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Intimate Looks

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The problem with falling in love with things on Earth is that God had designed the universe to be made up entirely of fleeting pleasures. A well-crafted piece of clothing could be cared for and mended, but like everything these days, fashion moved ever faster, first in manufacture and then in style. Elastics for example were such a welcome invention, and yet they aged and yellowed, losing their shape in brief decades. And lace, oh. Lace frayed, unraveling all the quicker when crocheted by machines and not tied by clever fingers and a hook.

Perched on a queen anne chair in the small room he kept above the shop, Aziraphale reattached a button to his waistcoat. The thread stood out a bit, newer as it was than the rest of the buttons, but it’d settle in with enough wear and be nigh indistinguishable. He passed the needle through a few more times and then once more before knotting the thread and clipping it neatly.

The fabric beneath his palms was plush and soft as he smoothed it over his lap to judge his handiwork. Eventually the foxing on the velvet would spread to the point that it would be best to retire it entirely. While he enjoyed seeing new patterns and colors and designs enter the world, he never did like that changing times left a perfectly good garment tired beyond its function. Slipping back into his waistcoat's comforting embrace, he did up the buttons, patted the one newly reattached, and then drew on his coat to examine the outfit in the mirror. Good enough for at least another year or two, he wagered.

Dressed properly, he was about to descend and open shop when from next door, the screaming began.

*

Crowley met him at the park. Or rather, happened upon him at the park in the sort of oddly convenient run-in that occurred often enough lately that left Aziraphale wondering if Crowley had taken to lurking around places he frequented. Surely it couldn’t be that difficult to ring him up and ask him to lunch or tea or what have you instead of, well, whatever this was.

“So why is it you aren’t at your shop?” Crowley asked, falling into step alongside him.

Aziraphale waved away the dark cloud that lingered around him. It wasn’t Crowley he was cross with, after all. “Someone new is moving in to the property next door. Pity that another bookshop has gone out of business, but what’s worse is the new owners feel the need to fully renovate the interior. It’s a constant cacophony of screaming saws and thundering jackhammers. I needed to get away.”

Crowley shrugged as if endless banging and screeching wasn’t all that much to fuss about, which, maybe it wasn’t if one had spent time living with the howling of the damned at all hours.

“As if that alone isn’t atrocious enough, investors have been crawling around the block going on about underutilized retail space and eyeing my property. It’ll take a miracle to keep them away. A real one, and I’m trying so very hard not to abuse my powers.”

“You could start making sales. Those aren’t penny books you’re hoarding, angel.”

Aziraphale was aghast. ”I wouldn’t even know what to charge. Most of them are priceless.”

“So why not just keep them all as a private collection?” Crowley stopped briefly at a cart to buy a bag of spiced nuts. As they resumed walking, he tipped the bag towards Aziraphale who took one gladly.

“That would be absolutely gluttonous,” Aziraphale said. “Or covetous. I’m not sure which, both probably, so no…. No, I couldn’t.”

“As if Heaven ever understood your keeping shop. They don’t even have a reason to care anymore! Just keep your library with all its extradimensional space and secret rooms and tell the estate agents to bugger off.”

“I don’t have any secret—,” Aizraphale began, but Crowley’s eyebrow slid upwards rather acutely. He pressed his lips together. “Well it doesn’t matter. And I already tried telling the fellow handling the space next door to go away. Twice in one morning. He gave me his card, can you believe it? As if I’d ever sell the place.”

“Let me see that.” Crowley snatched it from Aziraphale, trading the card for the warm bag of roasted nuts. He held it up to read it, then tipped his head to look down his nose at Aziraphale. “I could give him a ring if you like, maybe go round to his place of business and pay him a little visit.”

“Would you?” Aziraphale immediately felt better. He nibbled on another nut. “If you could have a word with him, I’m sure it would help. Maybe you could ask them to have the foreman keep the construction to a reasonable window.”

“I’ll ssssee what I can do, angel.”

*

Crowley, it seemed, could not do much.

