Aziraphale wasn’t sure what he expected after the apocalypse-that-wasn’t.
In some ways, he thought that he and Crowley’s relationship might change. That there might be a declaration of love, or feelings, grand and loud and messy, and that they’d finally run off together. Instead, the time after the thwarted end of the world was quite similar to the time before it.
They continued to see each other, perhaps a bit more than before, but not by much. Aziraphale enjoyed it nonetheless. Whether they dined out, fed ducks in the park, or spent the evening in his back room drinking, time with Crowley was time well spent.
He just wished he could figure out why the demon held a constant line of tension that hadn’t been there before they thwarted the end of the world. Or why Crowley sometimes paused and looked suddenly so out of place among the books and other comforts that made up Aziraphale’s home. It puzzled him, but the answer remained just out of reach.
Instead of asking, Aziraphale tried to make his space one Crowley might like. He knew the bookshop was cluttered, but perhaps if he made it a bit more cozy then some of that tension might finally bleed from the demon’s shoulders.
One afternoon he nipped out to a department store and purchased a couple ridiculously soft blankets in red and black, reminiscent of Crowley’s scales. He also picked up a few soft, squishy throw pillows to make the otherwise barely comfortable chaise in the back of the shop a little more luxurious.
The items seemed to have their intended effect, as one night of drinking ended with Crowley bundled up in blankets and pillows, asleep on the lounge. It was progress, and Aziraphale deemed it a success.
Crowley stuck around the bookshop more during the day, even when they didn’t have plans. Aziraphale didn’t mind, as the demon’s presence was generally good for his desired business, which was a lack-thereof. Something about the demon lurking about corners and peering over shoulders of would-be buyers managed to put the majority of them off.
The ones who seemed unperturbed were the lucky few Aziraphale would consider selling to.
With prolonged proximity naturally came touch. Aziraphale couldn’t help himself after a millennia of hemming it all in as yearning simmered just beneath his skin. He liked to squeeze Crowley’s shoulder whenever the demon perched himself on a flat surface to scroll through his phone and enjoyed gripping his forearm to tug him over to look at a new tome.
Sometimes Crowley flinched and that strange, lost look returned for a split second before it disappeared and was replaced by his attempt at an easy smile. Aziraphale would back off then, keeping touches light and infrequent, almost playful at times like when he flicked Crowley’s nose when he pulled a face upon Aziraphale making the suggestion that they ought to try yoga in the park one day. He’d heard about it at the local coffee shop when picking up the roast Crowley liked and thought it sounded interesting.
One night they were both settled on the chaise when Crowley, tipsy on red wine, shifted over and leaned into Aziraphale’s side with a sigh. Aziraphale’s arm fit around his waist naturally, like it was second nature, this thing that he’d imagined thousands of times over thousands of years. They had a moment of peace before Crowley went a bit rigid and the ease of drink disappeared from his face.
“It is all right, my dear,” Aziraphale whispered as he squeezed Crowley around the waist. “We’re safe now, surely you know that?”
Crowley made a miserable, uncertain noise in the back of his throat, eyes trained on the floor. “Everything I’ve wanted is right here,” he admitted quietly, “and I keep picturing the book shop on fire, keep remembering that you were gone . Aziraphale…”
“Shh, darling, hush now,” Aziraphale gathered Crowley up in his arms at the first sign of tears falling down pale cheeks. “I have you. I’m right here. I won’t leave again.”
Crowley tucked his face into the curve of Aziraphale’s neck and wept softly for a time, while Aziraphale rocked him gently back and forth in his embrace. Oh, how he wished there was something, anything he could do to take away Crowley’s pain. When the demon finally relented and the grip he had on the back of Aziraphale’s waistcoat eased, Aziraphale took the chance to press a soft kiss to the crown of his head.
He wanted to tell him he loved him, to finally say the words that burned at the back of his throat for centuries. But he couldn’t. Wouldn’t. Not yet, not when Crowley was so uncertain. They’d find the right time eventually.
“Crowley dear,” Aziraphale started one day as they meandered through St. James Park. Winter had set in, the clouds grey and bleak. Aziraphale wore his favorite coat with a fake-furred collar, fluffy and warm. Crowley insisted on wearing a thick leather jacket with a snake patch on the arm. He looked cold, but glanced over at Aziraphale inquisitively.
“Might I hold your hand?” Aziraphale held out his own, “I’d quite like to.”
Color rose to Crowley’s cheeks immediately. It was one way to make the demon warm, at least. Crowley glanced down at his hand, then back up to his face, as they crawled to a stop on the walking path.
“Yeah, alright,” Crowley replied, only slightly uneasy as he reached out and took Aziraphale’s hand.
“Oh Crowley my dear boy, you’re cold,” Aziraphale fussed as he laced their fingers together and tugged Crowley close.
“Angel…” Crowley huffed and squeezed his hand. “Maybe I wouldn’t be so cold if you’d keep walking.”
“Of course.” Aziraphale smiled, pleased as he squeezed Crowley’s hand in return, marveling over the way his long fingers fit so perfectly between Aziraphale’s shorter ones. They continued their leisurely meander through the park and held hands the entire way back to the bookshop.
The idea of a cottage emerged after a night of drinking, as most good ideas do. Crowley, swathed in blankets on Aziraphale’s chaise complained about how London had changed since the end of the world was averted. Aziraphale didn’t necessarily agree, as he thought there’d been no more change over the past year than there had in the years preceding, but he decided to make an opportunity of it.
“What about the countryside? The sea?” Aziraphale always fancied the sea with its temperamental waters and rocky cliff faces. “We could get a cottage. A little thing for the two of us.”
It certainly tripped Crowley up in his ranting as he peered at Aziraphale from over the edge of a fluffy red blanket he’d pulled over half his face. It didn’t hide the high flush of his cheeks which Aziraphale idly admired as he waited for a reply.
“Cottage.” Crowley appeared to consider this, glassy yellow eyes sliding shut for a long moment. Aziraphale watched, waited, and enjoyed the lightheaded sensation alcohol gave him.
“Yeah, alright.” Crowley’s eyes opened again and he appeared to have sobered up some. “If you’re serious.”
“As a heart attack, my dear.” Aziraphale enjoyed Crowley’s eye roll.
For two supernatural entities, buying a cottage was simple. They offered cash above and beyond the asking price which delighted the real estate agent and the aging woman who owned the cottage to begin with.
“She’s an old thing like me,” Barbara, the owner, insisted when she arrived at the cottage to oversee the final paperwork. She didn’t need to be there, but had said early on in the process that it gave her something to do at a time in her life where there wasn’t much. Aziraphale adored her and may have offered a few miracles to ease her arthritis for a time.
