The world almost ends. Near thing, really. What happens next, after bloody everything and Adam snapping existence back into working order, is that Crowley takes Aziraphale home to his flat and pours them both about three or thirteen fingers of scotch. The house plants positively beam about it, showering in the angel’s presence like flowers turned toward the sun. The pothos plant even tries to reach a tendril of vine out to touch him from behind until Crowley swats it away, mumbling something under his breath as he gives it a warning glare.
He can’t begrudge them, really. He feels the same around Aziraphale a lot of the time.
What happens after that, even, is that Crowley pulls back the blankets on his bed for what is perhaps the first time in this flat, ever, internally cursing himself for having gone so soft. He beckons the angel over and they kiss, and kiss, and kiss some more until he’s not cross about unmaking the bed anymore, because they both sink onto it together and Crowley can’t imagine a better way to cap off the almost-end of the whole world.
The day has turned an unusual shade of burnt dusk outside, a fiery wash of orange and pink staining the sky like hibiscus tea. Their clothes come off in a rush and Crowley forgets to miracle his sunglasses away until Aziraphale’s soft, pleasantly cool fingers are at his temples, pulling them off and carefully setting them on the nightstand.
He looks down into Crowley’s eyes with so much tenderness and pure affection that it makes the demon want to crawl out of his own skin, but that feeling is only secondary to how much he wants this, and Aziraphale, and goddamn everything so long as they’re side by side. If his eyes burn some when Aziraphale kisses his brow before sinking into him with such a blissful slide and stretch, well, neither one of them have to mention it.
“My dear,” the angel says, just those two words whispered in a prayer against Crowley’s lips as they begin to rock together, bathed over in the last dregs of twilight before the sky outside turns dark with the promise of another day beyond it. Crowley hisses and swears as he paws at Aziraphale’s back and urges him along with his hips and thighs, but it’s far too grateful to be anything done with any venom, and eventually he can only make the softest sounds of pleasure as golden warmth courses through him in cresting waves. He doesn’t deserve this, but he’ll drink every ounce of it up until there’s nothing left.
“Fuck, angel,” he moans, overcome and trembling with whatever This is. “Aziraphale.”
“Shh, darling,” Aziraphale tells him, still thrusting into Crowley like the steady roll of some ancient tide, holding him close as he falls apart. “I’m here.”
There’s the most peculiar feeling when the angel comes inside him—their bodies intertwined, mouths crushed together, Crowley’s fingers twisting in Aziraphale’s soft curls, really a most indecent and horrific sight to behold. But it breaks through him like a shattered piece of altar crystal, somewhere deep in his belly, unfurling like a bright star gone nova.
“Angel,” he says afterward, when Aziraphale is nuzzling at his throat and petting his sides, cock going soft in Crowley’s body. “Did you feel anything—out of place, or?”
“When we made love just now?” Aziraphale murmurs, kissing under Crowley’s ear.
“Demons don’t make love, angel,” Crowley grouses, tossing a hand over his eyes in indignity. He still doesn’t make any move to push Aziraphale off or stop the sweet, heavenly kisses feathered along his jaw, though.
“No,” Aziraphale concedes, punctuating his answer with another ardent press of his lips. The moon rises outside, visible for once through the sparse wisps of clouds. “But you’ve always been a bit of a rule breaker, haven’t you my dear?”
Crowley is dying.
Well, that’s nearly impossible given the specific set of circumstances he operates under in this terrestrial realm of existence, and unless a nasty bout of indigestion and nausea is going to off his corporeal form this go around—it’s got to be something else.
The bottle of milk of magnesia he chugs outside a Superdrug doesn’t help as much as he’d hoped, because within a few moments he’s spewing the viscous pink liquid up into a bush in Soho and having to miracle the residual splatter off his shoes. The walk to Aziraphale’s shop feels like a march to crucifixion, and by the time he staggers through the front door he’s sweating and miserable.
“Angel,” he calls out into the quiet shop, not even able to admire the newly acquired stacks of books already reaching for the ceiling in some places. “I’m dying.”
Aziraphale comes out of the back room in his tartan dressing gown carrying a cup of tea and a tin of chocolate biscuits with one sticking out of his mouth. He pulls it from between his teeth, looks Crowley up and down over the rims of his gold glasses, and says, “You do look a bit peaky, dear. Don’t tell me you got buggered into the minsters’ wives knitting circle again. They bless the wool beforehand, you know.”
Crowley blinks at him from behind his sunglasses, jaw hanging open, and then reaches up to press a fist against his mouth as another wave of nausea surges through him. He’s panting by the time it passes, and Aziraphale has somehow steered him over to the settee and gently pushed him down onto it before draping an afghan around his shoulders.
“You really aren’t feeling well, are you,” the angel tuts, pressing a cool palm to Crowley’s forehead. “Not feverish, though. How long have you been off?”
“Started early this morning,” Crowley says between grit teeth, now slumped back into the soft cushions. “I haven’t made any point of eating since our date on Friday.”
Aziraphale’s brow furrows a bit. “And you can’t make it go away?”
“You think I haven’t tried?” Crowley hisses, but Aziraphale is already waving him off and performing a small miracle. There’s a moment of silence and then he clears his throat, giving Crowley a perplexed stare when his slumped and pale position on the couch doesn’t immediately rectify itself.
“Well?” Crowley asks, wretchedly pulling his sunglasses from his face. “Why isn’t your angelic juju doing me one better and nipping whatever this is in the arse?”
The fact that Aziraphale has paled some himself and reached up to clutch at the front of his dressing gown doesn’t seem to bode well.
“You—you’re with child, Crowley,” he says, just like that, in the messy parlor of this once-scourged effing bookshop in Soho where Crowley thought he’d lost the one thing he ever really cared about, the car be damned, since they unraveled into existence and millennia began.
“I’m with WHAT?” he says in a strangled shout, fighting the afghan off his shoulders and finding he’s far too nauseated to even think about standing.
Aziraphale’s eyes are wet and shining, now, and Crowley feels panic begin to rise like a tsunami in his chest.
“A babe,” the angel says, sniffling. “In your belly. Still very small yet, but it’s there.”
Crowley looks down at his flat stomach and then gapes back up at Aziraphale. “Whose?” he sputters. “I haven’t shagged anybody but you since—since—oh. Oh.”
They stare at each other for a beat, Crowley still crumpled with malaise, Aziraphale wiping around his eyes now as he sinks down next to him on the settee.
“How is this possible?” Crowley asks. “When I’m—“ he flaps his hands for effect, “and you’re…?” Another dubious hand signal in his companion’s direction. When Aziraphale doesn’t start or do anything beyond smile, Crowley barks, “What’s this? You’re not even bothered!”
“Well,” Aziraphale says, gripping his knees and sighing deeply, “I must admit I’m a touch surprised, but we’re both no stranger to more, er, immaculate conceptions. When two bodies are brought together in passionate union, Crowley, these things can happen.”
