, more distressed now than when he was shoved against the wall.. “Er. S-sorry—”

“Excuse me, gents.”

Crowley startled. It was that nun. He snapped his fingers, and the moment was over.


Crowley was steaming with rage. How? How could Aziraphale do this? “You can’t be serious,” he said flatly. 

Aziraphale’s hands were balled into fists and there was a sharpness to his expression.

His heart stung with each beat and his normally cold blood boiled. He had to lower his voice, because if he didn’t, he would have started shouting. He spent so damn long holding everything back, all his confusion and frustration and longing and hurt, and the end approaching was the final straw to break the camel’s back that was his self-control. “First you break up with me in 1800,” he said coldly, “and now you’re doing it again.”

“Don’t talk about 1800,” Aziraphale grimaced.

“Why the Heaven not?” he asked, voice hardening further. “Does it bother you that much, that you let yourself be tempted by me for 7 years?”

“For God’s sake,” he rolled his eyes, “that isn’t it at all. You didn’t ‘tempt’ me.”

“Then tell me,” he stepped forward. “I deserve to know. Why are you turning on me like this?” 

Aziraphale was a mess of nerves. “A-as I said, we’re heredit—”

“No,” Crowley barked, heartbeat in his ears. It felt like he was blushing, but it was from anger, and that had never happened to him before. “Don’t give me that stock line from Heaven. There was a time when we were more than just agents of Heaven and Hell.”

“That time ended over 200 years ago, as you know very well,” Aziraphale sneered, his words worse than the dagger that Sandalphon plunged into his flesh. 

Crowley’s chest was heaving. His breathing was too heavy, his chest hurt too much, and he was done. “Fine,” he spat. “You know what? Sod off. I’ve got better things to do than mope around you all day.” He turned before he could see the look on Aziraphale’s face. He felt incredibly stupid for spending so much time dwelling over a stupid fucking angel. Heaven’s lot always screwed him over. He didn’t fit in with angels, demons, or humans. He was alone. When he was in the safety of his flat, he took off his glasses and roughly rubbed away the moisture in his eyes. He needed to escape.

And then he was confronted by Hastur, and shit, the worst was coming. Hell found out it was him. He might have to use the holy water, but he was more inclined to run away. He wasn’t a coward, but pragmatic. He had no idea where the real anti-Christ was. He had no leads other than him being in Tadfield, and Sergeant Shadwell hadn’t gotten back to him. This bonkers, beautiful planet was going to go up in flames, and he would be foolish to hang around to see it. Alpha Centauri was always nice this time of year. He could watch it all end from there, and after that, well. He didn’t know. But he would think of something. It was better than watching Heaven and Hell have their war. One of two things was going to happen: it was either Heaven would win and he would be killed, or Hell would win and Aziraphale would be killed. As much as he absolutely wanted to throttle the infuriating arse, Crowley wouldn’t let him fall into the hands of Hell. At best, they would kill him quickly, and at worst, Aziraphale was in for eras of torture. Crowley shuddered and hopped into his car.

Of fucking course, he was rejected again. Why? Why did he expect any different? Why couldn’t he get rid of this cursed optimism once and for all and stop making an absolute moron out of himself all of the time? More than anything else, though, he felt like he hardly knew Aziraphale anymore. It was like someone replaced his mind with that of a generic, obedient servant of Heaven. He was never quite like this, even in the early days. Where was the person he fell in love with?

The only reason why he even went back to the bookshop was because Aziraphale knew where the anti-Christ was, and if they had a real chance to save the world, Crowley was going to take it. This was bigger than the two of them.


Crowley had folded his arms on the table and buried his face into his sleeves. The sunglasses were pressing uncomfortably against his skin, but he didn’t care. He was numb. He was too late, too late too late too late. He never let him down before, and he just did in the worst way possible. If only he dealt with Hastur sooner. If only he didn’t drive home after their fight on the street. His shoulders shook and hot tears soaked the lenses of his sunglasses. The last real conversation they had was so awful, and that was how it ended, awful and upset and furious and at odds with each other. The alcohol did nothing to dim the utter devastation coursing through his body relentlessly. Despite the ugliness of their last moments, Crowley still loved Aziraphale with his entirety, and now he was condemned to emptiness. He didn’t even care about the world now. He only wished he could have kissed him one last time. Maybe even told him he loved him, instead of just having him feel it. He had to admit now, hunched over at the table, that he could see where Aziraphale was coming from in 1800. Sort of. Crowley hadn’t died, but seeing him bleeding out and almost discorporated must have shaken Aziraphale to his core. It probably made him imagine what it would be like if Crowley actually died, and he couldn’t stand the possibility. If Crowley thought there was a real danger, and not just some distant threat that Aziraphale would be killed for their relationship, he would have done the same thing because losing him was, hands down, the worst thing he ever felt. It was worse than Falling.

A crack of thunder.

He lifted his head, glasses askew on his face. His jaw dropped, and he had a reason to go on again. “Aziraphale.”

Aziraphale’s wavy image looked at him.

“Are you here?” he asked in disbelief, lifting his sunglasses.

“Good question,” he said. “Not certain. Never done this before. Can you hear me?”

He was real. He was alive. “Course I can hear you,” Crowley said, voice scratchy from screaming in the flames. (And crying.)

“I’m afraid I rather made a mess of things.”

Biggest fucking understatement ever.

He furrowed his brow. “Are you...are you crying?” he asked hesitantly.

Crowley pushed the glasses all the way up his nose. “No. I’m just drunk.”

“I see.” He paused. “Did you go to Alpha Centauri?”

Crowley straightened his glasses on his nose and sniffed. “Ah-uh-nuh, changed my mind. Stuff happened.” He stared at him, drunk and feeling about as durable as fragile glass. What a fucking day it had been. How was one demon supposed to process this much emotion? It shouldn’t have been allowed.

“Crowley?” Aziraphale asked.

Ah, he had been silent for too long. He wanted to say so much, but didn’t want to start another argument, either. He just got him back. I lost my partner, my soulmate, my reason to keep going. None of that would have been acceptable. He now knew true grief, and he didn’t want to lose Aziraphale again in any capacity, even just in friendship. If Aziraphale never wanted them to be anything more than friends again...then, he would have to accept that. He couldn’t force him into a relationship. He supposed things really had changed too much. They had their moment in the sun. He would just have to remember that. “I lost my best friend.” 