“But she’s got good bones,” Barbara continued, “and I’ve taken care of ‘er. She’ll treat you well if you treat her well, boys.”
“We will.” Aziraphale squeezed her shoulder while Crowley put his name down on the paperwork, “I promise.”
Barbara leaned in then, tugging Aziraphale down so she could whisper in his ear, “you should marry him, love. I see the way he looks at you. Nervous and smitten. You should take care of your man, you hear? Take it from this old woman.”
Aziraphale was certain he was blushing and a nervous laugh escaped him. “Yes, yes, of course…”
She gave him a curious look. “You love him, yes?”
That was the question of the century, wasn’t it? The thing that had been begging to be let out of its cage for centuries. “Yes,” Aziraphale whispered.
Barbara winked at him. “Tell him.” She let Aziraphale go and when he glanced over, Crowley was in a conversation with the real estate agent, but clearly had been keeping one curious eye on Aziraphale and Barbara.
He offered Crowley what he hoped was a reassuring smile and Crowley’s lips quirked up into a soft smile of his own.
Moving into the cottage proved to be a challenge. Apparently when you’re over 6000 years old and trying to combine lifestyles it could be difficult to compromise.
“Have you considered that you might not actually want this?” The words tumbled out of Crowley’s mouth one day in the midst of an argument about a sofa that Aziraphale had purchased. He’d been certain Crowley would like it. It was plush, indulgent, far more comfortable than the chaise, and Aziraphale had planned to relocate the blankets and pillows to it.
“The couch?” Aziraphale asked, a bit dazed by the argument.
“No,” Crowley growled and pinched the bridge of his nose before he gestured between the two of them, “this. Us. Together.”
Aziraphale’s heart leapt up into his throat and he suddenly felt ill. “Crowley-”
“No, Aziraphale.” Crowley began to pace across the hardwood floors, eyes trained moodily on the ground. “What if we’re just too different?”
Ah, so certainly not about the couch then. Aziraphale glanced at it as if he could blame it for their current woes before he looked back to Crowley and took a few steps forward. “I don’t mind our differences. Quite the opposite, really. And if you don’t like the couch we can return it and get something else…” He trailed off, momentarily resisting the urge to reach out and grab Crowley, to stop him from moving back and forth.
Crowley said nothing, which was generally unhelpful. Instead, he huffed right out of the room and into the kitchen, presumably heading toward the glass sliding doors. He had a proper flower garden out back, and a greenhouse to tend to during the colder months. Aziraphale let him go, gave him a five minute break before he followed.
He found Crowley in the greenhouse grumbling to some peonies that, from what little he could hear, were not nearly vibrant enough in color.
“Crowley,” he said it softly, fondly. His heart swelled as nervous eyes flickered over to him and then back to the peonies. Crowley’s shoulders slumped in defeat and Aziraphale took it as the invitation it was. He crossed over to Crowley, let his hand slide down along his spine as he leaned in and press a kiss to his temple.
“You know, dear boy, I quite -”
He was cut off by Crowley’s hand over his mouth, yellow eyes pleading. “Aziraphale, please.”
But I love you. Aziraphale wanted to say it, burned to say it. But there was an inexplicable fear in Crowley’s eyes that stayed his tongue. He nodded his head in ascent, in agreement, even as something in his chest constricted painfully. Crowley’s hand fell away and he stared intently at the flowers.
“I want you here with me,” Aziraphale murmured, reaching out to take Crowley’s hand in his, grateful when Crowley allowed him to lace their fingers together. “Or I will go wherever you are.”
Crowley nodded and they lapsed into silence as the demon tugged on his hand and led him quietly around the greenhouse.
Aziraphale got rid of the couch and brought the chaise from the bookshop with its blankets and pillows. He found Crowley curled up on it that evening sound asleep.
It puzzled him. For so long it had been Aziraphale who needed things to go slowly, always thinking about how their interactions might look to their superiors. He’d not said it to be cruel, only to be realistic: Crowley went too quickly, and with haste came mistake and with mistakes came hell fire and holy water.
But that was then. Now, after the apocalypse, they were beholden to no one except themselves and now it was Aziraphale who appeared to be going too fast. Was it so much to ask for, wanting to finally be able to show Crowley explicitly just how much he’d loved him all these centuries?
It made little sense, but he did his best to show his love. One way or another, he’d figure out the key to making Crowley feel safe enough to accept it even if it took centuries to do it. Crowley was worth the time, and what was time to immortals anyway?
They picnicked under the stars late one night, about a year after they moved into the cottage. Crowley’s idea, which Aziraphale had been more than happy to go along with. He’d found a spot in their back garden flat enough to lay out a large, soft blanket. In the basket was a bottle of wine and an assortment of meats, cheeses, and crackers.
Crowley enjoyed the wine while Aziraphale made sure not to waste the assortment. He knew Crowley had nipped out earlier in the day to purchase them from a local deli and Aziraphale appreciated the effort.
Well into their cups, a bottle of wine emptied and refilled, Aziraphale startled when Crowley tugged him closer. He went willingly as he set his wine glass on the grass, Crowley mirroring him so he could bring his hand up to Aziraphale’s jaw. He wasn’t sure what to expect, his heart beating frantically in his chest, but he hoped.
Crowley’s lips brushed his and Aziraphale’s heart lurched to a stop as every bone in his body fought against the urge to lean forward and consume the demon. He’d waited so long for this, for Crowley to let down his defenses, to get something more than a brush of fingers or a hug (though he treasured those). A desperate whine came from somewhere and Aziraphale realized too late it had been torn from his own throat when Crowley tilted his head to deepen the kiss.
“Please,” Aziraphale murmured against his lips, “may I touch your hair?”
Crowley huffed, amused, his breath a warm puff against Aziraphale’s lips and chin. “Yes, angel.”
Aziraphale pressed in for another kiss as his fingers slid into Crowley’s hair, delighted by the soft, silky feel of it. His fingers curled and tugged ever-so-gently, drawing the sweetest, softest whine from Crowley. He fought the urge to lead, letting Crowley take it instead as his tongue teased against Aziraphale’s lips. Aziraphale opened his mouth, welcomed the warm, wet touch as his fingers trailed down the back of Crowley’s head to rest on the nape of his neck.
Crowley tipped them over, pinned Aziraphale down to the blanket beneath him. He was covered on all sides by Crowley , his best friend, his love , as their lips crashed together a bit desperately and with a sudden edge. Aziraphale made an uncertain noise as Crowley’s fangs nipped into his lower lip a little too hard and Crowley went rigid, still as the night except for his gentle panting. His lips hovered above Aziraphale’s, eyes shifting from lustful to fearful in an instant.
Crowley backpedaled, scrambling off of Aziraphale and onto the grass, knocking his wine glass over in the process. He trembled, just enough for Aziraphale to catch it in the light of the stars and the moon.
