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Ineffable Cravings

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Crowley sauntered up the cement stairs with a backdrop of the usual London traffic. He opened the familiar portal, accompanied by the subtle chime of a bell, and stepped inside. A peer through his tinted sunglasses- they shouldn’t have inhibited his demon eyes any, but he liked the effect- showed a landscape of dust, books, globes, books, and books.

It all seemed a little much for Crowley. He could appreciate the ingenuity and usefulness of the information stored in the vast array of tomes, but he also personally felt them somewhat futile with the human’s new invention of the internet. Of course, Aziraphale had always been unusually set in his ways, and his love for the combination byproduct of ink sacs, dead trees, and the human mind was no different.

The demon roamed further into the shop, and the floor creaked a greeting under his leather shoes.

“Hello? Anybody home?” he called through the forest of knowledge. The sunlight filtering in from a window high on the wall glittered across dancing dust particles, as if the particles themselves had been startled off the resting place of the shelves around them.

Crowley frowned. Aziraphale was normally in at this time, and there was evidence that today was no different, except for the distinct lack of the angel being anywhere in sight.

“Hello?!” he called, louder this time. A moment later there was a resounding thud from further in the little shop, followed by a groan. Crowley hurried to the sound, assuming the worst.

He found Aziraphale halfway under an old wooden desk nestled into the corner. The angel seemed to be nursing his head and muttering under his breath. Crowley sighed.

“What the hell are you hiding under there for?” Crowley asked, crouching to the level of the other figure. He watched Aziraphale’s eyes widen briefly and his head jerk back in surprise, only to be connected with the hard desk above him once more.

“Well now look what you’ve done,” Aziraphale said mournfully, rubbing his head again. “You can’t sneak up on people like that, Crowley.”

Crowley rolled his eyes, and Aziraphale narrowed his own in displeasure, despite him having no way to actually see Crowley’s eyes through the glasses.

“No really, why are you hauled up under the desk here. Looking for dust mites or something?”

“Well for starters,” Aziraphale said, carefully crawling backwards before finally freeing his body from the trap he’d put himself in. He sat on the floor, relieved. “It’s none of your business. And second, I-I dropped my pencil.”

Crowley made a face. “Of course it’s my business, everything of yours is my business.”

Aziraphale stood and brushed off his knees. “Well, perhaps you should learn to not meddle in others’ matters.”

Crowley followed suit and straightened the way a cat stretches. “I’m a demon! Meddling is what I do!” He crossed his arms.

Azirphale cleared his throat and tugged at his his jacket. “Right.” he began to arrange some things on the desk. “Well, meddler, you’re back awfully soon aren’t you? What’s it been, only a week now?”

“I was bored.” Crowley shrugged. “Life gets a lot more boring when you’re not stuck trying to think of creative ways to get out of doing things you’re supposed to be doing.”

“There’s a lot of irony in that statement.” Aziraphale said, still shuffling. He wouldn’t look at Crowley.

“And tell me what hasn’t been ironic about all this?” Crowley said. He arched an eyebrow.

Aziraphale sighed. He turned from his distraction, but his eyes remained trained to the side. “Depends on how you would define ‘all this’ I suppose.”

Crowley took a turn about the bookshop and let his gaze wander. The brown backs of ancient volumes, the bright red of a series he hadn’t seen in there before, a little table and couch where he’d made memories. It was nice seeing them all not on fire. That had been too close to home.

“Oh, you know,” he said with a flourish of his hand. “The end of the world, the people within it, how it was stopped. That sort of thing. Humans are inherently ironic if you really think about it. The Almighty must really be cackling her head off somewhere up there.” Crowley’s head tilted towards the white ceiling.

His gaze fell back on a fidgeting angel, coat and brow wrinkled. “Now, what’s got you all worked up? I haven’t seen you this anxious since you had to fudge your sword paperwork.”

“Oh! Um.” Aziraphale’s face snapped up and fell again. His eyes were darting like a gnat. Finally they settled on Crowley’s face- which probably was made up of odd twists, popped lips, and a half smirk at this point- and Aziraphale opened the dam. “Oh, in Heaven’s name I really can’t lie to you!” he flailed. “Crowley, I wasn’t under the desk to look for a pencil.”

“Well yeah, obviously,” Crowley said.

“No, I was under there due to a sudden instinct to hide. I heard you, and this body moved before my essence could keep up, and- and there I was.”

Crowley’s face darkened. “You ran from me?”

“No!” Aziraphale cried. “No, not exactly. I would never- I’m not afraid of you. I simply ran from the concept of confronting you.”

“Confronting me?” Crowley took a step forward. Aziraphale, intentionally or not, took a step backward. “About what?”

“Ah, well.” Aziraphale licked his lips. His eyes were aimless bugs again. “This is what I was afraid of,” he said through a weak smile.

“Angel,” Aziraphale flinched as the word slipped through Crowley’s teeth, harsher than he’d meant. “What are you hiding from me?”

Aziraphale backed up a bit more until he hit the hard edge of the desk behind him. “I suppose there’s no running from it now. Why don’t we do this over a spot of tea, or maybe scotch?”