Crowley scoffs. “Right then,” he says. “You tell me why none of our other passionate unions have put a little hybrid bastard in my belly, hm? It’s not like the would-be Apocalypse was the first time I let you come inside my tw—”
Aziraphale cuts him off with a look. “You don’t have to be so indelicate about it,” he says. “We both know the Lord works in mysterious ways. Now,” he adds after a moment, taking a sobering sip of his reheated tea after waving a palm over it, “the important thing is that you’re comfortable with whatever decision you make about the pregnancy. I wouldn’t push you either way, of course, you know. It’s ultimately your choice.”
Crowley blinks, confused. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
When Aziraphale bites his bottom lip and gives him a pained pointed look, Crowley understands.
“Ah.” He looks down at his shoes, briefly, and then at Aziraphale’s hands still holding his cup and saucer of steaming English breakfast. “If we couldn’t miracle away this thin—this child,” he croaks, “I don’t think it’s going anywhere.”
“You intend to keep it?” Aziraphale asks. Crowley despises how much his heart pounds when he hears that undercurrent of hopefulness ringing through the angel’s voice like a note plucked on a harp string. He feels consumed from the inside out with—something. It’s making him both positively terrified and full of the most undignified yearning all at the same time.
“Yes,” he decides, and that one word in itself nearly makes him wilt with relief, though he doesn’t fully yet understand why.
“Oh Lord, angel,” Crowley swears a moment later. “You’ve put a miracle in me.”
Aziraphale positively beams at that, reaching over to gently draw Crowley’s hands into his own as the sun rises higher in the window behind his curly head. “Splendid irony, isn’t it?” he says. “Given our respective track records.”
That shakes a tiny, strangled laugh from Crowley. “You, of all bloody people.”
“My dear,” Aziraphale says, kissing Crowley’s cheek. “I’m just that damn good.”
At first, when he’s still stunned with the sheer ineffability of it all, Crowley buys about a dozen of those boxed pharmacy kits with the little plastic stick inside and uses each test just to be sure. He usually miracles away the urge to piss, but lately he’s found it’s there a lot more often than it ever used to be, and when the checkout clerk at the pharmacy is giving him odd looks from behind the till as he drops an armload of kits on the counter and asks if he can return them if they’re defective—well. How all four of her car tires unequivocally decided to flatten themselves with no known cause or reason that day while parked out in the lot out back, there’s no real telling, the poor soul.
Without fail, every single one of the pregnancy tests comes out positive. Agnes Nutter may not have foreseen this, but Crowley finds his fortune told right there in tiny blue lines.
Aziraphale declares them honorary pillars of sobriety for the time being, which really chafes Crowley’s bottom to no end when you get right down to it, but he’s able to peaceably drink his decaffeinated tea and green smoothies up until the week his trousers stop fitting around the middle.
“How is anybody meant to take me seriously like this, angel?” he hisses, demonstrating from in front of his floor-length mirror how his slacks won’t zip or button even when he strains to pull them together. “Eventually I’ll be the size of a blessed house and what then? You can’t expect me to inflict wiles and temptation while wearing Topshop’s latest maternity line!”
Aziraphale puts on a brave face and silently lets out the waistline of every pair of trousers in Crowley’s closet with a wave of his hand. “Perhaps you should take a brief sabbatical from all your tempting and wiling, dear,” he says. “A paternity leave, if you will.”
“And do what, exactly?” Crowley scoffs. “Sit around buttering crumpets and knitting baby booties until I pop? It’s unbecoming.”
Aziraphale wrinkles his nose up while he thinks, then taps a forefinger against his lips as the idea gradually comes to him. “We could travel,” he suggests. “It wasn’t ever written in scripture that you have to be confined to greater London while carrying a pregnancy.”
“I’ll daresay there’s a whole hell of a lot about this situation that wasn’t written in the scripture, thank you,” Crowley grumbles, but then tugs his shirt down over the tiny swell of his stomach and stares at both of their reflections in the mirror until he grunts, “Have you ever been to Maldives?”
“No,” Aziraphale says, smiling almost impishly. “When would you like to leave?”
Once he’s sitting on a sandy beach overlooking the Arabian Sea wearing nothing but a swimsuit bottom and an oversized shirt made of soft linen, Crowley doesn’t feel so poorly about his trousers not fitting like they used to.
Aziraphale is down at the surf, looking entirely too English in his trunks and straw hat, pointing out shells and sea stars to a small child of about four or five while they wade in the clear blue water. The boy’s parents keep watch from further up the beach, and why two sentient adults would ever think to bring their offspring to the Maldives, Crowley doesn’t rightly know—but he is enjoying seeing his companion interact with a tow-headed child with dimples that’s not the Antichrist, for once in their blessed lives.
“You know the scientific name for these little fellows is Asteroidea,” Aziraphale says, carefully holding one of the live sea stars in his palm for the child to see. “Quite literally, of ‘star form.’ I remember when dear Henry de Blainville classified them in 1830.”
The child blinks up at Aziraphale but smiles shyly, watching as he slowly lowers the pinkish creature back into the water. “We have to keep them safe and happy where they belong in the sea,” the angel says. “So if you see any live sand dollars or sea stars for sale anywhere as interior decor, don’t buy them, dear boy. It’s oceanic genocide at the hands of capitalism.”
Crowley hasn’t even realized his hand has strayed to rest over his belly until the boy runs off with a bucketful of shells and Aziraphale trudges back up through the golden sand to sit beside him. He feels weirdly self-conscious about it and shifts as if to move until Aziraphale reaches over and touches Crowley’s abdomen himself, leaving an instantaneous glimmer of warmth and light to course through him like a third steady heartbeat.
“Are you hungry, dear?” Aziraphale asks, digging his toes into the dry sand. “I thought we’d try one of the more casual restaurants this evening, perhaps sit out by the water and enjoy the breeze.”
“That’s fine, angel,” Crowley murmurs, eyes lulling some under the weight of the blessing Aziraphale passed on to him. Now that his morning sickness has passed, he’s been nigh on eating them out of house and home for the past several weeks. It’s easy to think one is capable of living off nothing but miracle’d coffee, fine liqueur, and the occasional cigarette until you find yourself eating for two.
“You’re good with the little ones, you know,” Crowley says, thinking of the small blond boy and his shells. “More than you give yourself credit for.”
Aziraphale colors some at that, the pinkness in his cheeks having nothing to do with the sun. “Not as good as you, I’d wager,” he says. “I seem to recall your fondness for them as early as, oh, several millennia ago.”
“Yes, well,” Crowley mutters, clearing his throat. “It’s always different when they’re your own responsibility, isn’t it? What we’ve gotten ourselves into isn’t any one-night babysitting job.”
Aziraphale smiles, watching Crowley from the corner of his eye. “I never said it was,” he says gently, and then steeples his fingers across his chest. “I’m curious to know if you’ve given all this—“ he gestures between them and at Crowley’s stomach in the same moment, “—any more particular thought.”