As they did before, Crowley and Aziraphale put everything else aside when it came to saving the world. The rest of the evening was totally bonkers, but Satan himself went back into the pits of Hell, and the young anti-Christ was being scolded by his real, earthly father.

Crowley shook his head, incredulous at about everything that happened over the past ten minutes. God, why are you like this? If ending the world had been part of Her plan, then it would have happened, but why convince Heaven and Hell they needed to destroy the earth anyway? He would never know. It was asking questions like these which got him in trouble.

Aziraphale was chatting with Madam Tracy, thanking her for letting him use her body.

Crowley felt his lips twitch. It wasn’t enough to be a true smile, but it was there. They weren’t out of danger yet, but the rest of humanity was, and Aziraphale was well and truly back, body and all. He sighed deeply, mentally fatigued. He allowed himself to smile a fraction wider. He may have been annoying as anything, but Aziraphale was bloody brilliant, and they wouldn’t have been able to do anything if he hadn’t worked out where Adam was.

“Excuse me?”

Crowley turned around and saw Adam’s friends looking at him curiously. The question had come from the boy in the glasses. “Yeah?” he asked.

“Sorry, it’s just—Pepper said it looks like you like him.”

“It’s obvious he does,” the girl put her hands on her hips.

“Like who?’ Crowley asked.

“The one with the white hair,” the other boy said.

Oh. Nope. He was not about to have this conversation with children. “We’re just friends,” he shrugged. “Friends like each other.”

“Actually, you seem like more than friends,” the boy with the glasses pressed on.

Crowley shook his head slowly. “No. Just friends,” he said, resigned. “We wouldn’t be anything else. Uh, we’re hereditary enemies and all that.”

“What exactly are you?” the girl narrowed her eyes.

He was used to denying his true nature, but these children literally just saw Satan, so it would have been ridiculous to keep up the façade. “A demon,” he lowered his sunglasses to show off his eyes.

“Woah,” the other boy said, and the two others looked impressed.

Crowley put the glasses back up. He never received that reaction before. “Anyway, he’s an angel. See? It wouldn’t work.”

“It could if you wanted it to,” the girl shrugged.

The way human children were different from their adult counterparts was that they made simple, brutally honest observations. “That’s the problem, eh?” he said lightly, putting his hands in his pockets. But he realized that was too revealing, and stammered. “I, uh, I mean we wouldn’t work anyway ‘cause I’m a demon and we don’t feel things like that. Did you see my eyes? I’m spooky.” He grimaced. Since when had Aziraphale’s vocabulary become his own?

“You’re not spooky compared to Satan,” said the girl.

“No one is,” Crowley admitted easily.

“Anyway,” she continued, “he said he’d never talk to you again and that made you sad, so you’ve got to really like him.”

Crowley wanted out of this conversation. Was his bleeding heart that obvious, that even children who were strangers saw how lovesick he was? “Just friends,” he denied again.

Adam had come over by then, his head hung low. “I’m grounded,” he muttered to his friends. “I’ll see you guys later?”

Crowley couldn’t imagine what kind of demonic powers he had shown his friends. Really, it was unbelievable that the kids weren’t freaking out right now.

His friends looked at each other with frowns.

But Adam didn’t look at them, and turned his attention to Crowley, staring at him intently.

Crowley felt true fear when Adam locked eyes with him, because his power was close to that of the Almighty’s, but controlled by a child. What was Hell thinking?

Casual as can be, Adam said, “You should talk to him, you know. The angel. I know it’s bothering you. I can see it in your head.”

“So he does like him,” the girl declared.

“More than like,” Adam said calmly, as if he weren’t tearing down every defense and wall Crowley built up for 6,000 years. He made a face. “Kinda gross how much he cares about him, actually.”

“Actually, that’s sort of nice,” the boy with the glasses said.

Crowley never hurt children, and wasn’t about to start today, so he said, “Right, have fun being grounded, anti-Christ,” and turned away from them before he did anything rash. He took a couple steps forward, but faltered when he looked ahead.

Aziraphale was staring directly at him.

Fuck. He heard.

But then the girl with the bicycle tapped Aziraphale on the shoulder and he turned away. 

Crowley’s heart started beating again. He hadn’t realized it stopped.

“For what it’s worth,” Adam said, suddenly beside him. (No, Crowley did not jump at a human child startling him. He wasn’t startled.) “I can see his thoughts and he’s thinking about you, too.” Adam looked mildly put off. “Oh, ew, you’ve kissed. Adults are gross.”

Crowley exhaled very slowly. “No offense, Adam, but I don’t need relationship advice from a kid...or the anti-Christ.”

Adam snorted, smirking. “Seems like you do.”

“Adam!” the boy’s father called impatiently.

He sighed sadly and walked away.

Crowley went to Aziraphale, telling his skin to stop flushing this instant. A demon older than time was not allowed to be embarrassed by children.

Aziraphale raised his eyebrows curiously. “What did Adam want?” he asked lightly.

“Nothing,” Crowley lied, ignoring that they both knew Aziraphale heard at least part of the conversation.

A little later, as they drank wine on the bench, the bus pulled up.

“I suppose I should have him drop me off at the bookshop,” Aziraphale said.

Crowley turned to him, heart breaking. He loved his car and it hurt to see it destroyed, but he knew he put far more effort and years of devotion into the bookshop, and now it was gone. “It burned down,” he said gently. “Remember?”

Aziraphale turned glum and he nodded slowly, looking away.

Crowley couldn’t leave him with nowhere to go. “You can stay at my place, if you like.”

Aziraphale looked back at him, his eyes unsure and dark in the moonlight. “Are you sure?” he asked quietly, so quietly he was hard to hear.

“Don’t ask stupid questions,” Crowley said with no venom. “You’re always welcome.” Damn. That was too much.

Aziraphale looked away again, down at the ground. He seemed small, somehow. Crowley felt incredibly protective.

They sat next to each other on the bus. Crowley’s hand itched and burned for Aziraphale’s, but they stayed still the whole ride back to London. Crowley wanted to touch him and not just for his sake; Aziraphale seemed really torn up about the bookshop, and he wanted to wrap an arm around his shoulders and hold him close. He didn’t. Crowley looked out the window because he couldn’t look at the expression on his face and not do something to make him feel better. But Crowley knew he wasn’t wanted. Not that way.