“It is all right,” Aziraphale assured him, shifting up onto his knees, sitting back on his haunches. Crowley stared at him, eyes luminous against the darkness around them. “Come here, Crowley,” Aziraphale insisted, “tell me about the stars, hm?”
There needn’t be anymore kissing, or touching, or anything that would send Crowley scampering off. Curiosity ate at Aziraphale as he wondered what inspired Crowley into a fit of affection in the first place, but he kept the questions to himself. He also buried the frustration and the hurt, the confusion over why Crowley had such hang-ups now when for so long he’d pursued Aziraphale.
Crowley scooted back onto the blanket and flopped onto his back, head tilted so he could meet Aziraphale’s eyes.
“What scares you?” Aziraphale asked, despite deciding a moment before that he wouldn’t. Crowley grimaced and looked back up at the stars. “You clearly wanted something tonight, my dear. You set this whole lovely thing up. What’s frightened you?”
Crowley reached up to the sky and then clenched his fist as he exhaled sharply. “I helped design the cosmos. She was so proud. I was nothing but a child to Her, scribbling on paper, painting with watercolors, but She loved me.”
Aziraphale watched Crowley’s eyes slide shut as his hand fell limp on the blanket. “Sometimes I feel it, angel.” His voice was quiet, as if he did not want to draw unnecessary attention. Perhaps he didn’t. Aziraphale half-glanced up at the sky nervously.
“Love.” Crowley swallowed, Aziraphale watched his Adam’s apple bob. “You feel it all around you, everything, everywhere. That’s what angels do. I sort of remember it, but when I’m with you…” His breath hitched and Aziraphale watched a trail of tears leak from the corner of Crowley’s closed eyes. “I feel it again, Aizraphale. It is overwhelming and wonderful and terrifying.”
Oh. It was an interesting mix of feelings that jostled around in Aziraphale’s mind just then. Guilt, worry, more guilt, a twinge of pain at the realization that he loved Crowley too much, to the point it actively frightened his best friend in the entire universe. As he worked through them he came to the final, empty conclusion that he was helpless. How could he fix this? Could he fix it?
“I’m so sorry, I didn’t realize.” I didn’t realize how much I’d been hurting you all this time when I was just trying to love, was what he wanted to say, but now he actually did keep his thoughts to himself as he wrapped his arms around his middle. The night suddenly seemed colder, darker, harsher.
“Aziraphale?” The question in Crowley’s voice had an edge of concern as a hand reached out and touched his cheek. “You’re crying.”
“Ah, yes, I suppose I am,” Aziraphale sniffled as he turned away from Crowley’s touch. “I didn’t realize, dear boy, how much I frightened you. I didn’t intend it.” The tears were hot as they slid down his cheeks, a hollow ache in his chest fueling them. I should have stayed away , he thought.
“No, angel,” Crowley’s arms wrapped around him and pulled him close. “I said it was wonderful ,” he said as he buried his nose in Aziraphale’s hair and hugged him. “Terrifying and wonderful, it is hard to take it all in sometimes but I don’t want it to stop.”
Pain and yearning curled like steam around Aziraphale’s chest as he turned and buried his face in Crowley’s shoulder. They stayed like that for what seemed like eons. Aziraphale matched his stuttering breaths to the steady rise and fall of Crowley’s chest against his own. Crowley’s fingers danced idly through the curls on the back of his head and down through the short hairs on the nape of his neck, comforting, gentle.
“What can I do?” Aziraphale finally asked as he curled his fingers in the back of Crowley’s shirt.
“Be patient with me.” Crowley stroked a spot behind Aziraphale’s ear with his thumb.
“Heaven knows you’ve been patient with me for so long, I think I can manage that.” He’d be patient until the world actually ended if it meant he could love Crowley.
“Did you ever memorize the constellations?” Crowley switched gears and told stories about the stars as they lay curled together on the blanket and Aziraphale tried to keep his ever-growing love contained within a very human heart.
They took a trip to the United States late in the winter and ended up in New York City where a book trader insisted they had a tome that Aziraphale had to add to his collection. Aziraphale intended to go alone but Crowley had insisted on accompanying him, even as they did it the human way. Aziraphale sprang for first class plane tickets.
The trip went surprisingly well and after looking over the book, he decided to make the purchase. It took a day or so to arrange shipping and the two were set to head back to England when a nor’easter hit. The city was blanketed in a foot of snow and the pair were stranded, flights cancelled and rescheduled for three days later.
Thankfully there was a room miraculously still available at the Madarin Oriental hotel where Aziraphale originally booked their stay. Expensive, but what was expensive to two immortal beings who until a couple of years ago had earned steady earthly paychecks with very little to spend them on?
From their room they could see the treetops of Central Park and Aziraphale thought the city looked rather fetching covered in a blanket of snow. Crowley, who lurked at the window near him, glowered at it all. Perhaps it was his serpentine nature that detested the cold, despite being tucked away in a luxuriously warm hotel room on Aziraphale’s dime.
Aziraphale reached out to put his arm around Crowley’s waist, tugging him into his side. Crowley went willingly, leaning his slight weight against Aziraphale’s far sturdier vessel. They’d gotten better at this over the past few months, touching without being overwhelming. It was slow going, sometimes to Aziraphale’s frustration, but Crowley warmed to his gentle touches.
Safe, Aziraphale reminded himself. That was what they always aimed for: to feel safe in a world that continued to throw them for a loop.
“‘Zira,” Crowley mumbled and nosed shyly at his ear. Aziraphale waited a moment for him to continue, but he didn’t.
“Hmm?” He turned his head to brush his lips to Crowley’s forehead.
“There’s a huge bathtub and piping hot water.” Crowley tilted his head and Aziraphale gave his forehead another kiss. “Join me?”
This was a new offer. For all their time together they’d yet to be skin-to-skin outside of hands creeping beneath shirts and lips brushing against necks. It sounded like paradise, to be submerged in warm water on a cold winter day with Crowley in his arms. But a part of Aziraphale ached with the fear that it would be too much, as things often were .
“Please, angel.” Crowley’s fingers toyed with the buttons on Aziraphale’s shirt. “Let me?”
“Of course.” How could he say no?
Crowley slowly unbuttoned Aziraphale’s shirt. Neither of them were as dressed up as usual, too put-off by delayed flights and poor weather. Aziraphale kept a dress shirt on, with slacks, and an undershirt. Crowley had remained in a faded Queen shirt he liked to wear to bed and a pair of sweatpants.
The buttons were undone and he slid the shirt down Aziraphale’s arms and allowed it to drop unceremoniously to the floor. Aziraphale made a dismayed noise and caught Crowley’s smirk.