Aziraphale endured three more days in a row of high-pitched grinding and thuds and teeth-rattling banging which began promptly at eight o’clock in the morning and lasted through the afternoon. Needing to yet again escape the noise for a bit, he popped on over to Crowley’s flat to complain.

“On the upside, no one who has wandered into the shop has stayed for very long,” he told Crowley as he was welcomed inside. “On the downside, your chat with the estate agent appears to not have done any good at all.”

“Well, I’m really not in the habit of doing good,” Crowley said offhandedly.

“You know what I meant.”

“I’m sure it’ll be over and done with soon enough,” he said, as if Aziraphale wasn’t aware that architects and construction companies and interior designers together made for some of the most Hellish delays imaginable.

“I wish I could share in your optimism,” Aziraphale said crisply. He gestured at the dozens of people milling about in Crowley’s sitting room. Odd to host a party in the middle of the day, but he supposed Anthony J. Crowley preferred to maintain a certain image. “Who are all your...guests?”

“Aspiring models, mostly,” Crowley replied. He peered at a waify looking gentleman strutting about in a pair of very short, very tight leather bottoms. “Though that one might just be here for the free food.”

“Models?”

“Yeah…. Thought it was high time I had a job again.”

Aziraphale ran down a list of human jobs he thought Crowley might enjoy dabbling in. “Artist? No, wait...talent scout?” he guessed.

“Something like that.”

“I’m sure you’ll be excellent at it, Crowley. You’ve always had an eye for quality.”

“Why thank you, angel.” Crowley’s gaze fell on Aziraphale and lingered there.

On the surface, it wouldn’t seem to be any different than any other fond look Crowley leveled at him, but in that moment, something distinctly shifted in the way Aziraphale interpreted that look. The tiny hairs along Aziraphale’s skin lifted like they were drawn by static electricity. He swallowed thickly and couldn’t help but recall that kiss they’d shared some weeks past; how tenderly Crowley had cupped his face, slim fingers light as feathers against his skin. A delightful warmth spread low in his belly, as if a little switch somewhere within him had just been flicked into the on position.

“Oh, she’s very flexible for a model,” Aziraphale remarked, pointing at a handsome woman who’d begun to demonstrate her ability to bend herself backwards. She placed her palms on the floor and extended one very long leg towards the ceiling. “Dear me. She ought to be in the circus. Can you do that?”

“Probably. And she’s already a performer of sorts. She dances.”

“Oh? Ohhhh,” Aziraphale’s voice dropped in register as he caught Crowley’s meaning. “Well, she must be very popular.”

“Very. Did you want a demonstration?”

“From you or from the young lady? You know, nevermind.” Aziraphale put a hand on Crowley’s arm before he could snap and make a pole or a bunch of banknotes appear. “Maybe another time, dear. ”

He stayed a bit longer chatting with Crowley (definitely not thinking at all about Crowley bent backwards in nothing but a few scraps of lace and a pair of heels) and eventually noticed how many of Crowley’s guests weren’t simply scantily clad so much as dressed solely in their undergarments. “Is this what passes for intimates these days?” he asked, gaze settling on a woman roughly his own size and shape who lounged on the sofa wearing a sheer bodysuit embroidered in key places.

“I suppose. Last I was paying attention was back in the early seventies.”

“Oh of course. The nipple bra. Clever, that.”

“Shorter lived than some of my other contributions to human history, but I’m still proud of that one.”

“Well, fashion has become a bit cyclical, I’ve noticed,” Aziraphale said. He gave Crowley an affectionate pat before companionably hooking his elbow through Crowley’s arm. “Jumpsuits are all over the place again these days and wide-legged trousers, it might be just the time for the nipple bra to make its return.”

Crowley’s mouth twisted thoughtfully at the idea. Around them, several people in the room had begun distinctly ushering the vibe from jolly to amorous. “Seems like an orgy’s about to break out. Probably best I get going seeing as I could use a spot of lunch,” Aziraphale said.

“If the construction’s a bigger headache, you’re welcome to stay. Spared no expense on the catering.”