Chapter Text

After leaving the air base, they were distracted by the whole bit about trying not to be murdered by their superiors. They came up with the plan and agreed to swap first thing in the morning. Crowley didn’t know if it would work, but it was the only chance they had. They had a few hours before dawn, and it was awkward having Aziraphale in his flat. The last time he was in his home, it was a different place. A different time. 

Aziraphale gasped when he saw the remains of Ligur on the floor. “What happened here?”

“Ah, yeah, uh, that was Ligur. That holy water came in handy.”

“Oh. Well. I suppose I’m glad I gave it to you.”

He bit his tongue that this was why he wanted it in the first place in 1862 and had known he was right.

Aziraphale got rid of the mess with a miracle, and Crowley needed a power nap if he was going to have the energy to switch bodies; keeping his flaming car functioning through sheer willpower and stopping time took a lot out of him.

“Just an hour or two,” Crowley mumbled, holding back a yawn. “I’ll be awake before dawn.”

“All right,” Aziraphale nodded, seated on the throne. “I see you’re hiding some books in your sitting room, so I’ll poke through those.”

Crowley rolled his eyes behind the glasses. “Just a couple. Some astronomy, music history, stuff like that.”

“It’ll do.”

Crowley left him there and went to bed, too spent for his mind to race and try to sort through everything that happened. He was pretty good at sleeping through his feelings. But he got himself up a couple hours later, even though he wanted to sleep for another couple of weeks. He yawned and put his sunglasses back on. He had no idea if Aziraphale ever slept, period, he certainly didn’t when they were together, so Crowley was not surprised to find him awake where he left him. His eyebrows climbed up his forehead all the same, however, when he realized what he was doing.

Aziraphale’s elbows were on the table in front of him and his face was in his hands. His shoulders shook, and there were wet, gasping little sounds coming from him. He...he was crying. He had tears in his eyes when he healed Crowley’s stab wound, but even then, he had not audibly wept. In 6,000 years, Crowley never witnessed him like this. The hushed, harsh breaths made an unpleasant shiver coil around his spine. The sounds leaving Aziraphale’s lips were broken little things, and Crowley knew he was only letting himself cry like this because he thought he was alone, but he couldn’t just stand and watch. “Aziraphale?”

His head shot up and there were tear tracks down his cheeks. With a wave of his hand, his face was dry and his flushed cheeks were a neutral hue. “Up already?” he asked, his attempt to sound calm only making his voice high-pitched.

Crowley walked closer.“What’s wrong?”

“Wrong?” he laughed nervously. “Nothing’s wrong. A-aside from our possible deaths tomorrow, that is.”

But something told Crowley that wasn’t the cause of his tears. He didn’t want to intrude and start a fight, but this was his flat, wasn’t it? He had a right to intrude. “You could miracle away the tears, but I saw,” he said quietly.

Aziraphale’s gaze dropped to the table and the tips of his ears turned red. “Sorry,” he muttered.

Crowley shook his head. “Look, I know we don’t...talk. About anything. But. We went through a lot today, yeah? You can tell me what’s wrong and after we survive tomorrow, I’ll forget about this and it’ll be fine. Then I’ll go back to making fun of you for your bow ties and abysmal lack of knowledge on pop culture.”

But Aziraphale only seemed to shrink further in on himself. “It’s...it’s just...The books.”

Crowley studied him. “The books?”

“Yes. I know you aren’t into them as much as I am, but they were important to me. And they’re gone.”

“Of course.” He knew Aziraphale’s love of books knew no bounds, and that losing his shop of 219 years must have been genuinely upsetting. Nothing could be done about it, though, and that was the worst part. “Um...I’m not gonna patronize you and say it’s all okay, ’cause I know you loved them a lot.”

Aziraphale shuddered, eyes closing.

Damn, he was botching this up. He scratched the back of his neck. “Sorry.”

“Please,” Aziraphale turned his face upwards to him, frown lines deeply etched into the corners of his mouth and under his eyes. “Please tell me we’ll survive tomorrow.”

Crowley thought that was a little bit of a non-sequitur, but said, “We will survive tomorrow. Today, technically. It’s Sunday now.”

Aziraphale got up and peered into the plant room, looking out one of the windows inside it. “I think I see the sun.”

The conversation wasn’t over, but it had to be halted for now. “Then are you ready to switch?”

“Yes.”


Their body swap plan worked. Crowley was still in a bit of a shock they actually pulled it off when they switched back (the situation was too dire for him to have fully appreciated being in Aziraphale’s body, but really, it would have been a bit scummy if he had done anything indecent, wouldn’t it?). They had dinner at the Ritz, and it was...good. Deceptively so. But he figured that since they just saved the world and got themselves freed from their superiors for the time being, they were entitled to a pleasant meal for once, yeah? Yeah. Crowley drove Aziraphale to the bookshop in his newly restored (thank someone!) Bentley. He stopped the car.

Aziraphale didn’t get out right away, which struck Crowley as a little odd, considering he was crying over the shop earlier. He sighed, a little grin on his lips. “We really made it.”

“Yep,” Crowley nodded. “That we did.”

Aziraphale’s grin faded and he looked like he was debating something in his head. Then, he turned away, the grin slipping off his lips entirely. He looked contemplative and uneasy.

Crowley looked up at the shop. “There’s your shop, not a smudge, like I said,” he said. “Aren’t you excited to see it?”

“I’m glad it’s okay,” he said woodenly.

Crowley was reminded of how uncomfortable he was in that very seat in 1967 and got nervous. “Right. Don’t you want to go inside?”

Aziraphale’s lip quivered and he bit down on it.

Crowley was lost. What was happening? Was he about to cry again? He thought everything was okay now. If Aziraphale had been upset about the books, then he wouldn’t have been acting like this. He must have lied. Again.

But then Aziraphale seemed to force himself into composure and said, “We need more alcohol, don’t you think, for what we did?”

“I’m never opposed to more alcohol, but you gotta admit we didn’t do much but give a kid some last minute advice.”

Aziraphale’s smile didn’t meet his eyes. “Yes, you’re right. Come in my shop all the same.”