“You’re a fiend,” he huffed. Crowley grinned and leaned in to press an appeasing kiss to Aziraphale’s jaw before he untucked the undershirt and made to yank it over Aziraphale’s head. He lifted his arms and Crowley pulled it up and off, allowing it to fall to the floor like the other shirt.
Out of instinct, Aziraphale reached out to run his fingers through Crowley’s hair but was stopped with a hand around his wrist and bright yellow eyes peering at him. “Let me, angel,” Crowley said with a rumble to his voice, “let me…” he swallowed, “be the one to touch you.”
Oh. Aziraphale visibly shivered and Crowley looked up at him, eyes eager and bright and just a touch nervous. He realized very quickly that Crowley was waiting for permission.
“Yes.” He breathed out slowly as Crowley’s hands made quick work of the fastenings on his trousers.
“You made an effort,” Crowley pointed out as his fingertips traced over the bulge there and Aziraphale made an undignified noise.
“Habit,” Aziraphale insisted, “the trousers don’t fall quite right unless I’ve got it.”
Crowley allowed Aziraphale's trousers to fall carelessly to his ankles and grinned, “they seemed to fall well enough.”
“Crowley!” Aziraphale groaned and pinched the bridge of his nose. But then Crowley’s fingertips crept beneath the band of his briefs and tugged them down slowly until they joined his trousers. He was exposed and his hands twitched, begging for something to do even as he held himself back from it. Crowley would lead this, and lead he did as he nudged Aziraphale to step away from his discarded clothes. He stilled once more, standing stark naked in the middle of their room as Crowley’s eyes trailed over him.
He resisted the urge to turn away, to hide. His stomach did a little flip. Then Crowley’s hands, warm and curious, palmed his hips. One hand slid to the back and trailed over the curve of Aziraphale’s ass, gripping, massaging, thoughtful. Then the hands were gone and Crowley stepped closer, their bodies a mere inch and a half away, Aziraphale’s hairs on end over it as he yearned for more touch.
Crowley leaned in, mouth right beside his ear. “I’m going to go draw the bath.” He grinned like the infernal beast he was and turned to scamper into the en suite. Aziraphale heard the sound of splashing water soon after and groaned to himself. The damn demon was a menace.
“Angel,” Crowley called a moment or two later and Aziraphale crossed the room and couldn’t help but smile. Crowley stood shirtless by the tub which was rapidly filling with steaming water, his sweat pants barely clinging to the prominent bones of his hips. He turned and regarded Aziraphale with that same nervous-excited look in his eyes.
The humid air smelled like lavender and Aziraphale peeked over at the tub to see what appeared to be the remnants of a bath bomb dissolving.
“Did you purchase that?”
“No, I stole it,” Crowley smarted and rolled his eyes. “Yes. While you were off picking up stationary, I found an underground shopping area. There was a Lush. Seemed like a good idea. Wasn’t sure I’d get a chance to use it…”
They had a rather generous tub back at the cottage, but they hadn’t used it together. Perhaps they could swing back by and pick up a few to take home.
“You’re rather overdressed for the tub, my dear.” Aziraphale glanced at the sweatpants pointedly.
Crowley shifted from one foot to the other. “Get in the tub. You can tell me if the water needs to be hotter.”
Aziraphale studied Crowley’s face, looking for an ounce of reluctance in the event they needed to call this whole experiment off. Instead, while Crowley looked a bit uncomfortable his gaze kept dragging over Aziraphale’s naked body in a way that was decidedly more confident than he would have anticipated.
“All right, all right.” Aziraphale carefully stepped over and into the tub, sinking down slowly. “Oh, Crowley, this is lovely.”
“The temperature is fine?” Crowley reached over to the tap to shut it off.
“Absolutely.” Aziraphale leaned back into the edge of the tub and draped his arms over each side of it. “Come, there’s room for you right here.” He lifted one hand and patted the top of the swirling purple water.
Crowley smiled, cheeks red with a blush as he pushed his sweatpants over his hips. He’d made an effort, too, and Aziraphale’s eyebrows raised reflexively before he politely averted his eyes.
“You can look, ‘Zira.” Crowley stepped over into the tub and sank into the water, settling between Aziraphale’s legs with his back to his chest. Oh, the weight of him was wonderful as he settled and Aziraphale leaned forward to press a kiss to the back of his head.
“Hello, love,” Aziraphale murmured fondly, and Crowley leaned to rest his head back against Aziraphale’s shoulder.
“Hello,” Crowley replied, eyes sliding shut. One of his hands managed to find one of Aziraphale’s and he laced their fingers together on the edge of the tub.
All their points of contact stood out like beacons to Aziraphale, new and warm and comforting. He inhaled the sweetly scented air and then exhaled, leaning his head back against the edge of the tub. With Crowley’s weight rested gently against him, Aziraphale relaxed.
Aziraphale stirred from what must have been a light doze, because he felt a bit stiff and the water had cooled. “Hm?”
“You fell asleep,” Crowley smiled, pleased. “Normally that’s my wheelhouse.”
“I was comfortable,” Aziraphale offered, by way of explanation.
“Mmhm.” Aziraphale squeezed their still-joined hands. “I enjoy being this near to you.”
Crowley scoffed. Aziraphale let it go. Then, “would you wash my hair?” Crowley’s voice sounded so uncertain, as if he believed he was asking something beyond Aziraphale’s capabilities.
“Absolutely.” He’d accept any excuse to touch Crowley’s hair. Aziraphale reached up with already damp hands and carded them through bright red locks. He scrubbed his fingertips against Crowley’s scalp, eliciting a series of shivers as Crowley’s eyes fell shut.
He gathered more water into his hands and returned to his task of slowly wetting down Crowley’s hair, disinterested in losing this contact to get him to dunk his head under water. No, he’d much rather do this, run his wet fingers through Crowley’s hair time and time again.
When Crowley’s hair was damp enough he reached for one of the bottles of hotel shampoo and squirted it onto his hands. He lathered it up and then set to the task of working it into Crowley’s hair. Crowley’s head tilted forward and he made a soft, pleased sound as Aziraphale’s fingers sank into the task. He massaged the shampoo into Crowley’s hair, continuing to rub his scalp, and then slid his soapy hands to the back of Crowley’s neck to work his thumbs into the muscles there.
“Aziraphale…” It was one part whine, one part request to continue as Aziraphale ran his thumbs from the base of Crowley’s scalp to the base of his neck, then worked them back up in a kneading motion. He did that a couple of times, if only to watch Crowley’s entire form relax incrementally.
“This time, my dear boy, you’ll want to duck your head under the water and rinse.” He squeezed the nape of Crowley’s neck fondly. Crowley nodded and shifted away from Aziraphale to dunk his head under the water, fingers working to free his hair of the shampoo Aziraphale had dutifully worked into it. Once he appeared satisfied, his head popped back up and he scooted back to rest against Aziraphale’s chest again.