“Well, maybe a touch longer,” Aziraphale said, plucking a small cluster of grapes off the table and gesturing to the growing pile of writhing bodies. “I do miss the old Rome sometimes. You don’t see a really good bathhouse in this part of the world anymore, do you.”

Crowley made an agreeable hum and dodged a pair of knickers that flew past his head. His expression slid towards curious. “You know, I haven’t had an oyster in ages. Can you still get decent oysters in London these days?”

“Oh, Crowley, it would be my pleasure to show you,” Aziraphale said, and popped a grape into his mouth with a slightly devilish smile.

*

The oysters were absolutely divine, and the bit of good sherry and lively discourse that went along with them were just what Aziraphale needed to pick up his spirits. Fortified, he headed into what promised to be a beautiful day even before he opened the bookshop to a glorious morning devoid of the sound of hammering.

That’s not to say it was quiet: A great deal of people were out and about for not quite ten o’clock. Nearly all of them stood clustered around the new shop next door. He recognized a few neighborhood regulars including the clerk from the juice bar across the way. “Morning Mr. Fell,” he said at Aziraphale’s approach. “Looks like you’ve still got some competition on the block. Word is it’s not going to be a perfumery after all.”

“Changed hands already?”

“Some big scandal erupted a few days past and the primary investor pulled out. I hear the new owner intends to keep selling adult books along with, some, err, expanded inventory for discriminating clientele.”

“Do you mean sexual devices?”

“Oh yes. The high end kind. You know, vibrators that look like modern art and fancy lingerie that starts at a few hundred pounds. Time for me to start stocking more crystals near the register, I’m thinking.”

“Well my selection of pornography is quite limited, so it’s good there’s still an option to be found nearby,” Aziraphale said. He clasped his hands together and he and the clerk watched as the workmen unveiled a freshly lettered sign.

“Oh damn, I was hoping for a more exciting name; the lads and I were making bets,” the clerk said. “They’ve only just changed the B to the L.”

“I don’t know,” Aziraphale said. “I rather like it.”

“Color me unsurprised, Mr. Fell. You’re a bit stuck in the past and not much for change.”

Aziraphale frowned. A bit stuck in the past? What was that supposed to mean? Books were timeless! He raised a hand to object when he spotted a bit of fraying at the edge of his shirt cuff. Adding insult to injury, the button there took an ill-timed tumble to the pavement.

The clerk stooped to pick up the button and pass it back to him. “If you’re not going to invest in a card machine, it’s at least time for some new threads, ‘s all I’m saying, Mr. Fell,” he said, and raised his eyebrows meaningfully before turning on his heel to finish opening the juice bar.

Aziraphale pocketed the button and eyed the still-papered storefront. He wasn’t sure he agreed with the man’s estimation of his outfit, but his undergarments were wearing a bit thin. He supposed it wouldn’t hurt to take a peek when they opened.

*

A few days later, approaching the weekend, Aziraphale received an invitation through the slot for his new neighbor’s “soft launch”. This was, he discovered, apparently a lot like a gallery opening, which is to say it was a thin excuse to get smashed and hope for a chance to rub elbows with some big names in modern society.

The interior of Intimate Looks was as aggressively modern as the sign, with its neutral slate grey floors and walls painted in bright pops of color, patterns, and murals that invited people to take selfies (ideally with a product in hand). In fact, there were already queues forming full of attractive, well-dressed people with their mobiles out and ready. Catering staff bearing champagne flutes and small bites circled aimlessly around the artfully arranged displays of sex toys, garments, and select erotica.

A sweet-faced young man in violet lipstick with matching nail varnish greeted him and offered a tray laid out with a variety of pronoun pins. “Welcome. I’m Tom,” he said, and juggled the tray as he tapped at the small pin at his own shirtfront. “If you have any questions about our selection of novelties, erotica, or bespoke items, please don’t hesitate.”

“Bespoke items?” Aziraphale said, interest piqued. He picked a pin out of the lot and went to fasten it to his lapel, then paused, not wanting to puncture the fabric. “Sorry, do you have something that clips? It’s vintage.”