Crowley blinks behind his sunglasses and plucks at the front of his shirt. “About what, exactly?” he asks. “You knocked me up, I’m carrying a child or some other hideous creature that’s borne of the illicit fraternization between an angel and demon, nobody’s come to smite either of us yet for sleeping behind enemy lines—not that I think they would give a toss at this point, frankly, but you never know what direction a flaming sword’s gonna swing in next, eh?”
A few passing seagulls cry and Aziraphale draws in a deep breath before muttering a silent prayer under his breath. “Lord be with this child,” he says more loudly than before, and when Crowley pretends to contort in pain the angel shoots him a reproachful look. “Oh, stop that,” he snorts. “I was mostly asking in the interest of the baby and what our plans are for—the future, I suppose.”
“I’ve got to squeeze the little bugger out, first,” Crowley says, though Aziraphale doesn’t miss the tiniest echo of fondness there. “I was under the impression it’s a bit intuitive from there, like riding a bicycle y’know—we’ll figure it out as we go. It’s not like I fell yesterday, angel, I swear.”
Crowley incredulously watches Aziraphale gnaw his bottom lip—rife with some inner turmoil—and waits, at long last, for his companion to murmur, “I meant, my dear, do you think we should get married before the baby arrives.”
“Married!” Crowley yelps, loudly enough that the family further along the beach looks up and stares for a moment before going back to their sand castle. His eyebrows have shot up so high on his forehead that his sunglasses have fallen down his nose, exposing two brilliant golden irises. “Do you—why would—I don’t—really angel, you and me? Tying the old knot?”
Aziraphale’s expression has turned morose. “If I’d known you were going to carry on, I wouldn’t have asked,” he says, looking out toward the water. “I thought it was a sincere enough question, considering.”
“Yes, well,” Crowley says, struggling to grasp at words that don’t come to him. “You—you startled me, is all.” A peculiar silence falls between them after that, and though it makes Crowley itch and squirm he lets it lie for now. What’s surprising to him is that Aziraphale does the same.
As the sun begins to sink in the sky they leave the calm shore behind, silently walking along the wooden dock that will lead them back to their room. They’ve already been here six nights but—miraculously—there was a mix-up with Mr. A. Fell’s reservation and their stay is being extended for another week free of charge, if you could imagine such a fortuitous thing.
Truly, Crowley’s grateful to sit back and let Aziraphale handle things for once. This can be their neutral ground of sorts, he supposes, where nothing needs to hang in the great cosmic balance. Not that the angel has done much thwarting when it comes to Crowley’s wiles as of late, but that’s a bridge to cross some other time. Crowley doesn’t want to think about it, or their little tiff down on the beach, but it’s all that runs through his mind throughout the otherwise delightful dinner they have while the sun sets across the darkened sapphire water.
Aziraphale seems to have mostly forgotten the incident from earlier in the day, pink-cheeked and smiling as he lets the breeze ripple through his curls and tease the collar of his shirt. Not for the first time in a few thousand years, Crowley marvels at how handsome he is—the kind of handsome that turns beautiful and otherworldly at times, sexless and ethereal. Others don’t see it anymore because they don’t take the time to really look, but Crowley knows. If he takes his sunglasses off he can see the faint aura of light spread out behind the angel’s head, how it twinkles golden like the first ray of sunshine that He cast into the Garden. There’s starlight in the crow’s feet at the corners of Aziraphale’s eyes, celestial song in his laughter.
“Perhaps I don’t deserve you,” Crowley blurts out, which makes Aziraphale’s eyes widen across the table. “Marriage is meant to be built on equal footing, yeah? Sickness and health and all that, a union of holy matrimony. But we’re glossing over the fact that nothing about me is exactly holy anymore.”
Aziraphale’s expression briefly darkens while he thinks, mouth pressed into a thin line. “Crowley,” he says at last. “I can’t think of somebody else on this earth whose footing is more equatorial to my own than yours.”
“I’m a demon, angel,” Crowley says, and for a moment he can’t tell if he’s trying to convince himself or Aziraphale more. “I’ve fallen from grace and rolled around in the bloody depths of hell. I have been strapped to the rack and had every ounce of holiness peeled from my body like strips of flesh. I fail to understand how this baby wound up in my belly, and can hardly begin to fathom why you’d want to be strapped with me for whatever blesss-ed eternity it takes until the next sodding Apocalypse comes knocking on our door.”
If Aziraphale looks pained, he only sighs and snaps his fingers so the couples around them forget everything they just heard. “Do you feel quite better now?” he asks.
“No,” Crowley murmurs, sinking back in his chair to sulk. “I’m confused as anything and I think I’ve got heartburn.”
Aziraphale stands and touches two fingers to Crowley’s sternum, willing the discomfort away. “Come along, then,” he says, opening his billfold to lay a few bills out on the table before Crowley can do it himself. “I don’t want either of us putting any strain on the baby.”
Irritation begins to broil in Crowley’s stomach but he stands and walks with Aziraphale anyway. It’s full dark now, their steps falling alongside the gentle wash of waves on the dock.
Aziraphale’s profile is just barely visible in the lights guiding their path back to the room. “I don’t know if this ever occurred to you,” he says, blinking somewhat rapidly, “but there’s a good chance that child is in your belly because of the bond we share. Out of love, Crowley.”
When Crowley stays quiet, Aziraphale draws in an uneven breath and says, “You are not as unholy as you think, my dear. Far from it anymore.” He abruptly stops walking, and for one gut-wrenching second Crowley thinks he’s going to pull out a ring, but there’s only Aziraphale, and him, and the tiny baby growing inside him between them.
“Demon or not,” Aziraphale says, “you can see that hasn’t stopped me from wanting to spend my time with you—nor would it stop me from wanting to share a life with you.”
The ocean sighs for a few moments. Crowley closes his eyes and listens to it as he says, “You really mean that, angel.”
“Yes,” Aziraphale answers, close enough that Crowley can feel the grace radiating off him. “Very much so.”
When they kiss, there out in the open in front of God and Satan and the stars and everybody, Crowley only leans into it and knows that he wants—needs—more. All of it. Everything. For the whole bloody fucking eternity.
“You win this time, angel,” he rasps, swaying some on his feet. The admission of what he wants, with Aziraphale—this odd little thing they’ve made, the bond they share, thousands of years into what started as a foiled game of cat and mouse. He reaches up to cover his face with his hands, and if they’re shaking it’s for nobody else to know.
“I’ll marry you, you tosser,” Crowley says as he presses himself into his angel’s arms, “but only if you take me to bed this instant and shag me senseless.”
Aziraphale’s lips curve into a smile at the delicate skin by Crowley’s eye. “I think that can be arranged.”
Later, when Aziraphale’s lying on white sheets in the cool darkness of their room and Crowley’s looming above him, head tossed back, rolling his hips like the ceaseless sea outside, he’ll feel the warmth of a familiar hand cupping his belly. The touch alone makes pleasure bloom through him until he cries out from the fill of it, grinding down on Aziraphale’s cock as his body clenches and flutters around it.