Crowley agreed, because yeah, he’d like to get drunk, but he also didn’t want to leave Aziraphale alone right now. It wasn’t a completely reasonable thought, since he left him alone plenty of times over the millennia and he was fine, but he didn’t seem fine now, and damn it, he should have been, and Crowley shouldn’t have been so uneasy, but he was.

They were only a couple of glasses into a bottle of wine, sitting on an old, lumpy sofa in the back of the shop, when they fell into silence. Their conversations naturally fizzled out in the past, but Crowley couldn’t stop looking at Aziraphale from over the top of his glasses, examining how his shoulders were pulled taut and his head seemed to be somewhere else. The world was saved, his shop was completely restored, and he had just eaten at the Ritz.

“So. Are you going to tell me what’s bugging you?” Crowley asked bluntly.

Aziraphale’s mouth twitched. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“You weren’t upset about the books last night,” Crowley accused flatly. “You couldn’t have been, because here they all are again, and you’re on edge.”

Aziraphale tensed further. He was looking into his glass. He shook his head, bringing in a shaking breath. “Must we discuss it?”

“Yeah, I think. I’m tired of secrets.” Crowley was never great at comforting people, but especially not when the root of the problem was unknown. He was on edge from everything that happened, and wasn’t up for guessing games. But Crowley knew he was fragile, so he couldn’t be nasty. “Tell me what’s really going on, ’cause I thought you’d be rejoicing right now,” he said slowly. “Books are back. World’s still here. We’ll be left alone for awhile.”

Aziraphale turned to him. Going by the look on his face, Crowley would have thought he was crying again if it weren’t for the dryness of his eyes.  His gaze snapped back to the glass, his eyes squeezing shut. “Why can’t I do this?” he whispered. He clenched his jaw.

Crowley felt like he was going to lose his mind. “Do what ?” he put his glass down on a nearby table. “You’re driving me mad over here.”

“Crowley,” he opened his eyes, and they were pain-stricken. His hands shook as it held the glass. “We’re safe now. They believe we’re indestructible. I—I want you so much, but I’m still afraid,” he said hoarsely. “I don’t know why,” he began speaking quickly, “but I wish I could just stop and give you what you want. After all this, I’m still the coward I’ve always been. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

Crowley’s mind was threatening to get stuck in a loop of “I want you so much” , but no, he had to focus. He wasn’t necessarily surprised that Aziraphale still cared for him, but thought anything beyond friendship was off the table. It was what he wanted, but it wasn’t supposed to be unpleasant like this. Aziraphale was supposed to be happy about going back to him. Crowley hadn’t considered this possibility, but he didn’t want to force their relationship to happen. “Last night, you were crying over this?” he asked once he found his voice.

Aziraphale nodded, looking more ashamed by the second. “I’m sorry—”

“Stop it,” he hissed, instantly feeling awful. “Stop apologizing. Just. You’re not a coward. Why do you think that? You just waltzed in and out of Hell today.”

“This is different,” he said. He licked his lips. “We were together for seven years. I know you love me.” 

Crowley’s mouth was dry. This was the first time either of them had directly said “love” about their situation in hundreds of years, and it made him blush furiously. He didn’t deny it because it would have been pointless, but he still choked out an “Uegh.” It wasn’t his fault; you try having your soulmate expose you like that. Think on that, audience in Crowley’s head. Okay. He was losing it. Focus. 

Aziraphale kept talking. “But, I keep fearing someone is going to barge in and take you away from me.” His lower lip was protruding and it quivered imperceptibly. “I was so terrified while in Hell, not because of what I was doing, but because I kept thinking about you in Heaven.”

Crowley took a steadying breath because he thought his lungs were shaking. Was that possible? Did humans experience that? He never knew much about human biology.  “I’m not going anywhere,” he told him sincerely. “No one is coming.”

“I know,” he said in frustration. “So why can’t I stop thinking something bad will happen?”

Crowley had questions, like Wait, so you really do still want me? But he didn’t like how shaky Aziraphale’s voice was getting. He had to make it better. How? He sat closer to him, not touching. He took off his glasses, sliding them into his pocket. He liked to keep them on, but this was too serious. Okay. Where to start? Aziraphale may have been bitchier (is that a word? Who cares) than most angels, but he was still a kind, loving being at heart. He wasn’t made to brush off fear and pain and death the way demons were, and even then, Crowley could admit that he was having a hard time brushing off those things lately, too. 1800 truly left a mark on them both, but in different ways. Crowley had been devastated. Aziraphale had been petrified.

“You know what I hate?” Crowley said. “You weren’t wrong. I wanted to be so angry at you. I was, for a time. But I knew you were right.” He felt that same stormcloud that hovered over his heart during their breakup rear its ugly head. It still hurt him, so of course it still hurt Aziraphale. Maybe he had been too wrapped up in his own pain. “They tried to kill us today and they didn’t even know we were...” He was going to leave it there, but he was tired of pretending 1793-1800 was a dream. “A couple.”

Aziraphale’s hands kept trembling, misery radiating off him.

Crowley grimaced, practically feeling his unhappiness. 

“I hated hurting you,” Aziraphale said in a broken voice. “The guilt has been eating me alive for hundreds of years.” Then, his eyes filled with tears.

Oh. That was the trigger for his tears. Crowley was the reason behind his suffering. “Stop,” he croaked. “Don’t do that. You can’t cry.” They had fought and bickered in the past, but making Aziraphale cry was absolutely unacceptable. Crowley never felt more demonic than in this moment, being the cause of an angel’s tears. 

Aziraphale blinked at him. Somehow, the tears didn’t fall. His face reddened. “Sorry.”

“No,” he groaned. “For Hell’s sake, don’t get it twisted. I don’t want you to cry because I care about you, you idiot.” Fuck, he shouldn’t call him names now. “I didn’t mean that. Sorry. I’m shit at this. I just don’t want you to be upset.”

Aziraphale didn’t looked embarrassed anymore, but the unshed tears remained. “How could I not be? I couldn’t compromise your safety, but I knew you were hurting.”

“I wasn’t—”

“No,” Aziraphale interrupted. “I know you were, Crowley. Please, no more denials. It’s been so long.”

Crowley’s shoulders moved up and down in a slow sigh. He did get tired of pretending. “Okay. All right.”

Aziraphale scrubbed a hand over his face, looking tired. “I wanted you to stop loving me, for your sake.”