A tiny flare of terror sparked in the young man’s eyes and Aziraphale hastily waved away the request. “Oh, nevermind. No need to worry. Would you look at that, it already has a clip. Must have been the one fortuitous mistake in the lot.”

“Oh brilliant! I’ll make a note to tell management to have both options available for future events.”

“Thank you, dear. Now you were saying?”

“Bespoke items, yes! We can help bring to life nearly anything your heart desires. We are fully equipped in the back for tailoring, corsetry, leatherworking, small-batch manufacture of penetrative toys molded or sculpted…. For anything we cannot produce on site or outside our expertise, we can help connect you with the right maker.” He’d clearly rehearsed the speech and delivered it all on a single breath.

“Sounds lovely,” Aziraphale said, accepting a nibble and a glass of champagne with a bright smile.

He hadn’t planned to stay, not really. There were the usual bits of uncomfortable looking leather with bright zippers and too many straps that he’d expected to find, but Tom suggested he take full advantage of the launch and tour the open studio in the rear. This was only a fraction of the merchandise, Tom assured him and pointed the way. Aziraphale thanked the young man and followed down a small side corridor into an entirely different show room of sorts. He emerged into a workshop full of fabric cutting stations, leatherworking tools, and all sorts of other equipment ready to be put into full production. Beyond a rack laden with notions and bolts of fabric was a large open space where people of all shapes and sizes milled about, modeling everything from latex fetish gear to fine corsetry to functional but shapely satin undergarments trimmed delicately with lace.

Some of the faces looked oddly familiar, but he didn’t think much of it, focused as he was on wondering just how nicely a bit of new satin would feel against his skin. And then there were the stockings. Oh, he’d loved hose back when men weren’t ashamed to show a bit of leg.

Another of the shop’s employees (handily outfitted in the same recognizable get-up as Tom) drifted towards him. “See something you fancy or would you like a private consultation?” their eyes flicked to his pin. “Mr….”

“Fell. Lovely to meet you,” he said. “A consultation? I suppose it wouldn’t hurt.” He’d employed many tailors over the years, but intimates that went beyond function had really only been around for a century or so. He’d bought off the rack every time for the sets he still kept in his wardrobe.

“Right this way, Mr. Fell. I think I have just the thing for you. I’m Nella.”

Aziraphale was led into one of several consultation rooms to the side. Decorated with the same bright accent colors as the rest of the space, it was done up a bit differently with remarkably accurate rococo furnishings and an extremely accurate hand-painted replica of The Swing hung on the wall. An elaborately gilded queening chair sat propped on a small dais in the corner opposite the dressing screen. Murmuring sounds of conversation filtered in as Nella closed the door and slid a hidden panel aside to reveal rows of garments in soft pastels and creams.

They pulled out a half dozen pieces and lay them on a table for Aziraphale. “Any of these catch your eye?”

“The craftsmanship is lovely,” Aziraphale said, running his hand down the boning of a waist cincher that was the same warm caramel as his waistcoat and a full corset in pale blue brocade. He liked snug and laces, but corsets were terribly restrictive.

“Nothing too tight?” they guessed.

“If it’s no trouble.”

“Of course not, Mr. Fell.” They took the corset and two other garments off the table, and started picking through the rack. “Do you have a preference for everyday wear or special occasion?”

Aziraphale hadn’t even considered the idea of a special occasion outfit. “Everyday wear, I suppose.”

“Close-fitting is all right, just not foundation garments?”

“Precisely. Nella, it’s as if you’ve read my mind!”

“Excellent,” they said, turning around and spreading a few more pieces out. “All of these designs would be suitable, although I’d consider this one in full stretch lace for a once-in-a-while treat. Suitable off the rack, but all of them can be made to measure and we of course have a wide selection of fabrics and colors available.”

The separates were all breathtakingly lovely and well-made, and he smiled a little to himself at Nella’s offer of a “special” piece to consider. Salespeople, always so devious.

“If you’d like to try any of them on right now, please,” they gestured to the changing screen. “I can also step outside for a few minutes to give you full privacy.”