“Lovely,” Aziraphale couldn’t help but murmur as he pressed a kiss behind Crowley’s ear.
“Not the worst way to spend a snow day, eh?”
“Indeed. Should I order us some room service? We could have a lie-in. Watch the snow from above.”
“Yeah. I’ll go take a look at the menu.” Crowley stood up in the tub, all legs and lean muscle. Aziraphale’s gaze dragged over him and he didn’t try to hide it this time, appreciative of the curve of Crowley’s backside and the way the muscles in his thighs twitched when he realized Aziraphale was staring.
“Good view?” Crowley asked quietly, like the air had been knocked out of him.
“Very. Now be a dear and go figure out which wine you’d like to have.” He smiled and Crowley blushed and stepped out of the tub, grabbing an oversize towel to wrap himself in before he disappeared into the bedroom.
Aziraphale leaned his head back against the tub and repressed a soft groan.
Fires at the cottage were lit on a case-by-case basis, dependent completely on Crowley’s opinion about them on any given day. Sometimes he was perfectly fine with them, visions of hellfire and bookshops being devoured by flame far away. Other days, the flames made him uneasy and Aziraphale didn’t bother with them.
It was a cold February, stormy and temperamental. They’d spent a lot of time inside which was just fine for Aziraphale, but left Crowley restless. He tended to stay out in his greenhouse for hours even in the worst of it, when rain and wind lashed the glass enclosure. Aziraphale allowed it, though he sometimes worried about Crowley growing too cold.
On this particularly February evening, Aziraphale sat comfortably in front of a fire in one of the armchairs in the living room while Crowley presumably tended to his plants. He was deep in a new murder mystery a neighbor had recommended when he heard the sliding glass doors off the kitchen open and closed.
“Plants had enough of a pep talk today, my dear?” Aziraphale called out and heard Crowley scoff in reply.
“Hardly,” he said as he stepped into the room and shed his damp jacket, hanging it up on a nearby coat rack. “I got into a bit of an argument with the herbs. I think you’ve given them a bit of an ego.”
“Mm.” Aziraphale smiled to himself at the thought. They were lovely things, the herbs, even when they got a little wilted. He’d been trying to cook traditionally more often, particularly since they tended to entertain neighbors now and he couldn’t go around miracling things left and right.
Crowley stepped into his line of sight, stripped down to a t-shirt and dark jeans. He paused in front of Aziraphale long enough that Aziraphale glanced up from the book curiously. Crowley considered him for a long moment before he flopped down onto the floor and settled at Aziraphale’s feet. He rested his head against Aziraphale’s knee.
“Hello, love,” Aziraphale murmured as fondness welled up in his heart and he reached out to run his fingers through slightly dampened hair.
“Aziraphale?” Crowley asked, eyes closed as he pressed his cheek harder against Aziraphale’s knee.
“Yes?” Aziraphale rubbed his fingers into Crowley’s scalp and watched him shiver.
“I love you.”
The words hung in the air as the fire crackled from its place beneath the mantle. Of course Aziraphale knew Crowley loved him, but this was the first time he’d heard him say it . It caught him off guard and his fingers reflexively tightened in Crowley’s hair which drew a curious sound from the demon that could be explored later, when there weren’t declarations of love to consider.
“I love you too, Crowley,” Aziraphale replied, unsure of what else to say. It was the truth. He’d loved him for thousands of years and endeavored to love him for thousands more. He returned to petting him and bit back the desire to ask what had brought it on.
He was just grateful to finally hear the words at all.
“Can I stay like this for a little while?” Crowley glanced up at him.
“However long you’d like, darling,” Aziraphale answered. Forever, if you wanted, he thought but didn’t say.
Aziraphale returned to the cottage in the early hours of the morning, drained. Years spent living in the cottage meant they’d created social ties, and being an angel with social ties meant being available when things went wrong. The previous evening something had gone wrong.
Their aging neighbors, the Baileys, had been taking care of their wayward middle aged daughter and their eight-year-old grandson for about a year now. The daughter, Angie, struggled with substance abuse and mental health issues. She’d been doing well, staying clean, but apparently her ex had filed for custody of their child and the impending court battle rattled her.
Angie ended up being taken out of town to a nearby city, to a hospital there, by her father while her mother stayed home with the child. Aziraphale had gone to stay with Bea and the boy, Parker, to comfort them. The boy in particular make his heart seize with sadness as he appeared so used to it, somewhat unaffected despite his grandmother’s distress.
Aziraphale burned a few miracles to bring them a modicum of peace and stayed with them late into the night as Bea shared her fears.
He slipped into the cottage with a heavy sigh and hung up his coat, toeing out of his shoes. Crowley had always been better at being social than he was and he’d wished halfway through the night that they’d gone together. Instead, Aziraphale had insisted on going alone, not wanting to trouble Crowley.
Heading down the hallway he attempted to be quiet as he stepped into the bedroom and began to shed the rest of his clothes. He switched into far more comfortable pajamas, a button up and a pair of flannel trousers, and carefully maneuvered into bed.
“‘Zira.” Crowley mumbled it, voice heavy with sleep as he rolled over and draped an arm immediately around Aziraphale’s middle. He crowded close, warm nose pressed up against Aziraphale’s cold cheek. “‘Kay?”
“I’m fine, dear boy,” Aziraphale lied as he reached up and carded his fingers through Crowley’s hair.
“Liar.” Crowley breathed out and slid his hand beneath Aziraphale’s shirt, petting along his side.
Aziraphale marveled at how brave Crowley was when he was half-asleep and bathed in darkness. He closed his eyes and braced for the moment that Crowley would pull away, startled by too much love, or too much fondness. It was always such a hard line to walk and Aziraphale ached for it to be easy. He wanted to lose himself in Crowley, but he never wanted to push.
“You’re thinking too loudly,” Crowley said, his voice having shaken off the yoke of sleep. He continued to trail his fingers against Aziraphale’s skin.
“I’m sorry.” Aziraphale swallowed and flinched in surprise when Crowley’s other hand cupped his cheek.
“Aziraphale, look at me.” Crowley’s thumb stroked along his cheekbone.
He didn’t want to. Aziraphale sighed through his nose and finally opened his eyes, peering up at Crowley who had gently pushed him onto his back. Crowley’s smile was soft as he leaned in and pressed their lips together before he pulled back.
“What do you need, angel?” Crowley reached down and rucked up Aziraphale’s sleeping shirt, palm soothing over his stomach. “What can I do?”