“Never,” he swore. “I could never stop, Aziraphale,” he admitted. This was hard to say (it was mortifying, actually), since he went through the majority of his existence trying to be colder than he really was, but if it would make Aziraphale feel better, he would say it until his lips turned numb. His demonic instincts were always drowned out by his desire to appease him.

Aziraphale’s eyes were red. “You must know every time I pushed you away, it was because I couldn’t bear the thought of your death,” he told him, his voice growing more fragile. “Never because of you. I’m sorry.”

“I get it. Don’t worry about it.” An uncomfortable thought nagged his brain. Aziraphale was caught up in how upset he was, but hadn’t mentioned his own feelings. In 1793, he had said he would have ignored his feelings easily, but couldn’t ignore Crowley’s. That didn’t seem fair. Would he have continued to carry around this pain if Crowley hadn’t been upset by their breakup? He had a sinking feeling that this was a byproduct of Heaven drilling it into Aziraphale’s head that his own feelings didn’t matter. Everything must be ignored for the greater good. “What about what you feel?”

Aziraphale shifted on the sofa, surprised by the question. “What?”

“You’ve talked about how I was upset after we broke up, but what about how you felt? Not your reaction to me.”

“It...I felt dreadful,” Aziraphale admitted after a few shaky inhales through his mouth, and his fist rose to his lips as a tear finally spilled onto his face. 

The sight made Crowley ill, pain stabbing his stomach and blood turning to ice. He took the glass out of his grip with a wave of his hand. Crowley pulled him into a hug, turning on the sofa, one arm around his shoulders and a hand cradling the back of his head. His heart was pounding in his ears and he was sure his face was red, and when he heard Aziraphale gasp, he murmured, “Let me do this, please, we’re safe now, I promise. Let me.”

Aziraphale then buried his face into his shoulder, arms wrapping around his back and hands clutching his jacket. He shook hard, so Crowley held him tighter, not inclined to comment on the wetness seeping into his shoulder. He closed his eyes, breathing deeply, letting his lungs completely fill with air, and then slowly exhaled. His heart beat against Aziraphale’s. It was a dizzying sensation. They embraced for long moments filled with the sounds of muffled sniffling and suppressed cries. Aziraphale was nothing but warmth in Crowley’s embrace and he smelled like cinnamon and vanilla, just as he always had. Oh, fuck, I forgot how good hugging you feels. The emptiness in his chest left behind by Aziraphale was worse than the hole left by God, and feeling it begin to mend caused Crowley to bury his face into the soft, feathery white curls. He could not do this a second time. He didn’t think he would ever recover if Aziraphale’s love was ripped from him again. He would rather go back to Hell and have Hastur do whatever he pleased with him. A spark of fear zapped his spine. 

“Angel,” he breathed into his hair, “listen, it’s okay now. No one’s gonna take me away from you. Just don’t leave me.” Please.

Aziraphale made a sound close to a whimper. “Oh, Crowley. I...I’ll be brave from now on. For you. I never wanted to separate.” With a deep sigh, he lifted his head, his cheeks damp. “I missed you an awful lot. You made me very happy and always I wanted you back. I never forgot those days. Ever.” He sniffled. “Or the look on your face when I ended it.”

Crowley melted, aching for him. He wanted to kiss the tears away from his cheeks. He wanted to see that sunny smile again. They were close, so close that all he had to do was tip his head forward for their foreheads to press together. “I missed you, too.” More than he could possibly verbalize. “Let me make you happy again,” he pleaded, closing his eyes. “Please. I’ll give you anything. The moon and the stars, if I could.” Shit. He was babbling. “I mean, well, no, I meant that. But. Satan, look what you’ve done to me,” he moaned. “I’m a demon, but I wanna bend over backwards to please you.”

Aziraphale’s shuddering breath was hot on his skin. “I never meant to do this to you.”

“No, don’t say that,” he cupped his jaw. “Get rid of all that angelic guilt. I like loving you.”

Soft, wet lips were on his. Crowley melted more, into a puddle of goo, the way he always did when Aziraphale kissed him. The knot in his stomach began to loosen slowly. His lips tasted like home. Aziraphale cupped both of his cheeks in his hands and deepened the kiss, tilting his face to the side. His palms were warm and soft as they’d always been. Warmth bloomed over Crowley’s face and neck. Finally , finally , finally

“Oh, God,” Aziraphale said, breaking the kiss.

“What?”

“I feel it—you love me more than back then.”

Crowley gulped, feeling naked even though he was fully clothed. He couldn’t run or look away since his face was still held by Aziraphale’s hands. He was sure his blush could be felt under those soft palms. “I do,” he confessed. “No point in denying it.”

Aziraphale was incredulous. “How could it be more, after everything?”

Crowley grasped his hands, but didn’t push him away. “I don’t know,” he said honestly, “but it’s only ever gotten stronger over time.”

Aziraphale kissed him then, perhaps to feel Crowley’s love again, or perhaps he just wanted to touch him.

“I thought you didn’t want me anymore,” he mumbled before he could stop himself. “Before now, I mean.”

Aziraphale pulled back and his face was struck with horror. 

Shit. “Sorry, I shouldn’t have said—”

“Dearest, I love you,” he confessed. “Don’t you remember when I made you feel it?”

Crowley absolutely did remember, but hadn’t realized how much he yearned to hear those three exact words from Aziraphale until now. His heart felt like it was getting bigger with each beat, threatening to crack his ribs, and he pinched the bridge of his nose and turned away when his eyes stung. 

“Do you want me to have you feel it again?”

“No!” he flushed to his hairline. “You’ll kill me. Damn it. You can’t—you shouldn’t—I dunno, I dunno what I’m saying but you don’t have to say it. I remember.” He actually really wanted to hear those words again, but he didn’t think he could take it. An angel was allowed to cry in front of others, but a demon? No, no. It was stupid. He knew he was loved. Hearing it shouldn’t have made him feel like he was going to burst into flames and explode all over the walls.

“I should have said it back then, too,” Aziraphale took his hand from his face and lowered it. “I love you so very much. Won’t you look at me?”

Crowley’s eyes were shut, feeling too vulnerable without his glasses. He shook his head roughly. They were both messes right now, weren’t they?