Aziraphale almost declined, then his fingers drifted over a delicate satin and lace camisole with ribbon ties along the front. Maybe just the one…. “No need. I’m not the least bit shy,” he said, snatching up the camisole and disappearing behind the screen. He stripped quickly to the waist and oh, this was a fair step up from the tatty version he wore now. The garment had served him well for a good seventy-odd years, but embroidery could fix only so many holes along the seams, and the lace had been reapplied three times since.

“What do you think?” he asked, emerging. He ran a hand down his front and examined his reflection. Nella had been terribly good at eyeballing the fit. The ribbons tied into little bows were framed by a vee of lace, and the ivory satin jacquard with its pattern of roses had a lovely drape that shimmered like sunlight on water. The style itself was remarkably similar to what he’d come in wearing.

“It’s not my opinion that matters, Mr. Fell,” they said, but flashed a somewhat predatory smile and held up two more garments. “But you look smashing, and these would be the perfect accompaniments. Everyday bloomers that won’t disrupt the line of your trousers...and something a little more racy if you’re feeling frisky or have a special someone to impress.”

Aziraphale left the consultation room thrilled, dazzled, and also feeling a bit taken advantage of. The camisole now rested snug beneath his shirt, and he’d been measured for a whole host of underthings that were promised to be delivered to him at what seemed like an ungodly speed. He folded his bill of sales and tucked it in his coat pocket, ready now to get out of here before he was talked into purchasing anything else he hadn’t intended on.

Or, he was until he took stock of the room anew. Firstly, he was certain there hadn’t been a pole in the corner when he’d first come back here. Secondly, he’d know the bend of that back anywhere, with or without clothes on.

“Oh, Aziraphale,” Crowley called out. He slithered down the pole and unfolded himself, one leg descending before the other. His heels clicked as he spun around and dropped to the stage. “You showed up! What do you think?”

“I don’t think this neighborhood is zoned for um, performances,” Aziraphale commented, for lack of any other coherent thought. Everything else seemed to have fled straight from his mind and was already halfway across the channel.

Crowley hopped off the stage and wound his way through the folks milling about. “Well, who’s going to report me,” he said, and tossed a grin around at the chorus of ‘not me’ and ‘damn rights’. “See? Besides, bookstores hold events all the time. Open mic every Thursday, anyone?”

Aziraphale felt the crowd’s rippling horror, but all the guests were far too pretentious to admit they hated the idea. Which meant they’d show up every Thursday to willingly torture themselves, and damn Crowley for being so effective.

“Did Nella talk you into buying anything?” Crowley asked, slinging an arm companionably over Aziraphale’s shoulders and pointing from him to Nella before giving them a thumbs up. Crowley was dreadfully tall in the heels. It leveled his chest directly at Aziraphale’s eye line, where beneath the close-fitting mesh Aziraphale kept catching glances of the pert hint of Crowley’s nipple.

He politely averted his gaze as he answered: “A few things. One or two.”

“Good for them. Too late now I suppose as they’re on commisssssion, but next time: whatever you want, angel, it’s on the house,” Crowley said. He snagged two flutes of champagne from a passing tray in a single hand. He’d grown out his nails to a taper and done them up shining black with a splash of red here and there like arterial spray.

“I couldn’t dream of taking advantage,” Aziraphale said, taking the second glass from him automatically. As he did, his rebellious gaze skimmed down Crowley’s trim body: over the mesh clinging to him like a second skin, past the snug leather shorts with a bright red zipper disappearing between his thighs, all the way down to the wicked point of his Louboutins.

Absently, Crowley hummed an understanding sound as he sipped the champagne, but somewhere before managing to swallow successfully, he choked and staggered away a half step. He coughed and wiped his mouth on his arm, leaving a great big smear of lipstick below the divot of his elbow. He nearly spilled the rest of the champagne as he gestured between them. “Did you not mean the shop? You weren’t...referring to me, were you?”

“Sorry? What?”