“The things they go through in such short lifetimes,” Aziraphale began as he finally allowed the thoughts that had been marinating in his mind out, “they’re so terrible sometimes.” Of course they’d been through all of this before. The Baileys were hardly the first humans they’d grown attached to in the thousands of years they’d been on earth together. It spanned as far back as the beginning, with Adam and Eve and Aziraphale’s first tears shed over Abel’s body.
“And Bea, she loves her daughter. I could feel it. I think that makes the pain worse, somehow. To love someone so much and watch them hurt…” Aziraphale choked on the words as his eyes slid shut again. He fell silent.
“I can understand the feeling,” Crowley whispered as he leaned in and pressed a kiss to Aziraphale’s forehead, then to his temple, then the spot just above his ear, and so on, until their lips met again. “Let me help.”
“Anything, Crowley,” Aziraphale whispered. “Anything you’re willing to give I would take right now, my dear. I-” he stopped himself and looked away, eyes finding a spot on the wall to stare at through the dark.
“You what, angel?” Crowley took advantage of his turned head and pressed a kiss to the curve of his jaw.
“I’d quite like to be distracted.” Aziraphale left it at that, nervously finding Crowley’s gaze once more. Crowley hummed and leaned in to kiss him softly. Aziraphale lifted a hand to cup Crowley’s cheek but his wrist was grabbed and pinned to the bed. The simple action drew a sharp, surprised whine from his throat and he tried to reach up with his other hand to the same end.
Crowley broke the kiss and peered down at him, pupils widening as his grip on Aziraphale’s wrists tightened.
“Do you want to fight it?” He asked, voice low and breathy.
Aziraphale tried to squirm out of the grip and Crowley pushed him harder into the bed, using his weight and position to keep him there.
“Crowley…” Doubt crept in, followed by insecurity, which towed along a heavy dose of anxiety that he would push too far.
Crowley’s face softened. “It is okay Aziraphale,” he insisted, “let me distract you.”
“And if it becomes too much?” Aziraphale fidgeted, tested Crowley’s grip on his wrists again only to find it still firm, still pressing.
“For you, or for me?” Crowley asked with a smirk. “Because I think you’re the one we ought to worry about.”
Aziraphale shivered visibly.
“You’re safe, you’re mine,” Crowley leaned in and brushed their noses together. “You keep me safe, Aziraphale, let me return the favor hm?”
He relented, nodding.
“What’s your safe word, angel?”
Crowley had been careful and kind when he bound Aziraphale’s hands to the slats of the headboard. Now, he squirmed against them, the silky rope pressing into his skin as Crowley pressed open mouthed kisses to his chest.
“Crowley are you certain?” Doubt lingered, despite Crowley’s insistence. The demon growled against his skin and shifted up to hover over him. He peered down and Aziraphale gazed up and flinched as he saw fire in Crowley’s eyes.
“I’m a demon , angel,” Crowley insisted, voice low as he reached down and gripped Aziraphale’s chin just roughly enough that Aziraphale couldn’t help but whine. He used the grip to push Aziraphale’s head up as he leaned down and pressed a kiss to his frantic pulse. “I know a thing or two about this,” his teeth scraped over sensitive skin, fangs threatening and alluring all at once.
Aziraphale whimpered and closed his eyes.
“I can handle a bit of sex.” He pressed kisses into Aziraphale’s skin from his throat to his ear. “And I love you,” he whispered far more tenderly, “I want to watch you come apart. I’m safe, you’re safe.”
Perhaps Aziraphale worried too much. A lot had changed since the end-of-the-world-that-wasn’t, and they’d worked hard to establish trust, and safety, and what it meant to love and be loved. In the midst of it, Aziraphale had lost his place in it, so wrapped up in protecting Crowley that along the way Crowley had grown, too, and he’d missed it.
“Okay,” Aziraphale whispered.
Crowley’s tenderness melted back into a hard mask as he smirked and showed off the points of his fangs, “when I’m done, you won’t know anything except that you belong to me, angel.”
Aziraphale lost track of time. They could have been in bed for fifteen minutes or for days, he wasn’t sure and he didn’t think he cared. His sleeping shirt, unbuttoned and mussed, was parted and Crowley had covered his chest and stomach in lovebites. Even now he worked at one on Aziraphale’s hip, worrying the skin between kiss-swollen lips that Aziraphale could barely make out in the dim morning light.
His trousers and pants had been tossed somewhere across the room and he’d made an effort, one that Crowley took advantage of and exhausted. Aziraphale’s head lolled to the side as he stared at the blinds over the window as he tried to recount how many times he’d come.
Too many to count, he supposed, his mind nothing but a cloud floating through a bright blue sky. Every muscle in his body simultaneously ached and relaxed. He had no more strength, no more energy, and he’d stopped fighting against the bindings around his wrists ages ago. All he could do was accept whatever it was that Crowley wanted to give him, and apparently the demon had been set on giving him everything.
Crowley kissed his way down to the inside of Aziraphale’s trembling and abused thigh which he knew was already covered in marks and bruises. A whimper he barely recognized was torn from his throat as Crowley kissed over a particularly sensitive spot.
Aziraphale had been ravished. Debauched. He was covered in sweat and other fluids and looked an absolute mess, no doubt, while Crowley still proudly wore his sleeping shorts and t-shirt. He flinched when Crowley’s fingertips stroked over his hip and followed the line of his thigh.
“Crowley,” Aziraphale whimpered, shaking his head. He couldn’t form any other words.
“Angel,” Crowley answered as he shimmied up Aziraphale’s body and gazed down at him lovingly, a hand coming up to cup Aziraphale’s flushed cheek. Crowley wiped away a few trickling tears from Aziraphale’s skin. He hadn’t realized he was crying.
“Eden.” Aziraphale whispered it and closed his eyes, body trembling with exertion.
“Shh,” Crowley cooed, fingers carding through Aziraphale’s hair, “we’re done. We’re done, Aziraphale. You’re wonderful. I’m going to untie you now.”
He did, gentle and careful as he brought each of Aziraphale’s arms back down to his sides. Crowley spent time rubbing his wrists and hands, massaging away the stiffness all the way up to his shoulders. Aziraphale floated, his mind fuzzy and on the edge of complete exhaustion. He could do nothing except receive, fingers barely flexing against Crowley’s hands as skilled thumbs worked into his palms.
“Wait here.” Crowley set his hand down and leaned in to kiss his cheek before he disappeared somewhere. Aziraphale dozed. Or, at least he was pretty certain he dozed, because he jerked awake and instantly regretted it as his muscles cried out in pain at the sudden movement.
“Shh, I was just cleaning you up a bit,” Crowley soothed as he ran a washcloth along the inside of Aziraphale’s thighs, then across his stomach. “Relax.”
Aziraphale did, and he fell back asleep.