Both of Aziraphale’s hands held one of his, thumb stroking his knuckles. “I just shed tears in front of you, and you’re embarrassed? Dear, I think we’re on equal footing.” He laughed a little. “What a pair we make.”

Crowley opened his eyes to see a smile back on Aziraphale’s face, and his features resembling their usual softness only made his throat constrict. Blasted, beautiful, sunshine-y angel. His heart felt like it was going to break his sternum and ribcage any second now. He had to reach out and cup his soft, damp cheek. “I didn’t say it back then, either.” His voice sort of resembled jagged shards of glass, so he cleared his throat loudly. “But it’s stupid not to say it now. I love you.”

Aziraphale’s brows were furrowed into a pinch and his smile turned watery again. “I know, darling.”

Crowley kissed his mouth back into softness. He cupped his cheek with a tenderness he didn’t dare to let himself feel for centuries. He felt tension seep out of his spine when Aziraphale’s lips parted against his and their kiss deepened. A hand ran through his hair and then gripped the back of his neck. Crowley leaned in closer, rediscovering how plush and satin soft Aziraphale’s lips were. Their light kisses turned into Crowley bringing Aziraphale’s lower lip into his mouth and sucking. He was getting lost in the kiss, as cliché as it sounded. But Aziraphale’s soft palms were encircled around his hand and his mouth was enthusiastic and warm and kind of wet and, and Crowley felt a trickle of heat make itself known in his abdomen. Damn, he had gotten out of the practice of clamping down his desire. It was addicting, though, kissing Aziraphale again, so he didn’t stop. He shivered when Aziraphale took the lead, bringing his upper lip into his mouth and applying light, teasing sucks that sent jolts over electricity through Crowley’s body. He held back a moan and grasped Aziraphale’s coat (which he annoyingly still wore) for support. He leaned closer to him, and maybe if he didn’t have some wine in him, he would have noticed that he was tipping Aziraphale backwards.

But Aziraphale either didn’t notice right away or cared, because he kept kissing Crowley with a deep, increasingly heated tenderness. Crowley had forgotten how bloody sensitive lips could be, or at least how sensitive his were, and he definitely forgot that having a hand cup his jaw and a thumb stroke over his skin made his nipples tighten. When he touched himself, he tried to keep it fast. Being indulgent may have been demonic, but pretending Aziraphale’s hands were the ones actually on him made him sad more often than not, so he kept the touching limited to one area. Now, he was remembering just how often he had to keep his arousal at bay back in the day.

Aziraphale swiped the tip of his tongue over his bottom lip and, without warning, slipped it into his mouth. Crowley couldn’t stop a moan, and, and shit, his tongue was encircling Aziraphale’s. It had gone forked.

Aziraphale pulled back. “Oh my.”

Crowley was about to apologize, but he realized he was hovering over Aziraphale, and that he was on his back on the sofa. “When’d you go on your back?” he asked dumbly.

Aziraphale’s face was perfectly flushed and lips were swollen. He was breathing heavily, but amused. “You did that.”

Crowley swallowed, because Aziraphale looked tempting and it was making his mouth water. “I did?”

“Yes,” Aziraphale smiled lightly. “I don’t mind. The tongue is new, though.”

Oh, yeah. His serpentine features only came out when he was really getting aroused, and it went to show how much he held himself back in years past that Aziraphale never saw him like this before. He struggled to make his tongue round again.

Aziraphale gazed up at him from under his eyelashes shyly. “You know, it feels like being kissed by two tongues.”

Crowley’s brain was fuzzy. “Are you saying you like it?” There was no way he could stop his hiss in this state.

“I think so,” Aziraphale said, as if coming to the realization just now. “Your eyes, too. They’re completely yellow. They’re lovely.”

“Careful, angel. Finding my demonic features sexy’s got to be a sin.”

Aziraphale giggled and tugged on the collar of his shirt. “Probably wouldn’t be the first sin I’ve committed, to be honest.”

Crowley was having a difficult time fighting off his arousal. He bit his lip, looking away from the sight beneath him. “We can stop now, if you want.”

Aziraphale’s fingers trailed down the thin skin of his throat, and Crowley almost choked. “Dear,” he said hesitantly, “I know we never, well, did anything beyond share kisses. On my part, it was out of an abundance of caution, not a lack of desire,” he said lowly, eyes meeting his.

Oh God, oh God. I mean, Satan! Oh, Satan! It would have been easy for Crowley to lower his hips and grind them against Aziraphale. His cock decided now would be a great time to strain against the zipper of his trousers. He regretted his habit of not wearing underwear. He held himself back. “Uh, are you, really?”

“If you’re amenable?” he asked shyly. “It’s only that I want to be close to you. After. Well, I don’t have to go through it all again, do I?”

“If I’m am—of course I’m amenable,” he spluttered.

“Don’t act as if it were obvious.”

This was not a great conversation to have while literally on top of Aziraphale, but Crowley used it to his advantage. “I’ve been hiding this,” he dipped down and nudged his hardness against his—oh fuck, oh fuck he was hard, too. How had he not noticed?! The air left his lungs. “For centuries,” he finished his thought.

Aziraphale was a mixture of embarrassment and arousal, his mouth dropped open. “O-oh. Heh,” he breathed out a little laugh, “me, too.”

Crowley smirked, because the thought that they were hiding their erections from each other for at least two hundred years was frankly ridiculous. “You really chose to tell me you’ve thought about having sex with me when I’m on top of you?”

“It seemed counterproductive to tell you to get off first.”

Crowley snickered, burying his laugh into the crook of Aziraphale’s neck. Aziraphale joined him, and the sound was happy and just a little bit dirty, and Crowley could absolutely get used to that. “You just made a sex joke. What the hell?”

“Today is full of new beginnings,” he said brightly.

Crowley would normally deride him for being cheesy, but this was far better than when he was crying several minutes earlier, so he kept it to himself. He lifted his head. “Wait, so. Are we really gonna have sex?”

“I’d like to,” Aziraphale said. “Have you ever?”

“No,” he said honestly. “Just wanked. You?”

“Me neither.”

“Oh. Why not?”

“It didn’t feel right, doing something with humans when I could never return their feelings as an angel. What about you?”

“I was in love with you,” he said bluntly.

Aziraphale smiled. “Yes, but before that?”