“Cause you know you couldn’t possibly— I mean, if you— Did you—?” Crowley stammered, then seemed to realize he was making the sort of scene that very cool bookstore-slash-sex shop owners did not make and just grabbed Aziraphale by the neck, spat out “Oh fuck, why not,” and kissed him instead.

Aziraphale barely had the presence of mind to kiss back. But he managed, he thought, after emitting a muffled sound of surprise that had come out sounding a bit like, “Ngrk!”

“This is not that kind of party,” Crowley hastily warned the room when he peeled his lips off Aziraphale’s. He swiveled around to stare down the guests who had a certain gleam in their eye as he took hold of Aziraphale’s hand and dragged him towards the rearmost corner of the room for a bit of privacy. “One orgy this week is enough. I’m not paying extra for cleanup.”

“Crowley,” Aziraphale said, composing himself. He tried very hard to put his thoughts in order as he was ushered into the corner, but Crowley slapped a hand to the wall beside his head and stood very close, and there wasn’t much to distract him from the fact that they were mere inches apart. If that little tickle of warmth had started smoldering in him some days ago in Crowley’s flat, by now it’d worked itself up into a merrily flickering flame.

Except…. “This shop is larger than it ought to be,” Aziraphale remarked. He glanced down at his shoes and then over Crowley’s shoulder towards the front of the building.

“Made some modifications of my own to accommodate the side rooms, no additional hammering required. Should I have gone for two miraculousss levels worth of basement storage instead?” Crowley asked archly, and at Aziraphale’s pinched expression added: “Oh, don’t play innocent, angel. You can feel the draft if you stand near the poetry volumes. Now stop avoiding the subject. Are you hoping to take advantage of me?”

Aziraphale looked up at him. “Are you hoping that I’m hoping to take advantage of you?”

A shiver visibly rippled across the bare skin of Crowley’s shoulders. “If you’re ready and willing to hit this because of a pair of leather hotpants and some heels, angel, I would’ve pole danced in front of you ages ago.”

“It’s not that. Though it’s not not that either. You were very good! In any case, do you mean to say right now?” Whatever little switch inside him that had flicked on, was—ahem—very firmly on. Aziraphale had possibly never been more tempted by anything in his entire existence. “But you can’t possibly leave your own party, you’re the host!”

“No one worth knowing stays at their own party,” Crowley said dismissively, and before he’d finished the sentence, Aziraphale was already reaching down behind him to find the doorknob that definitely hadn’t been there a moment ago. He pulled Crowley through the door (which did not match the modern aesthetic Intimate Looks was cultivating in any way) and into a very convenient little passage that led directly into his bookshop’s back room.

*

They made it up the stairs to Aziraphale’s private quarters, or nearly. “It’s just occurred to me that I don’t have a bed!” Aziraphale exclaimed, pivoting on the landing. Being two steps up placed him back at Crowley’s eyeline wherein it was clear that Crowley saw this as not an insurmountable obstacle.

“Floor?” Aziraphale proposed, but he’d kept these knees in excellent condition for millennia and that sounded like it might cause rather a lot of wear-and-tear. He glanced at the chair and then at Crowley, who shrugged as if willing to make do with just about anything up to and including the window sill. “Chair then, excellent. What do you say to you being astride me? I’ve given it a great deal of thought in the past week.”

Crowley looked as if he wanted to say something snarky about the relative lengths of time in which both of them may or may not have been harboring carnal thoughts, but he simply drew in a deep breath. He caught Aziraphale’s hands when Aziraphale had begun to undo his waistcoat with abandon. “Slow down. You’ll lose a button.”

Heart thudding, veins thick with a dizzying rush of hormones, Aziraphale felt that in this moment he didn’t really mind reaffixing yet another wayward button, but how sweet of Crowley to look out for him. Something in his chest squeezed tight to recognize the many, many times in their acquaintance that Crowley had gone out of his way to sidestep Hell’s rules for Aziraphale’s benefit. A thought came winging to him from the similarly deviant portion of his being. “Would you care to undress me?”

“Angel, it would be my pleasure.”