When he next awoke it was to the realization that he was surrounded by warmth. Somehow he’d been maneuvered under the comforter, the sheets soft and pleasant against his abused skin. Crowley was wrapped around him from behind, front plastered against Aziraphale’s back, arms and legs tangled and draped so that Aziraphale was secured in his embrace.
“I love you,” Aziraphale whispered into the room, unsure if Crowley was awake or heard him, but it was worth saying regardless. It would always be worth saying. Still exhausted, he allowed sleep to pull him back under, the only indication that Crowley may have heard was the ever-so-slight tightening of the arm around his waist.
“Does it still hurt you?” Aziraphale asked one day as they sat in the back garden spread out on a picnic blanket. Aziraphale sat cross legged on it with a book in one hand. Crowley lay with his head on Aziraphale’s thigh, Aziraphale’s free hand carding through his hair.
The thought occurred to him as Crowley’s presence distracted him from his book.
“Does what hurt me, angel?” Crowley asked as he tilted his head back to get a better look at Aziraphale.
“My love.” He winced, unsure if he actually wanted the answer now that the words had been spoken.
Crowley considered the question and then shook his head. “Not so much. I’ve gotten used to it.”
It was Aziraphale’s turn to consider this information. “But you’re not fond of sex.”
Crowley choked on air and sat up, coughing as he struggled to catch his breath. “Angel, what are you going on about?”
Aziraphale huffed and his cheeks warmed as he marked his place in his book and set it aside. “I just mean...well. Sometimes I think about initiating but when I start, it seems like you’re reluctant. Yet when you bound my hands some months ago you had little issue touching me. It seems to only be when I try to touch you .” He hesitated and stared down at his hands.
“Aziraphale.” Aziraphale looked up at his name and found Crowley watching him with a serious look on his face.
“Yes, dear boy?” Aziraphale asked with a wobbly smile.
Crowley scooted closer and reached out to cup Aziraphale’s cheek. “To be honest, no, I’ve never been terribly interested in sex. Not like, well, this anyway.” He grimaced and let his hand fall from Aziraphale’s face to his knee. “I do, however, enjoy watching you succumb to it. I’m just, well, interested in a different type of intimacy.”
Aziraphale wasn’t entirely sure what he was referring to. “There’s something you’d like to try?”
“In a manner of speaking…” Crowley trailed off, gaze flicking to the blanket and then back up to meet Aziraphale’s. “We’re not human, Aziraphale. And I suppose despite going rather native I’ve never quite gotten the hang of this body when it comes to receiving. When I think about it I realize I’m left wanting more. The, ah, whole experience? Do you get it?”
He didn’t, but he wanted to. “The whole experience?” he echoed, trying to figure out what that meant.
“Surely the practice wasn’t discontinued after the Fall.” Crowley looked hesitant now, settling on his knees in front of Aziraphale. “Can I show you?”
Aziraphale nodded his ascent and realized very quickly what Crowley meant, as in a plane slightly adjacent to the one they inhabited, the feathers of their wings brushed together. It sent a spark of electricity coursing down his spine and Aziraphale made a surprised little noise.
Crowley laughed. “Oh indeed, angel.”
Crowley pressed in more, except it wasn’t the human earthly body that Aziraphale could see in front of him. It was in a different place, and where they sat the edges of Crowley’s vessel blurred as a dark, shimmering presence butted gently up against his own. He gasped and shuddered, vaguely recalling experiencing this before, a long time ago.
It had been before the Fall. Before they were beings shoved into bodies of flesh and blood, or made to take on shapes that mimicked them for those that didn’t come to earth. Keeping all that Aziraphale was in a nice, neat, human package had become second nature, so much so that he rarely thought about the expansive nature of what he really was.
Of course Crowley never did. He was always acutely aware of exactly what they were. Aziraphale brushed back, his own essence bright and grey like the early morning before the sun made its way into the sky. He watched as Crowley’s human body shuddered with it, how those serpentine eyes slid shut and there was a whine that was both human and inhuman.
“Aziraphale,” Crowley whispered as he curled around Aziraphale, a living galaxy, wings spread wide and glittering with starlight. Aziraphale brushed their wings together again, enjoying the way the greys of his feathers entwined with the shimmering darkness of Crowley’s, the touch more overwhelming than anything the human body could produce.
Suddenly, they both pulled back and Aziraphale once more sat on a picnic blanket with a dazed looking Crowley still on his knees in front of him.
“That’s a lot,” Aziraphale admitted with a shiver, the ghost of Crowley’s touches still lingering on his skin somehow.
“Yeah,” Crowley glanced away, “it is.”
“I want to try it again.” The words surprised Aziraphale, and Crowley looked at him, eyes sharp and full of disbelief.
“You do?” He sounded doubtful.
“Perhaps not in the garden,” Aziraphale admitted, “but yes. My dear boy I want every part of you that you will give me and this...it is a gift.”
“Even though I’m fallen?” There it was, the insecurity, the uncertainty clear on Crowley’s face. He’d been brave and offered up not just a piece of himself, but his whole self. It was more than Aziraphale felt he deserved and it was certainly better than any earthly pursuit.
“You are you, Crowley. We’re on our side, remember?” Aziraphale smiled and leaned in to brush a kiss to the tip of Crowley’s nose. “Angels and demons be damned.”
Crowley slipped into the living room one evening and stood in front of Aziraphale who peered up from his book.
“Crowley,” he greeted with a fond smile. Crowley held out his hand and Aziraphale set his book aside and took it, allowing Crowley to tug him up onto his feet.
“Take me to bed, Aziraphale,” Crowley said and Aziraphale could tell it took all the demon’s strength not to look away when he asked for it. Aziraphale, on the other hand, felt warmed spread from his head to his toes. He’d been waiting, wondering when they’d finally explore what Crowley had shown him on the picnic blanket a couple weeks earlier.
“Come to bed then, Crowley.” Aziraphale tugged his arm gently and led him down the hallway and to their bedroom. Once inside he made sure the door shut behind them and then released Crowley’s hand. He reached up with both his hands and cupped Crowley’s face, leaning in to kiss him.
Crowley kissed back, pliant and needy and already making soft noises in the back of his throat as their mouths opened and their tongues connected. Aziraphale slid one of his hands to Crowley’s hair and ruffled it, enjoying how soft and thick it was between his fingers.
Now that Aziraphale knew what Crowley wanted, it was easy to slide his awareness out of his human body into a different space. They continued to kiss and touch with their human forms as he guided Crowley onto the bed, but soon that became like a distant dream as he stretched into the vast emptiness around him.
There was no gravity, no skin, nothing pulling him down and constricting him. He was free, and his wings stretched out for miles on either side of him as he expanded. His essence floated, coalescing in a thing that was at its core Aziraphale. He’d forgotten what it was like to be here, to be himself, all the chains of reality falling away.