“Tell me again, angel,” Crowley whispers once he’s collapsed into Aziraphale’s arms, shivering as the angel’s fine fingers wander back over the curve of his arse and then lower to press into the satin-hot slickness of his hole. “How this miraculous child of ours came to be.”
“The pure light of love, my darling,” Aziraphale says, smiling as Crowley sobs and shakes apart on his heavenly fingers. “Nothing but the pure light of love.”
I'm back! Please remember the content warnings for this part before you dive in and read: labor, semi-graphic natural childbirth, chest feeding, and far too much softness to stomach. Crowley's water breaks mid-coitus, and it's kinda weird but mostly meant to be a humorous moment.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Upon their return to England, Aziraphale more or less moves himself and a small collection of his personal effects into Crowley’s flat with the intent to more routinely go back and forth between there and the bookshop. There’s more room to move about and miraculously expand in the flat, if need be, and the unspoken agreement that towering shelves of ancient tomes in a building once razed by fire probably isn’t the best place to prepare for an infant’s arrival. Asbestos and all, you know.
The houseplants quiver with joy when they realize that the angel’s not leaving, at least not anytime soon, flourishing like long-forgotten jungle flowers and growing so quickly that it would be truly exasperating under any other circumstance but this one.
Crowley watches Aziraphale spritz them with the mister now, making rounds about the living room and giving each one a kindly few words of encouragement. The venus flytrap even opens its mouth as if to greet Aziraphale with a smile, spindly little teeth grinning up at him before the angel pops a dead fly into its jaws.
“And peace be with you as well, my friend,” he tells the flytrap, smiling primly as it closes its mouth around the new meal. “Crowley, my goodness, all your green friends are so endearing and polite. You’ve raised them incredibly well.”
Crowley arches a dark brow, shooting the nearest African violet a stern look in case it’d somehow gotten the notion to fall out of line. “They’re well-versed in…routine,” he says lightly, flipping a page in the book he’d picked up marketed toward expectant parents. Aziraphale goes to put a kettle on in the kitchenette and Crowley reads a few more passages before tossing the book onto the ottoman with a huff.
“This is utter rubbish,” he says, accosting the forsaken paperback with a finger so it blinks out of existence. “I feel like I’m being patronized. The author writes as if they’re speaking to a roomful of primary school children who need their hand held through the whole nine month process, not two dim-witted adults who so conveniently forgot to wrap up a willy.”
Aziraphale shuffles between the sink and stove in his slippers and then gets out the tea box and a tin of sugar. “You know quite well that humans find hand-holding comforting in times where they face the unknown.”
“Well, I’ve yet to learn anything useful from it,” Crowley grumbles, slumping further into the pristine white leather couch he’s reclined on. “Nothing at-all.”
The cabinet opens and shuts as Aziraphale pulls out two cups and saucers and drops a couple sugars in each with delicate silver tongs. “Tell me, have you made an appointment with an obstetrician yet?” he asks.
“Whatever for?” Crowley says. “I haven’t been to a doctor since that whole hysteria crisis the Victorians stirred up.”
Aziraphale drops a sugar cube, looking vaguely flustered as he miracles it off the floor. “Well, I think it’d be best for your health, as well as the baby’s,” he says slowly. “We’ve already seen that things have taken on a well, err—more human route in terms of gestation. You should be diligent about staying on top of your neonatal wellness, my dear.”
Crowley looks skeptical, golden eyes narrowed into slits. “What, you think I ought to go and have a scan, then?” He laughs abruptly, screwing up his face into delight. “Tell me what you think the poor staff would do if they pulled up the sonogram and there was a wee set of horns.”
“I don’t think there will be,” Aziraphale says with a sniff, going to dig around in the cupboard for something to go with their tea. “I can sense the child’s soul—right there at the edge of my grace, growing stronger and more vibrant every day.”
“Huh,” Crowley says, more subdued this time, looking down at his rounded belly beneath his fine silk pyjamas. “I wonder why I can’t feel them.”
“Have you tried?” Aziraphale says knowingly before he turns to fetch the whistling kettle off the stove. “You should talk to them, dear. Let them know you love and care for them even before they leave the womb.”
“We already do!” Crowley insists, suddenly feeling unusually flushed. “Sometimes I can’t get you to shut up when I just want to fuck and you’re busy speaking into my belly like a bloody telephone.”
“Not we,” Aziraphale corrects. “You.”
“Nngh,” Crowley bemoans, throwing an arm across his eyes. “This is too complicated, angel.”
Aziraphale smiles as he brings over a hideous floral tea tray and sets it on the coffee table. “Don’t tell me you need some hand-holding after all, my dear.”
“Abssssolutely not!” Crowley retorts with an almond biscotti already halfway to his mouth. “Don’t you go and patronize me either, you overgrown cherub. I’d like to see you tote around a babe in your belly just for the thrill of it—then we’ll compare notes and talk.”
The angel holds up one palm in peaceful surrender while he sips around his tea. “Forget I ever mentioned it,” he says. “Silly of me to even suggest.”
Crowley keeps up his sulk for a good part of the afternoon, only extricating himself from the couch when Aziraphale gets dressed to run down to the shops and pop over to check on the store. He stays behind after spinning out some little white lie about feeling poorly, but does take himself into the hardly-touched master bathroom and start filling up the claw foot bath with hot water.
It’s something of a relic left over from when this flat was a tenement a hundred or so years ago, and hardly modern anymore by fashionable standards, but Crowley never really saw a reason to change it when he’d never set foot in the damn thing before. But it still gets piping hot and he lets the water run while he strips out of his pyjamas in front of the vanity, involuntarily shivering some as his bare feet touch the cold tile.
Crowley surveys his reflection in the mirror, curving a palm around the gentle swell of his stomach. He’s just around five months gone now, he reckons, if the child was conceived on the day they dodged the Apocalypse. His belly isn’t huge, yet, per se—but it’s getting there. Big enough to be something noticeable under his tailored shirts and beneath his coat.
He doesn’t often make a habit of gawking at his nude form in the mirror, lax as others would seem to believe it. It’s simply a human vessel, albeit one he’s had for, well, quite a long while. More lifetimes than he can seem to count anymore. He favors this one because it’s carried him through the ages—through Egypt, Mesopotamia, Rome, inner Chicago, rush hour on the tube the weekend before Christmas.
Now, to think it’s carrying a child.
Crowley sinks into his bath and lets it soothe some of the tiny pains camping in his hips and lower back when Aziraphale goes too long without blessing them away. He turns the water down to a trickle and lets it lap up over his belly and lower chest, lulled some in a strange way by the sound of the running tap.
“Feels a bit odd talking to you when I don’t even know you yet,” he says offhand, drumming his fingers over his abdomen. “Presumptuous of me, really, but your other Papa seems to insist.”
Crowley’s surprised by how easily papa rolls off his tongue, simple as anything, and holds it under his tongue like a stone for later. “We’re meant to get married, you know,” he adds, trying to keep on now that the spirit has moved him. “I don’t know when, exactly, but perhaps not even until you’re here. It’s anybody’s bloody guess. Satan knows I’ve never been lawfully wed before, so I’m not entirely sure what to expect. Same old, same old with my angel—just full time.”