Crowley threw up his hands and strode to the faded corduroy couch. “I’ve got all the time in the world.”

Aziraphale gave him a stunted smile before hurrying into a back room.

***

When the angel returned he came upon the rare sight of Crowley reclined with an open book in hand. Aziraphale placed a clear bottle and two round glasses on the table. “I thought you might like that one,” he said, cheeks stretching into a smile instinctively.

Crowley glanced over his sunglasses. “Hm?”

Aziraphale nodded in the other’s direction. “The book.”

“Oh this?” Crowley sat up, placing the book aside. “I was just looking at it for the pictures.”

“But Crowley, that one doesn’t have any-”

“So, Aziraphale. What are you not telling me?”

The last part was said in such a way that made Aziraphale’s heart lurch with guilt. He uncapped the bottle and poured the two cups nearly to the brim. Aziraphale sniffed at the brown liquid and he made a face at the smell.

“I’d been saving this for a special occasion you know.” He swirled the glass and took a sip, as was etiquette, and tried not to scrunch up too much.

“That’s what you say every time. Now get on with it,” said Crowley. He snatched up his glass and savored his own swig.

“Right, right. I would say it all started during the apocalypse,” said Aziraphale.

“Really? Big shocker there.” Crowley’s voice dripped with sarcasm.

Aziraphales lips curled in together. “Do you want me to tell you or not?”

“No no, please go on.” Crowley waved his hand up at the wrist.

Aziraphale took another, longer drink, and savored the internal burn it inflicted on his body.

“It started at the apocalypse, when the antichrist boy split me and the woman apart.” He rotated the glass and glanced up at Crowley, who was watching him intently. A breath, then, “When I returned to a corporeal form, something… something changed. The antichrist said, ‘Return to being two people again.’ and I, I think it had an effect.”

Crowley was leaning forward now. “What are you getting at?”

Aziraphale sniffed and bit his lip. “Oh I do wish you’d waited to come in before I could think of how to say this better. I…” He took another sip, he felt his cheeks heat. “I’ve been having cravings. Like a human.”

Crowley’s cheek twitched. “Cravings? What sort, like junk food? That’s weird for an angel, but not so much for you. You’ve been eating for 6,000 years.”

“That’s what I thought at first too,” Aziraphale said. “After that I ate my way through every exotic delicacy London has to offer.” His cheeks turned pinker. “But the hunger, so to speak, was never quelled. I did some studying of Maslow’s triangle and such and came to a conclusion. This was no craving for foods. This was a hunger of a passionate design. This was the flaming desire, the untamable beast, the thirst for sensation. This was libido!”

Crowley’s teeth bared. He was chuckling, a sound that would have been more welcome in any other situation. “It’s not funny! I’m truly suffering over here!” Aziraphale cried.

Crowley took off his sunglasses to wipe at his eyes. “You mean to tell me, that you went to all this trouble, all this stress and avoiding me, because you’re horny?” He threw his head back and laughed harshly.

Aziraphale pouted and drank more of his glass. “This isn’t fair. Do you know how hard this was for me to admit? I’m supposed to be an angel! A pure being! Not, not possessing a mind full of things that I- Not possessing thoughts like these.”

“Oh drop the modesty. Sex wasn’t something to be ashamed about until the middle ages, and you know it. It’s a natural part of being human.”

“Yes, Crowley, I know. But it’s not a normal part of being an angel.”

“Well, nothing to be too worried about. It’s something that can fade with time, I mean, look at Monks, they can’t be tempted into anything. Shouldn’t be too hard. It’s not like you really have what you need to accomplish anything… right?”

Aziraphale finished his glass and warm buzz tingled through his veins. “That’s just it. After some further investigation, I found this body to possess more… equipment than the last.”

Crowley’s smile was disbelieving. “You had to investigate to find whether you had a dick or not?”

Aziraphale’s eyes widened. “Crowley! Bite your tongue! And for your information I had been discorporeal long enough to forget the feeling of my old body, and I don’t exactly undress to sleep. It’s too inconvenient. Anyway, stop making fun of me, I’m in a truly sticky situation here.”

More laughter from the demon. “No, not yet, but you will be when you figure out how to make your willy work.” Crowley’s glass, Aziraphale noted, was empty now too.

“I can’t believe you! Making such vulgar jokes at a time like this. And you wonder why I was afraid to tell you in the first place.” Aziraphale turned up his nose.

Crowley giggled and stretched out on the couch. He turned his head and propped up on a pillow, gazing at Aziraphale with those golden eyes of his. “That’s true, I should try harder to play the part of the best friend, shouldn't I? Well, if you’re so worried about it, my advice would be to find a human partner. That’s what I do- did. There are plenty out there who’d jump at the chance to be with a gentleman like you.”

Aziraphale felt a sharp pain in his chest. His hand flew up to clutch at his vest. “Crowley, you’ve..”

Crowley turned his head to the ceiling. “It wasn’t really… It was for work purposes. Temptation of the flesh and all that. I haven’t done it in a long time.”

“Oh, I see.” Azirpahale looked down, the air was suddenly stifling.