“There was no before.” Crowley had to start kissing his neck because looking him in the eye right now was too much, too revealing. He was getting hard and his tongue was forked and he was blushing and he just admitted there was never a time on earth when he didn’t love Aziraphale, so hiding his face was the only thing he could do to prevent himself from bursting into flames like a firecracker from this absurd level of vulnerability. 

Aziraphale’s hand carded through his hair and his other one grasped his hip. “Oh,” he said simply.

Crowley’s blush burned and he let his forked tongue slide over his skin. The fingers in his hair tightened as he kissed and sucked and swirled his tongue into the warm, sweet-smelling underside of his jaw, his heart pounding. He could feel the vibration of Aziraphale’s stifled groan against his tongue, and his cock twitched and hardened further. Aziraphale was getting hard against him, and that was the most erotic thing he ever witnessed. As a demon, he had overseen orgies for work, but one angel in a bow tie had all of that beat. 

“Let yourself go,” Aziraphale told him, breath hot and ghosting onto his ear.

Crowley shivered. “Gugh,” he said.

He tilted his his upward. “I want you to enjoy yourself.”

The thing was that Crowley’s version of letting himself go would just be moaning and dry humping against Aziraphale. That would be lame. He was a demon. Even if he never had sex, he had seen plenty of complicated sex acts. But then again, he didn’t think Aziraphale would like being tied up and blindfolded and spanked. Bleh. He didn’t like the thought, either. “I want to…” he lifted his head, brain struggling to finish his thought and form words. Aziraphale was stunning, looking up at him with all of the trust in the world. Crowley blurted out, “I wanna take care of you.”

Before he could frantically try to take back the words and sound cool, Aziraphale went half-lidded and he bit his lip coyly. “Would you do something for me?”

“Anything.”

“I’m rather embarrassed to ask.” He put his hands between them, made his forefinger and thumb form a circle in his left hand, and used his forefinger from his right to poke through the hole.

Crowley stared down at his hands for a long moment before everything clicked into place and it felt like someone slapped the air right out of his lungs. “You want me to do that?” he wheezed.

“Would it be a trouble?” he asked worriedly.

“A trou...No, Aziraphale, it wouldn’t be a trouble.” All of the blood previously not there already went to his cock, leaving him dizzy. “You want me to do the deed? I eh, kinda always pictured it the other way ’round.”

Aziraphale smiled lightly. “Usually I did too, but tonight...I need you.” He licked his lips. “Please. I promise I’ll make love to you later.”

Crowley could never deny him a request, but especially not this. With the promise of a next time, he put his fantasies of being fucked silly by Aziraphale aside and crushed their lips together. He never did this before, but neither of them did, so it was okay. Crowley couldn’t stop touching him now. His palms ran over the apple of his cheeks, his chest and shoulders, the soft swell of his stomach. I love you, he thought over and over, savoring the huffs of breath and whimpers from Aziraphale. Crowley was unaware that of the two of them, he was actually the louder one, but noticing his moans would have required more sobriety and less heat in his pelvis. They took off their clothes without breaking the kiss as much as possible, hips rutting together as they removed their shirts, but the shoes were a problem.

Aziraphale broke the kiss, shushing Crowley when he whimpered. “One second.” He snapped his fingers and their shoes and socks were off. “Much better,” he said, and took the time to stare at Crowley’s body. He licked his lips as if he were looking at a big slice of cake. “You look scrummy,” he had the nerve to say.

Crowley groaned in embarrassment. “That’s not what people say during sex!”

Aziraphale smirked. “Like you would know better than I.”

Crowley glared, although considering his cock was out, he probably didn’t look very intimidating. He decided to ignore him and look down instead, and he almost moaned at the sight of Aziraphale’s hard, flushed cock leaking fluid onto his stomach. Crowley wanted to bury his face into the softness of his stomach, but then looked down farther and realized just how thick his pale thighs were. If he weren’t fully hard already, he would have become so now.

Aziraphale wrapped his arms around his neck. “Like what you see?” he asked nervously.

Crowley nodded frantically. “Wuurrfuhh.” That made zero sense. “Wonderful.”

Aziraphale kissed him soundly. “You’re sweet.”

“Am not,” he denied reflexively, but there was no venom to it. His cock was so hard it hurt, and he was so aroused he felt like he was far drunker than he really was.

Aziraphale brushed his hair back from his forehead. “I thought we’d never have this.”

Crowley shut his eyes, breathing heavily. “Angel…”

“I’m only saying that I’m grateful,” he said softly. “For our new freedom, and for you, for waiting for me.”

Crowley opened his eyes and his heart clenched. He would have waited forever. There was no way he would have ever stopped wanting Aziraphale. The idea that Crowley would have ever rejected Aziraphale once he came to him was impossible. “Can I touch you?”

“Yes.”

Crowley made his fingers slick with a thought, and they were trembling when he put them down there. He was a demon, but he couldn’t even put what he was doing into words, because soon his fingers were actually inside Aziraphale, and he was going mad. He never came untouched before, but watching Aziraphale tilt his head back on the sofa and moan was dangerously close to doing the job. He was learning how to do this with each thrust of his fingers, and he would repeat a motion or an angle when Aziraphale would moan louder. The thought that he was made to please Aziraphale entered his head, and later he would kick himself for being so unbearably soppy, but his cock was too hard for any reflection at the current moment. He could feel how hot the inside of Aziraphale’s body was against his fingers, and shivered in anticipation at the thought of his cock feeling that.

“C’mon, love,” Aziraphale tugged on his shoulder, chest heaving.

Crowley obeyed immediately, removing his fingers and lining himself up. He lowered himself on his elbows so he could kiss Aziraphale as he entered him, and they moaned into each other’s mouths. 

“Oh, oh shit, oh fuck,” Crowley swore, eyes widening and hips stuttering. It was hot and tight. “Are you okay?” he asked. “Does it hurt? Should I—?”

“I’m fine,” Aziraphale panted. “Move, darling, please.”