“I have no qualms with having an illegitimate child, of course,” Crowley muses, idly rubbing around his middle. “Jesus himself was something of a bastard, really, when you think about it. Who else gets born into a manger by a thirteen-year-old with no immediate witness but some goats and a man old enough to be her great grandad? Joseph was ninety when the Messiah popped out. You tell me how that looks on paper when y—”
Crowley’s voice cuts out abruptly, breath caught fast in his lungs. Something hums within him, somewhere hidden deep where it radiates in an invisible outpouring—bleeding up into his chest, his pelvis, down his shoulders and into the tips of his fingers. It’s nothing like the ecstasy from sexual pleasure, but something else so all-encompassing and gently divine that it makes his eyes blur with tears.
It’s gone almost as soon as it appears.
Crowley sits there panting in the bath, feeling like he’s been rolled flat and shaken back out again, though nothing about it is painful. His head tips back against the edge of the tub and he closes his eyes, trying to figure out what’s happening to him and inside him all at the same time. He’d been stripped of his inborn grace so long ago, but the aftertaste of it lingers somewhere in the back of his throat, fading away before he can really sink his teeth into what he knew before he fell.
“Was that you?” he asks aloud, even if he already knows the answer. “Blimey, kid. A little fair warning would be nice next time.”
Crowley turns off the water at last and sits there gazing out his frosted window panes beyond the potted succulents thriving in the sill. He feels a bit stunned, truth be told, but not so thrown that he doesn’t almost immediately ring up the obstetrician and make an appointment for the following week. It takes more than just one miracle to get in without any known medical records on file, but eventually, at long last, the receptionist—Marsha, is her name—abruptly stumbles across his information in their system.
“This is your first baby at…?” Marsha starts to ask while she types away on the other end of the line, apparently taking a moment to squint at his file. “37? You must be so excited.”
Crowley tries to be pleasant as he paces around his flat, halfheartedly watching the door now that Aziraphale should be coming home any minute. “Something along those lines,” he tells her, and then barks out a laugh. “Funny thing, Marsha, sometimes I feel even older than that.”
They’re sitting in an OB/GYN clinic just shy of The Regent’s Park. It’s a Tuesday. Crowley’s reclining in an odd chair with metal stirrups that looks like something borne from the mouth of Hell itself, but for now he’s simply resting there with his Prada rollneck unceremoniously pulled up and a lot of sticky blue gel smeared all over him. Aziraphale is sitting beside him, beaming, finely manicured hands clasped together. Crowley supposes he’s been to comparable orgies before with half as much of the fun.
“Ah!—and there your wee baby is,” the matronly woman doing the scan says, gently rolling the sonogram wand somewhere on the right side of Crowley’s abdomen. He squints at the screen from behind his sunglasses but can’t make out anything impressive on the monitor—it all looks like a tremulous grey blob, though he’s privately relieved to not find any glowing red eyes or protruding ram horns.
“Oh my dear, look at that,” Aziraphale croons, eyes sparkling in the dim room behind his glasses. “Just magnificent, truly—our beautiful child.”
“I don’t know what you’re seeing, angel, because it all looks the same underwater Loch Ness footage to me,” Crowley murmurs, and the sonogram technician gives him a briefly quizzical look but then slides the wand around until she finds something gently fluttering.
“Your baby’s heartbeat,” she says warmly, and then begins pointing out other features on the screen—a foot, the top of the spinal column, the lungs, all perfectly forming. Crowley suddenly feels a bit faint, only gradually drawn back down to earth by the feeling of Aziraphale squeezing his hand.
“Everything looks right as rain so far, lads,” the technician says, and them looks up to smile brightly at them. “Would you like to know the sex?”
There’s a pause of momentum and movement in the room. Crowley looks between the screen and Aziraphale, and then at the technician. “Er,” he says. “Shouldn’t they decide all that for themselves?”
“Well, of course,” the technician says, brows drawing together. “But—”
“—I think we’ll wait and be pleasantly surprised either way,” Aziraphale says, nodding cheerfully at her. “But thank you for asking, madam.”
They speak briefly with both the obstetrician and a midwife on their way out, the latter of which inquiring curiously about their birthing plans for the baby’s arrival, but Crowley bypasses the desk and breezes through the door without bothering to make any further appointments. He stands in the sunlight outside, tall and svelte, looking very much like a handsome snake who swallowed a volleyball.
“I think I’d prefer a private home birth, angel,” he says, sniffing lightly. “Less people meddling in our personal affairs and my nether bits, thank you kindly.”
Aziraphale strolls along beside him as they start off at a walk, carefully tucking the sonogram pictures into the inner pocket of his overcoat. “I’ve heard they’re much more conducive to a calming and intimate experience,” he says, but then mildly clears his throat. “Do you think we are…capable, of delivering a baby unassisted?”
“Why on earth not?” Crowley asks. “I’ve seen it done plenty of times—those poor women in the middle ages used to squat in the peat fields and come back up with a baby in their arms. Natch, these days I wager we could pull up a tutorial on YouTube and have the whole process nailed down in fifteen minutes.”
They watch a motorbike pass on the street, during which Aziraphale’s expression flattens into something dubious. “You have boundlessly enduring optimism at the most peculiar times, dear,” he says. “Truly it is a marvel the likes of which I’ve been contemplating for at least the past three thousand years.”
Crowley only grins and claps his hand together as if sealing the deal. “It’s decided, then,” he says. “We’ll have the baby at home and it’ll be perfectly fine. Idyllic, even.”
Back at the flat that evening, after he’s potentially eaten double his weight in beef and veg stir fry, Crowley lays out their new sonogram pictures on the coffee table and makes careful study of each one, trying to discern the form and shape of his child.
“Should we be sharing this on social medias?” Crowley murmurs, holding one of the transparent films up to the light. “Several thousand souls didn’t get sold to Satan for these important life moments not to be exploited on Instagram.”
“I’ve never heard of such a thing,” Aziraphale says, busy rolling out pastry dough in the kitchen. He’s done up in a lace-trimmed apron over his shirt and tie, sleeves cuffed to the elbows with both hands dusted in flour. “But I think I’d rather keep our child un-exploited for now, dear. I’m sure you can find something else to share with your adoring public.”
“Nah, you’re right,” Crowley says, a bit pressed not to mention his minimalist botanicals account with nearly six hundred thousand followers. “It’s all gone a bit dodgy since Facebook bought them out, true enough.”
He spreads the sonogram pictures out again and leans back against the sofa with a sigh, running his fingers back through his hair. “For now I’m just glad there aren’t any horns or haloes popping up anywhere. Surely we’d have had some, er—visitors by now, d’you think? If that were the case.”
Aziraphale considers that for a moment while he lays out his pastry into a pie tin and carefully starts crimping the edges. “As far as I can tell, we’ve likely fallen off our superiors’ respective radars for the time being. I don’t know about your end of things, I certainly haven’t felt the Heavenly Call in quite a while.”