Aziraphale straightened and summoned the wherewithal to hold himself poised as if Crowley were a valet ready to attend to him. It was by equal measures the most difficult and also the easiest thing in the world to welcome Crowley’s attention. He ached to reach out as Crowley gave him a long once-over, the breath going stale in his lungs as Crowley stepped in close, fingers flaring out as he drew his palms up from Aziraphale’s hips and over his waist as if to savor the moment. He shifted to running his knuckles over the front of Aziraphale’s waistcoat and slipped one long finger beneath the leaf.

Gooseflesh rose along Aziraphale’s skin and his breath fled him as Crowley’s finger slid down his front and the deft flick of his thumb undid each button. Crowley tongued the point of a tooth as he pushed the waistcoat off Aziraphale’s shoulders and slid it free of his arms, but instead of folding it neatly he tossed it over the nearest towering stack of books that wobbled up from the floor.

Aziraphale didn’t even protest, he was too keenly attuned to the space between them, and of Crowley (his special someone!) uncovering each layer of his garments. He turned his wrists up to reveal the buttons at his cuff and then raised his chin, awash in the sort of leisurely decadence of having someone attend to his dress that he hadn’t enjoyed in a very long while.

His eyes gleamed as Crowley took care of his bow tie and his shirt in turn, then rocked back on the point of a heel to observe the way the satin draped and clung to the curves of Aziraphale’s body. “Camisole. Very nice choice,” Crowley remarked, syllables carrying the breadth of his lust. He lifted the edge of a tiny ribbon bow with the very tip of his nail. “Have you always been wearing one under this shirt? Got it wrong in Heaven then. Always figured you for a vest and shorts.”

“You’re not the only one who likes to mix things up occasionally,” Aziraphale said, a touch defensively, then aimed a significant glance down towards his trousers.

A hint of skepticism clung to Crowley as he dropped down into a low squat, his thighs spreading obscenely outward as he helped divest Aziraphale of the rest of his clothes. A whole new rush of heat went through Aziraphale when he stood before Crowley in nothing but bare feet and lingerie.

Crowley remained on his heels, the sulphur of his eyes burning behind the rims of his glasses, a bright yellow that nearly matched the tiny golden flowers embroidered on Aziraphale’s knickers. They didn’t quite match the new camisole, but Crowley hardly noticed; he seemed transfixed by the erection pinned snugly beneath the lace. “Aziraphale,” he said finally, “how long have you had a prick?”

“Almost three thousand years now!”

“How do you like it?”

“Oh it suits me, don’t you think?”

“Think I’d like a better look,” Crowley said. He hooked a fingertip in the waist of Aziraphale’s knickers. “May I?”

“Please.”

Crowley pulled them down a bit, not off, just enough to expose half the length of him. “Astride you, you’d said,” he murmured, gaze transfixed.

“So long as you’ll enjoy it. I know that these days larger is more desirable, but—”

“It’s beautiful, angel.”

“Oh really?” Aziraphale beamed.

“Really,” Crowley said, and reverently placed a kiss upon his flesh.

Briefly, Aziraphale thought he hadn’t given enough thought to the idea of Crowley knelt before him. How wonderful it would be to have Crowley free him fully and take the whole of his cock between those red-stained lips, to lick and suck at him with single-minded purpose. He might lift away Crowley’s glasses and enjoy watching the way his lashes trembled as Aziraphale used his mouth.

But no, not this time, he still wanted most ardently for Crowley to be atop him, that clever mouth free for kissing and with every opportunity for his hands to roam. Aziraphale pushed the band of his knickers down far enough to leave himself entirely exposed and took a seat on the chair, settling in with a little wiggle. His teeth were on his lip as he beckoned Crowley to him, who stood to his full height with utmost grace and undid the zip on his shorts, first at the back and then reaching between his legs to pull the tab forward. He’d kept his cock tucked tight between his thighs, and it unfolded slowly to hang heavy and thick as he came to straddle Aziraphale’s lap.

“It’s my job to stay desirable,” Crowley said, when Aziraphale raised an eyebrow.