Crowley whimpered at the pet name. He was engulfed in heat and his thighs trembled as he pulled back and thrust back in, and then his arms wrapped around Aziraphale’s soft middle and he buried his face in his chest. Aziraphale’s leaking cock brushed against his abdomen with each thrust, and he felt his moans vibrate in his chest. Crowley smothered kisses into his sweat-damp skin, pleasure building as he thrust rather unsteadily into him. It was clumsy, but Aziraphale was still moaning and even petted his hair, so Crowley kept going. Aziraphale’s gasps were music to his ears, so arousing that it caused his own moans to sound like hisses. He, admittedly, sort of babbled into Aziraphale’s chest, telling him how beautiful he was and how good he felt and how he was so happy to have him. Tingling pleasure swirled around his tip and slid down to his bollocks. Crowley’s eyes stung, because it was too much, Satan, it was too much. His mouth dropped open and he moaned loudly, desperate for release, desperate to make his beloved bastard feel so, so good.

Aziraphale’s fingers moved from his hair to the side of his face. “Look at you,” he said in amazement, grasping his chin and putting his thumb inside of Crowley’s mouth, against the swell of his tongue. “What did I, oh, do to deserve you?”

He moaned around his thumb and shook his head, sending his hand away. “Shush,” Crowley hissed, and nuzzled his nose against his jaw. “Don’t say stuff like that. I love you.” He sucked in a breath through clenched teeth, his whole body trembling and sweating. “Aziraph-phale,” he whined. His hair was being petted again and he let out a soft cry, hips snapping. His heart ached, completely unequipped to deal with how much he utterly adored Aziraphale. “Is it good?” he asked genuinely. “You feel good?”

“Yes,” Aziraphale said, his free hand clutching the back of the sofa, knuckles paper-white. “You’re doing well, darling.”

Crowley bit his bottom lip with a whimper, a bead of sweat rolling down his temple. He moved his body upward so he could stare down at Aziraphale, whose eyebrows were knitted together in ecstasy. He fumbled and reached down to grasp his cock, and watched as Aziraphale’s eyes rolled into his head and his back arched off the sofa.

“I love you,” Crowley told him again, a lump in his throat. “I, nugh, I really love you. No, look at me, please,” he said when Aziraphale’s eyes closed.

Aziraphale opened his eyes and they glistened, dark blue and impassioned, his breaths ragged.

Crowley could have let out a sob at how perfect he was, but just managed to hold it back. He loved that he was allowed to do this, that they were sharing something unique to which their affair in the past could not compare. It was different now. It was better. “Luh-” he turned his head to the side as a particularly prominent ripple of pleasure ran through him. “Love you.”

His wide eyes were shiny. “I love you too. You always took care of me.”

“I always will,” Crowley promised him, feeling love constricting his chest and creating bubbles of—of joy. He was happy. God, it had been so long since he was truly happy. The bubbles fizzled and turned his heart into liquid.

Aziraphale’s breath hitched, and then he was spilling onto Crowley’s hand and clenching around him. “Crowley!” he gasped, throwing a hand over his eyes. “Oh, ah!”

Crowley couldn’t have lasted a second longer even if he tried. He shouted as he came, pumping into Aziraphale and shivering like a newborn lamb as he collapsed as a tangle of limbs on top of him. His hips gave one last little jerk and he was spent, catching his breath into the warm, damp crook of Aziraphale’s neck. If his breaths resembled sobs, neither pointed it out. He pulled out and miracled the mess away with a blink. “I love you,” he told him again. “I love you so much and it feels so good to say it.”

Aziraphale sniffed, and there was a suspicious wetness to the quality of his breathing, too. “It does,” he said, voice just a hint scratchy from the moaning and groaning (fuck, that was sexy). He hugged Crowley to his chest, taking slow, deep breaths. “That was exactly what I wanted, my love.”

Crowley lifted his head, relieved. “Really?”

Aziraphale smiled sleepily. “Really. Thank you.”

“Shh,” Crowley nipped his cheek playfully.

Aziraphale chuckled lazily. “You’re so affectionate.”

“Only for you,” Crowley nuzzled his cheek, kissing away the moisture he found there.

“You know what?” he asked quietly but brightly. “This is better than before. I, I’m still going to be looking over my shoulder for danger, mind you. Old habits die hard. But we’re free to be together. No more fear.”

“No more fear,” Crowley repeated, kissing him on the lips and thanking someone that they could really, truly do this now, uninterrupted, unwatched, unguarded. 

When they pulled back, Aziraphale traced his finger delicately over his lips. “Your smile is gorgeous.”

Was he smiling? No surprise. “You’re just high off sex.”

“Smile for me more often,” he pecked his upper lip. “And laugh more. You’re a dear like this.”

“Fiiine,” he rolled his eyes theatrically, and then yawned. Wow, sex was tiring.

Aziraphale waved his hand and an old blanket was over them. “When we were together before,” he murmured, “I always wanted to hold you as you slept.”

If Crowley weren’t already red all over, he would have blushed. “Angel,” he said in faux irritation. He put his head on the arm of the sofa next to Aziraphale’s, breathing in the scent of his messy curls. He was so happy he could have passed out from it. He was probably about to.

Aziraphale turned his face, kissing him gently on the forehead. He hugged him tighter, giggling softly. 

“What?” Crowley asked through a yawn.

There were crinkles around his eyes as he grinned sweetly as honey. “I’m just thinking, you know, our relationship was the best time of my life, and now it’s going to happen again without stop. The beginning of the new world is looking rather lovely.”

Crowley wondered why God made an angel so perfect at controlling a demon’s heart. He thought about how at ease and complete he felt with Aziraphale, and only with Aziraphale, and conceded that maybe She had one good idea every millenia or so. Or six. “Yeah,” he said thickly. “Y-yeah. Good. Good observation.” He winced. What a dumb thing to say.

But Aziraphale only sighed happily, eyelids fluttering shut. “Get some sleep, dear.”

Crowley yawned again and closed his eyes, humming tiredly.

“You’ll need your energy when I top you in a few hours.”

Crowley’s eyes shot open as a laugh was startled out of him, and he pinched Aziraphale’s cheek when he saw him smiling smugly.

“You bloody bastard,” he snickered. 

“I’m only saying,” he said, smugness not diminishing in the least. “That did seem to take a lot out of you, and I want you in tip-top condition when you’re taking me.”

“Aw, Heaven, Aziraphale,” he hid his face with his hands, but smiled into his palms at Aziraphale’s warm chuckles. Crowley still couldn’t believe an angel was teasing him about sex, but this was his life now. It was fucking fantastic.