“Does that bother you?” Crowley asks, curious. “Feeling disconnected from the Powers That Be.”
“Honestly?” Aziraphale says cheerily, dusting his fingers with flour again. “Not in the slightest. It’s utterly freeing, actually. I imagine you’d be feeling quite the same without Hell breathing down your neck.”
Crowley snorts out a laugh. “That’s putting it lightly, angel.”
Aziraphale has started whisking together a meringue when he asks a moment later, brows knit tightly, “Considering we were in our respective biologically-intact forms when it was conceived, do you think this child is fully human?”
That makes Crowley pause. “Are you asking me if I think it’s mortal?”
“Primarily, yes,” Aziraphale says, slowing his whisk to stare vaguely into the middle distance at nothing in particular. “I…I don’t know if I wish to think about—the mere blink of the modern human’s lifespan, if it’s in regards to my own child.”
Oh. Crowley hadn’t even really thought things through that far, yet. He looks down at his rounded belly, warm and safe under his cashmere jumper, and touches it lightly. Aziraphale’s words run through his mind again and he feels his mouth turn down into a frown. How strange, to be sentimentally protective over a person or thing yet unborn—but in this moment he feels it curl and rise within him like wood smoke.
“I could make a deal,” he says abruptly, making Aziraphale’s eyes snap over. “If it meant me or the child, I would choose accordingly. S’not even a question in my mind.”
“You’ll do no such thing,” Aziraphale says curtly, rounding around with his meringue-coated whisk brandished like a sword. For a split second Crowley recalls the angel of the Eastern Gate, fiery blue eyes and a voice booming like thunder. “For you to even entertain such a thought, Crowley, selfless or not—I. I could not live to bear it.”
He tosses his whisk into his bowl of stiffening peaks and marches into the living room, still wearing his frilly apron, but seems to lose momentum once he’s standing there with Crowley lounging at his feet.
“I feel duly reprimanded, thank you,” Crowley says dryly, even as his throat works in place. “Your services are no longer required at the present moment.”
“You hush,” Aziraphale murmurs, and then lets out a huff as he slowly folds himself down to sit next to his partner. Crowley eyes him inquiringly but doesn’t move, letting out a soft sound of immediate ease when Aziraphale’s fine hand reaches up to splay over his abdomen, tender and reverential.
“This child will be loved and cherished,” he says quietly but resolutely, as Crowley feels the tiny spark of grace in his belly begin to stir. “No matter whom they are or what they are, whether they live a thousand mortal seconds or a thousand celestial years. By both of their devoted parents—nothing more and nothing less.”
Crowley feels drowsy with the blessing flowing through him, but clumsily reaches out to take Aziraphale’s face and turn it toward him for a kiss. “Is that all?” he asks.
“No,” Aziraphale says, smiling gently against Crowley’s lips. “I forgot to say ‘amen’.”
“Amen, then,” Crowley murmurs, reaching around to undo the bow at Aziraphale’s back. “And hallelujah.”
The egg whites have to be bullied and coerced, several hours later, into forming perfectly stiff peaks again, but it’s perhaps the best lemon meringue tart they’ve ever eaten.
The next few months fly by with little more than two shakes of a sacrificial lamb’s tail.
Crowley feels like he’s watching his stomach grow and expand in real time, and by month seven he’s nearly all but given up on his pressed trousers and silk shirts. He lives in his housecoat and silk boxer briefs slung low under his belly, and has even taken to wearing some of Aziraphale’s hideous old-timey nightshirts like some sickly Victorian child, though damned if they aren’t the most comfortable thing he’s had on in ages.
He still goes out with Aziraphale on a weekly basis, for the occasional luncheon and dinner, but also to find things for surreptitiously furnishing what is absolutely not a bloody nest he’s been building in the nursery for the past several months.
(It’s a nest.)
Truly, it’s little more than an enclave off the master suite built and held together with nothing but miracles and good intentions, but Crowley’s carefully outfitted it with an antique bassinet (scored for an absolute bargain off Craigslist, thank you very much), soft crochet blankets and sheer muslin curtains, a gliding rocker and a small collection of stuffed toys. The old biddies from his monthly book club group even pitched in together and bought them a pram, which is still in the box for now, propped in the front closet but inevitably waiting for its impending occupant.
Aziraphale knits hats and booties and blankets galore, going through so many skeins of yarn that he nearly puts the local shop out of half their inventory in a fortnight. After a point they mutually agree it’s all gone a bit excessive, really, and he makes a rather sizable donation to the shelter for expectant mothers and children, courtesy of Mssrs. A. Fell and A.J. Crowley.
Crowley basks in the warm ivory and dusty grey tones in the nursery, popping in a touch of powder blue or pale lavender here and there. Nothing about it feels particularly demonic, truth be told, but that lacking representation is easily mended by the plush toy snake Aziraphale brings home one day, a perfect addition in every way. It joins its mates on the shelf and Crowley cozies right up in the rocking chair whenever it suits his fancy, reading or exerting enticement and wiles on his shiny new tablet through Amazon shopping carts and superfluous monthly subscription boxes. He talks to the baby, too, telling them old stories of when the world was new, of the many adventures and encounters he had along the way.
It’s an easy life, really. Now all they have to do is wait.
Aziraphale is as doting as ever, fussing and puttering about the flat like he’s been there since Creation. Though sex has become something of a new obstacle with seven, eight, and eventually nine months of baby steadily growing between them, he indulges Crowley at the drop of a pin, spreading him out on their bed and kneeling between his thighs like a humble pilgrim to whisper sweet things against his skin while he laps Crowley’s slick folds open and delves deep with that heavenly tongue.
“Don’t love me too hard, angel,” Crowley rasps one evening when he’s on his knees in bed, bent over with his heavy belly hanging low and his face pressed against a pillow while Aziraphale takes him from behind. “You might put another—ah!—baby in me yet.”
“You would like that, darling, hmm?” Aziraphale says sweetly, even as he pistons his hips forward hard enough to make Crowley bury his face in the pillow and keen out a wail. “Filled with the light of grace and divinity until you’re positively dripping with it.”
“Yessss,” Crowley hisses, shameless about it now. He rocks back against Aziraphale’s cock, hands twisting in the sheets as euphoria becomes some distant point in his future, a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. “Fill me up, angel. I—I need it, need you to, oh fuck, oh Lord—”
Crowley trembles and Aziraphale smooths his hands over the demon’s back, soothing and tender. “How does it feel to carry an angel’s child?” he asks, even as he continues taking Crowley apart. “To hold the burning torch of heaven’s wrath and holiness so deep in your womb—”
If Crowley was ever going to answer, his words get swallowed up in the shallow sob that wrenches from his chest as he comes, nearly collapsing from the rapture of elation that bleeds through him if it weren’t for Aziraphale’s hands holding him up. Something inside him shifts and physically blossoms while balmy pleasure trembles through him, and then with a pop! and sudden gush, a surge of fluid rushes out of him all at once.