Across from him, through the darkness and the light that bent together to create the strange ether they inhabited, was Crowley. He’d already reigned in his form into something vaguely Crowley-shaped, though what Crowley-shaped meant varied by the moment because where they were whatever shapes they took, the shapes belonged to them. His wings were magnificent, containing thousands of stars, little glittering lights against a swirling midnight backdrop.
The air between them buzzed and vibrated and Aziraphale shifted closer. He was able to see all around him, no longer bound by the human restriction of two eyes and an optic nerve, or synapses and hemispheres. He could see all of Crowley, even the bits that faded like smoke into their surroundings.
“This is joy,” Crowley said, though he didn’t say it in English. It took Aziraphale a moment to recall the ancient language of beings like them, the one that was spoken into their minds at their genesis by God Herself. It was the language they were named in. Or, at least that Aziraphale was named in, as he knew Crowley’s name was long forgotten, beaten into stardust and scattered into the universe.
“You are my joy,” Aziraphale answered as his wingtips brushed against Crowley’s and the demon’s entire being shuddered with it. He could taste the anticipation in the air. Crowley’s yearning was palatable, thick and enticing on what would be his lips if he had any.
Aziraphale could feel Crowley’s fear, the way it shivered in the space between them and shuddered all the more when Aziraphale pressed in.
“Do demons do this?”
Crowley laughed and it vibrated through Aziraphale. “No. I take it angels don’t either?”
Aziraphale responded in the negative as he curled closer to Crowley and sensed all the places where they brushed together. It was comfortable, warm, and each point of contact tingled and trembled. He reached out with not-quite-fingers and ran them through Crowley’s shimmering feathers, eliciting another shudder.
“Let me groom you.” Aziraphale pressed the equivalent of his face into the soft feathers of Crowley’s left wing and the demon whined.
“Yessss…” He hissed, and Aziraphale set to work. He glided along each feather, straightening and fluffing and pulling. The sensation reverberated through all of his atoms and soothed some needy beast that lived at the core of him. He enjoyed touching Crowley’s wings and wondered, idly, why they didn’t do this more in the material world.
“You can do it anytime angel,” Crowley said, and Aziraphale realized they were sharing thoughts. There weren’t true words, not here, not spoken vibrations carried through the air from one eardrum to another. They spoke in a different language, one that required no sound except that which drifted between them easily like water.
Crowley flapped his massive wings once Aziraphale was finished with them and took flight, soaring carelessly around, showing off his wings in a way that tickled some ancient part of Aziraphale’s brain. The show in front of him made him want in earnest as he thought about digging into Crowley and merging with him, pressing and pushing until they were as close as any two beings could be.
Underneath all that he had the desire to claim as well. Crowley was his . He growled into the empty space around them and watched Crowley’s form flicker and shiver before he returned to Aziraphale and brushed against him like a cat would rub against someone’s legs.
“Mine,” Aziraphale whispered as he wound his way around Crowley and felt the demon settle against him.
“Yours,” Crowley answered as he nuzzled close.
It wasn’t kissing, not really. Kissing required mouths and tongues and human bodies that obeyed the laws of physics. The result was similar, however. Heat spread through Aziraphale’s form, followed by a tight sensation that seemed an awful lot like arousal. It was Crowley’s turn to growl because there were no secrets between them and Aziraphale shared his desire and arousal and his love as it bounced between them and crescendoed.
Aziraphale pressed closer, pieces of him locking together and swirling around pieces of Crowley as the feathers of their wings interlaced protectively around them. In the soft comfort of glittering black darkness and soft grey light Aziraphale buried his very essence inside of Crowley and Crowley returned the favor.
Everything rocked together as pleasure curled through Aziraphale, hot and heavy and intoxicating. There were emotions aplenty drifting between the two, fear and love and anger and joy, everything and anything two eternal, ethereal beings could feel. Aziraphale realized quickly that they were not two beings anymore, but one. They were together.
It all shuddered to a glass shattering stop as Aziraphale lost track of where he ended and Crowley began because everything was us now. Our side.
Aziraphale opened his human eyes as their bedroom faded back into place around them. Crowley lay in his arms, face tucked against Aziraphale’s chest. They both trembled, weak and a bit dizzy.
It was easier to rest quietly, so that’s what they did. Aziraphale refamiliarized himself with the sensation of breathing again, and the way gravity pressed him into the bed and Crowley into his chest. After being so expansive it was strange to be so small again, contained in skin and bone.
He finally reached up and pet Crowley’s hair. “Are you quite alright, my love?”
“Mmph.” Crowley nodded but otherwise refused to move.
“Did we just become mates?” Aziraphale asked after another long moment of silence.
Crowley snorted, paused, then nodded.
“I wonder how long it has been since our kind have done that.” Since before the Fall, probably. Aziraphale barely remembered it then, having been so new to it all only to have everything fall apart. They had ways of bonding back then that had been repressed after losing a portion of their kin, likely out of safety than anything else. After all, one could never know when their mate might fall and then where would they be?
Happy still, perhaps, Aziraphale mused as he glanced down at Crowley’s shock of red hair.
Mates. What an interesting concept.
Early one morning Crowley sat at their tiny dining room table with a cup of coffee and a magazine. Aziraphale watched him from the archway that led from the hallway into the kitchen, a small box in his hand.
He walked over to the table, bare feet slapping against chilled tiles. Crowley looked up and smiled that wonderfully unguarded smile of his, then glanced at the box, and back to Aziraphale’s face.
“Angel?” He asked, suddenly uncertain as Aziraphale approached and sank down onto one knee.
“Marry me,” Aziraphale said as he popped open the box to reveal a plain gold ring that, if Crowley looked closely along the inside, had patterned engravings of swirling wings and serpents.
“Angel.” Tears came unbidden to Crowley’s eyes as he stubbornly wiped them away. “You’re so - so…” he shook his head and threw his arms around Aziraphale. They both tumbled back onto the floor and Aziraphale clutched the ring and clutched Crowley.
“Is that a yes, then?” Aziraphale asked.
“Yes, you idiot,” Crowley huffed, and it sounded a little bit like a sob. “We already are, practically.”
“Yes, well, I thought since we did it the ethereal way perhaps we ought to try it the human way, too.” They were, after all, beings of both worlds now.
“Idiot,” Crowley grumbled, sniffling. Eventually Aziraphale rearranged them so that Crowley was more comfortably draped across him. It served the secondary purpose of giving Aziraphale access to Crowley’s hand, which he took in his own to slide the ring onto his finger.
“Forever, Crowley,” Aziraphale said quietly once they were both calm. Crowley laced their fingers together.
“Good luck getting rid of me,” Crowley groused, but in another plane nestled right beside theirs, their wings brushed together in a way that echoed forever.