“That doesn’t mean it can’t still be fun though!” Crowley sat up quickly, his hair still half squished, his eyes manic slits. “Don’t knock it ‘till you’ve tried it, you know? Maybe you’ll find someone nice. You used to watch the humans more in the early days.”

Aziraphale sighed and folded his hands together. “That’s what I’m afraid of, Crowley,” he said in sober tone that did not reflect his physical state.

“What?”

“That’s what I’m afraid of. You know why I stopped growing close to humans, right?’

“Because colonialism wasn’t a great look for them?”

Aziraphale held his hands so tight his knuckles turned white. “Because eventually they all die.” Tears sprang to the angel’s eyes.

“Oh,” Crowley said.

Aziraphale pulled a folded handkerchief out of his pocket and dabbed it around his eyes. “Pardon me. Perhaps this new body has heightened emotional responses as well.”

Crowley puffed air through his nose. “No, you were always like that.”

The angel stood and stretched briefly. He glanced at a little clock on the wall. “Well, look at that. It’s closing time already. Time flies, doesn’t it?”

“Certainly.” Crowley mumbled. He was leaning over the arm of the couch now, tracking Aziraphale’s movements with his eyes. Always watching him.

Aziraphale ambled to the front of his old shop and turned the sign under the curtains on the door to the ‘Closed’ side. His hand rested on the cold bite of the door handle.

“I suppose you should probably head off before it gets too late.”

“Mm, time is a feeble concept thought up by old men who had too much of it,” Crowley said from behind him. His words were slurred.

“That’s true, and you probably shouldn’t be driving in such an inebriated state.” A soft smile crept its way onto Aziraphale’s face as he locked up and turned around. “Why don’t you stay here for the night. You seem tired enough as it is.”

“I don’t need ssssleep, I jussst enjoy it.” Crowley expressed the best he could.

“And I don’t need to eat, but I enjoy it.” Aziraphale wandered back towards the couch and gazed with such a swelling fondness in his heart for the drunk demon that he felt like he might burst or spill over at any moment.

“And you don’t need to have sex, but you will enjoy it.” Crowley smiled coyly up at him. The angel’s own smile vanished.

“Crowley, I can’t do that. You know I’m too sentimental to be close with anyone I don’t love. Even with such temptations, it would break my heart to have to watch… to have death’s cold hands…”

“There’s always immortal beings,” Crowley smirked.

Aziraphale shuddered. “And who I would go to, Gabriel? Michael? God, herself?!”

Crowley sat up suddenly, yellow eyes stark against flushed skin. “You think of them before me?”

Aziraphale stopped. His heart beat through his chest. His gut clenched. “I beg your pardon?”

“Oh, don’t pull that rubbish with me, Aziraphale. All this talk about love and I don’t even come up before bloody Gabriel!” The demon’s hand shot out and grabbed at Aziraphale’s. It burned him, and he flinched away. “Or do you really think of me so little? After everything we’ve been through?”

Crowley looked like he was about to cry, of all things. Aziraphale made a mental note to never have serious conversations like this when there was alcohol involved.

“What? Of course not! I just assumed… You said yourself you were just my best friend! You’re- you’re not thinking straight. Sober yourself at once, or I’ll do it for you.”

Crowley’s hands whipped out again and he successfully ensnared one of Aziraphale’s in a cage of rough fingers and palms. The point of contact shot fireworks up the angel’s nerves in a way that he’d never thought possible before.

“Angel, if that’s the case, then I haven’t been thinking straight for six thousand years. Ever since I saw you in the garden. I’d never seen anything more beautiful in my life. You never disappointed me, you never ceased to surprise me, and in a world of rotten immortal beings and short lived humans, you are the light among them all.”

His eyes blazed so intensely yellow, Aziraphale couldn’t breathe. He was overflowing. They both were.

“The Almighty had a real sick sense of humor planning for a demon to fall in love with an angel, you know. Even more so if you didn’t feel the same way. Though I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t.” Crowley’s hands slipped away and Aziraphale suddenly felt very cold.

“Don’t say that. You know I do.” Droplets spilled from the angel’s eyes and he snapped his fingers. The scotch bottle was full again.

“Mm, I was waiting for you to do that,” Crowley said, considerably less loopy than before. He dragged a hand over his face. Aziraphale felt his own mind clear a bit, though there was still a rainstorm brewing inside him. It was just less fuzzy around the edges.

Aziraphale’s smile was watery and sad as he said, “There, thinking a lot more clearly now, aren’t you?”

“Clear enough to do this!”

There was a blur, a sudden yank on Aziraphale’s coat, and their lips were connected. Aziraphale’s eyes nearly bugged out of his head. After a moment of thick tension, he felt his muscles relax as Crowely’s arms snaked around him and he melted. The initiator broke first.

“I love you Aziraphale, and I want you to say it back, so I can show just how good falling to temptation can feel,” Crowley growled. His gaze seared like red hot irons. If Aziraphale hadn’t known Crowley better, he would’ve thought the demon was using black magic on him. But this was his best friend, his partner in crime, he’d known him for six thousand years, and he was the love of his life.

“Crowley, I love you.”

They collided back into the most ironic kiss that God could have planned for.