Both angel and demon go quite still, all presumptions of dirty talk and lovemaking long forgotten. Aziraphale looks down at the mess and says, belatedly, “I didn’t know you were a squirter, my dear.”
Crowley pants shallowly until he can catch his breath. “Didn’t think I was, either, last I checked,” he says, and then finally slumps down into the bedding so he can crane around to look with a disgusted expression. “I think that was my waters.”
“Your waters?” Aziraphale asks, dumbfounded.
“Yes, my blessed waters!” Crowley repeats, struggling to sit up despite the heaviness around his middle. There’s a twinge of pain low in his pelvis, just the slightest thing, but enough to confirm what’s about to happen.
“I think you’ll have to call and cancel our table at the Ritz,” Crowley says once Aziraphale’s blessed the mess away. “The baby’s coming.”
“To think we haven’t even gotten married yet,” Aziraphale laments, pacing a groove in the floor of the living room some time later. “I knew we shouldn’t have put it off, but you always manage to sway me somehow, you damned old serpent, and now here were are, on the eve of our child’s birth, unwed in the eyes of the Lo—”
“Do you think I give a rat’s arse about all that right now?” Crowley says from where he’s leaning against the back of the couch. “We have all the time in the world to get married, angel—the baby’s going to come regardless, tonight, and not be fussed either way about rings or papers or what He bloody well thinks.”
Aziraphale’s pacing slows, features drawn into something soft and morose all at once. “I only wanted to commit myself to you, wholly,” he says, but seems to have lost some of the frantic nerves from before as a new thought dawns upon him. “I suppose I’ve already done that, though, haven’t I?” Peace overcomes him for all of about five seconds, and then he bows his head again. “Oh merciful spirit high in Heaven, be with us now.”
“Heaven’s got nothing to do with this,” Crowley says, bracing his hands and stooping lower to sway some in place. He’s been in labor for just shy of around three hours now, and even if this is his first baby things seem to be moving much more quickly than either one of them anticipated.
“Oh, and for what it’s worth, I’m not giving birth on my bloody back,” Crowley adds, gritting his teeth as the next contraction takes him, forcing him down into a squat to relieve some of the pain. “This is how they did it in the old world, angel, if you can recall.”
“Yes, dear boy,” Aziraphale says exasperatedly, “but the options for safe and sensible childbirth were quite limited in the Desert of Paran for those forty years, you know.”
“Don’t care,” Crowley hisses, sucking in a deep breath as the pain finally recedes. “I grew this kid myself, and I’m going to harvest it how I damn well please.”
Aziraphale passes a tired hand over his eyes. “That’s entirely too macabre for the miracle of childbirth, but whatever helps you in your time of tribulation I suppose.” He sighs and goes around to the other side of the couch to take a seat, gently lacing his fingers together with Crowley’s to give him something else to push back against.
“You intend to have the baby on your several-thousand pound Italian leather couch?” Aziraphale asks while they wait for the next contraction. “I imagine we’ll be needing more than just a slip cover.”
“Don’t be daft, angel,” Crowley grouses. “I’ve decided I’m having a water birth. The hot bath is meant to dull some of the pains and ease the passage.”
Aziraphale nods despite looking a little breathless himself. “If that’s what you want, darling, I’ll be with you every step of the way.” He bites into his lip with worry as another contraction starts, making Crowley groan as the world’s oldest pain overtakes him. “They’re getting closer together now, aren’t they?”
“Yes,” Crowley says raggedly, and then swears something intelligible before his breath hitches. “I never should’ve told Eve to eat that fucking apple.”
“Yes, well,” Aziraphale says, guiltily swallowing down a chuckle. “It’s a bit late to go back and make amends, I think. You’ve made your bed to lie in.”
Crowley flashes him a vicious golden stare that doesn’t have the intended effect, because Aziraphale is only smiling at him, irritatingly sweet. The nearby houseplants tremble in fear or anticipation both, but Crowley decides to conserve his energy for later.
“Go and fill the bath, please, angel,” he says, pushing out a tight breath between pursed lips as he rests his forehead on the back of the couch. “I think it’s time to get this bloody show on the road.”
Ten minutes later, Crowley is submerged in blissfully warm water, naked from the waist down but still wearing one of Aziraphale’s old nightshirts hiked up above his belly. The white cotton sticks fast to his skin, melded around the gentle, tender swell of his chest now that his body knows a baby is coming. There are a few candles lit around the bathroom and golden light bleeds faintly from the bedroom where the bedside lamp burns, leaving a spell of intimacy in a room that seems to know what’s about to happen. But it feels safe, and strangely comforting, and Crowley does his best to focus on breathing and letting his body ready itself while the hot water distracts from some of the pain.
Aziraphale has been hovering nearby, occasionally pressing a cool palm to Crowley’s forehead to pass a gentle blessing through to him, as soothing as a placid breeze.
“You’re doing wonderfully, my dear,” he says, pushing some of the damp waves away from Crowley’s temples. “I’m in perpetual awe of your strength and magnificence throughout this undertaking.”
“Hold that thought,” Crowley says miserably, face pinching with pain. “We haven’t seen the real fireworks yet.”
“Soon, I think,” Aziraphale says, kissing his brow, and Crowley almost hates how much that alone calms him. “I feel the child’s grace growing brighter by the moment.”
It goes on like that for what must be another hour, perhaps two, until Crowley feels a distinct shift low in his belly. It’s a great pressure, heavy and urgent, and he knows right away that there’s no ignoring it. He wants to bear down against it, but a voice in the back of his mind tells him to wait until the next contraction comes.
“Angel,” he calls out, voice echoing slightly in the bathroom. “Come here.”
Aziraphale had gone to make himself a cup of tea and mix some herbal concoction together for Crowley, but whisks back into the room as quickly as if he’d never left.
“Crowley, are you alright?” he asks, padding in on socked feet. It’s late now—somewhere in the early hours of the morning, but Aziraphale looks as bright and gentle as ever despite his mussed curls. He waves his hand and the water heats up again, but when he looks more closely at Crowley’s face he understands why he was called.
“Oh, my dear boy,” he whispers, kneeling there on the rug at the side of the bath. “Are you quite ready?”
“To get this kid out of me?” Crowley asks, straining some. “More than.”
Aziraphale nods, wordlessly taking Crowley’s hands to help him up so he can kneel there in the water. The pressure mounting low in his pelvis is growing now, almost unbearable, and it’s difficult to focus on anything else but that and his breathing.
“Are you afraid?” Aziraphale asks, a sincere question spoken into the quietness of the bathroom. For a moment there’s no other sound but the soft sloshing of water and Crowley’s gentle panting.
“No,” he says, and then dips his head in something akin to defeat. “M—maybe just a little.”
“Don’t be, my love,” Aziraphale says, just before the next pain comes and makes Crowley’s human body and whatever scrap is left of his essence bear down with all the power of a tightly clenched fist. “I will carry you through if I need to.”