“You haven’t had to tempt a soul with the ‘sins of the flesh’ for centuries,” Aziraphale said, dropping quotes in the air before taking hold of Crowley’s hips and guiding him just where he ought to be.

“Well, my hobby then,” Crowley mumbled. The wry slant of his mouth shifted towards a soft O as he sank down onto Aziraphale’s cock with unholy ease.

It was different than laying with a human. Not in the way that the heat of Crowley’s flesh welcomed him nor the press of bone and muscle against his thighs, but he could feel Crowley’s essence just beyond all those fragile trappings of form, a pure force of raw energy that crackled like lightning.

He shivered under the assault that swept across his senses. Where on the Earthly plane he enjoyed the wet perfection of Crowley rocking atop him, his handsome cock stiffening up until the heat of it dragged against the front hem of Aziraphale’s new camisole until Aziraphale couldn’t resist tucking its thick length into his fist. Where the wooden back of the chair creaked under Crowley’s grip and the faint tap of his heels echoed when Aziraphale’s hips rose to meet him. Where they kissed hard and hungry. And beyond, in the unknowable spaces between universes, that lightning sizzle of Crowley’s essence mingling with his, bleeding into the spread of his wings until they flared with a unseeable brilliance and birthed new stars.

In that small private room above the bookshop, Aziraphale kept a hand flat at Crowley’s back, thrilled by the rhythmic flex of his spine, by the evidence of his pleasure spilling warm between them. He sucked marks through the mesh of Crowley’s top, a scatter of red to meant to linger. How glorious it would be to stay joined like this for days on end, to watch Crowley fall apart in his embrace a dozen times and then a dozen more.

As if he could sense Aziraphale’s desire, Crowley gasped and arched backwards, supported by the dig of fingers at the low of his back and let the long line of his body be devoured by Aziraphale’s gaze. Time warped around them, not of Aziraphale’s doing, and maybe not even consciously of Crowley’s. Regardless, it held them in a little bubble of ecstasy for longer than it should have, kept Aziraphale on that shivering burning edge of his own orgasm with a delicious cruelty.

When the moment broke it fell to pieces, glittering and beautiful like the scatter of a raindrop blown across a windowpane, and then they were finding their way to one another with trembling hands and shaky kisses.

“Maybe we can do this again some time,” Crowley suggested after long minutes, the tone of his voice aiming for casual, but he’d taken to gripping the front of Aziraphale’s camisole and the way his hips still moved in small fitful motions said he was loathe to stop even now.

The fire in Aziraphale’s belly had banked, leaving a lingering warmth that filled every bit of him with loving fondness. He stroked his hands down the length of Crowley’s back and over the spread of his legs, fine hairs tickling against his palms when he ran them in the other direction. “Perhaps I could pop by for a visit when my new undergarments come in. Wouldn’t that be a treat for the both of us, to have you undress me again?”

Crowley made a satisfied—if a touch surprised—hiss, as if he’d been prepared to wait a great deal longer for another opportunity to come around. He remained in Aziraphale’s lap a while longer, making quiet sounds of contentment at the way Aziraphale caressed him. Eventually, he slipped away, standing and setting himself to rights again.

Having forgotten how messy sex often was, Aziraphale was about to cluck his tongue and lament about sending such a new piece out to be laundered when Crowley snapped his fingers. “Good as new,” Crowley said, and turned his head to look over his shoulder at the stairs. “Care to rejoin the party?”

Aziraphale stood and checked his outfit in the mirror. The two entirely different patterns of lace worked well enough together, but the camisole really would look best with stockings. Maybe even paired with a well heeled shoe. He refused to totter around in the sort of blatantly uncomfortable heels Crowley wore, but something along the lines of a nice 18th century-- Oh, if only he’d kept some around instead of succumbing to the comfort of modern footwear.

“Will you wait for me to put some stockings on?” he asked, opening his wardrobe, and what would you know, resting on the bottom were just the shoes he’d been thinking of.

Crowley didn’t say a word, but he watched with measured patience, and when Aziraphale was ready, he held out a hand to lead him down the way they’d come.