Crowley pushes, and pushes, and then the pain stops, only to start up again a few moments later. If he wails and gnashes his teeth or makes any undignified sounds he doesn’t remember it, and Aziraphale doesn’t remind him. The heaviness inside him peaks and eventually the burning between his legs is so great he reaches down as if to try and futilely miracle it all away, only to gasp when he feels the soft, wet hair of his baby crowning beneath his fingertips.
“Oh blimey, fucking hell,” he swears through a sob, caught somewhere between agony and emotion, eyes prickling with unshed tears. He knows, deep down, that no other demon has ever felt anything like this before. “Angel. Angel.”
Aziraphale is right there, because he’s never once left Crowley’s side. He lets the demon take his hand, looking only a little nervous, though his expression blooms into something of the sweetest awe and wonder when he feels their child for the first time.
“Imagine that,” the angel breathes out, drawing his hand from the water to rest it on Crowley’s taut belly. He seems to glow now in the dim bathroom, emanating that hazy halo that only Crowley can usually see anymore. “You’ve nearly done it, my dear. You’re almost there.”
Crowley braces himself again and bears down when his body contracts. Time seems to slow to a standstill, where his entire being and world is narrow enough to push through the eye of a needle. Perhaps this is how He had felt when the world sprung forth into being, the universe and the angels and the stardust pushed from an endless womb in the Almighty’s ripened belly.
Crowley thinks of the moment he realized he was Falling backwards into damnation and the ghostlike, intangible memory of his last glimpse of Heaven. He thinks of slick scales sliding on rough bark in the Garden, the way Eve screamed loudly enough to rattle the sky when she brought Cain into the world. He thinks of the End of Everything that nearly was, but wasn’t.
He thinks of Aziraphale, his angel, loving what shouldn’t have been loved.
“Anthony, my dear,” Aziraphale says. He sounds distant and nearby all at once, but Crowley knows by the gentle hoarseness in his voice that he’s weeping. “Reach down and take our baby.”
Crowley reaches down between his thighs into the water and takes a slick, impossibly small body by the shoulders, moving on some instinct he never knew he had, and with one last small push draws a purplish, silent newborn up into his arms and then against his chest.
It takes a moment that stretches into an endless eternity, but the baby gurgles and then lets out a wail. Reality slams back into Crowley in the same moment unfiltered sound returns like the unbridled reckoning.
“Oh, darling, just look at her,” Aziraphale is saying through tears, pressing a gentle kiss at Crowley’s temple while he miracles a warm receiving blanket into existence and drapes it over the baby. “She’s perfect, Crowley. Look what you’ve made.”
“I can see her, angel, I promise,” Crowley rasps as he sinks back into the water to rest, and then realizes slowly that he and Aziraphale have a daughter. A little girl. He shushes her cries and kisses her damp hair, astounded by both the relief and love surging through him now that she’s out and in his arms. The pain is gone, only a distant memory now—and here’s his baby, his strange little miracle he carried around for nine months after the would-be end of the world.
“Hello, little one,” he says, voice wobbling properly now as he touches her tiny face. “You’re awfully gorgeous for something I just pushed out of my bits into the bath, eh?”
The baby has gone mostly pink now, cries faded into tiny noises as she closes her eyes—still murky and as blue as a robin’s egg—to rest against Crowley’s chest, exhausted herself from coming into the world. She breathes gently, still warm under the blanket Aziraphale draped across them, and Crowley doesn’t know if he ever wants to move from the edges of this moment wherein he’s only just become a father.
Slight contractions are still at work in his body, though, and he rests there speaking in low tones to Aziraphale while they wait for the afterbirth to pass so they can tie off their daughter’s umbilical cord.
“Would you rather invoke the Old Testament or New Testament for her name?” the angel says, smiling deviously as he rests his chin on the side of the bath, gently stroking the back of the baby’s head with two fingers.
“Excuse me,” Crowley scoffs, “How about No Testament? What if I’d already had my heart set on Morgana or Jocasta?” He tries and fails to stifle a laugh, cowed into silence again when their daughter stirs and whines against him.
“You’re insufferable,” Aziraphale whispers back. “Even your own daughter thinks so.”
“How sweet,” Crowley says, shooting him a cheeky smirk. “She must take after her Papa.”
Aziraphale makes a show of rolling his eyes but doesn’t argue, and within a few more minutes the afterbirth delivers itself much to Crowley’s disgust. “Oh Lord, clean this mess,” he murmurs, sticking his tongue out at the bloody water he’s still sitting in. “I’m marinating in the Red Sea over here, angel. Help me.”
With a wave of Aziraphale’s hand the tub is suddenly spic and span, more pristine than it was the day it was made. “Come along, dearest,” he says, standing and helping Crowley carefully rise to his feet. “Let’s get you both put to bed.”
It takes another miracle, but Crowley snaps his fingers and nearly falls over with relief when his abdomen snaps right back to the way it was before this whole journey began nine long months before. He steps into a pair of his silk briefs while Aziraphale finds a nappy and swaddles their baby, and then reaches for her again once he’s settled in bed.
“I think,” Aziraphale breathes out at long last, glancing at the 5 a.m. readout on the digital clock, “we could do with a spot of tea.”
When he’s out putting the kettle on in the kitchen, Crowley lies down and tucks his daughter close to his chest, unfurling his wings at last with a flutter. It feels heavenly to stretch them out and he carefully bends one to drape around them like a soft, feathery cocoon, blotting out the early morning light slowly beginning to rise outside. The baby quiets some when she’s shielded, though she doesn’t stop fussing until Crowley’s drawn her into his arms and patiently helped her latch on at his chest.
“There you are, my sweet girl,” he says, relaxing more now himself. “Daddy’s got you.”
The baby’s gentle nursing feels odd to start, but within a few moments it’s soothing for them both. Crowley touches the delicate shell of her ear, the rosy apple of one soft cheek, the fine hair on her head, soft as silk and now dried down to a pale, strawberry blonde. She suckles until she begins to drowse, lashes slowly lowering as she tires.
Aziraphale returns with tea and a light sandwich, seeming surprised but pleased to see Crowley’s dusky wings shaken out into the room. “Where’s the baby?” he whispers, already careful not to wake her, and Crowley only gently raises a wing to reveal the tiny babe still nuzzled at his chest.
“Oh my,” Aziraphale says, kneeling there beside them to touch the downy-fine hair on her head himself, eyes rapt with love and devotion. “She is divine, isn’t she? And you are also exquisite, my dear.”
Crowley could say a lot of things, but he’s so tired and happy he only reaches out and gently holds Aziraphale’s face in one hand, careful not to disturb the baby. “Come to bed with us,” he says, and then—once the angel is sitting up in bed beside them, rubbing their daughter’s back and singing a soft song Crowley’s long since forgotten—he’s asleep within a matter of moments, dropped down into the kind of peaceful bliss he hasn’t known since the last light of heaven fell upon him.
It’s full-blown daylight outside when Crowley next opens his eyes, well-rested and heavy with sleep. Aziraphale is sitting beside him still, cradling the baby in one arm while he reads with the other.
“Ah, there you are,” he says, and then utters three words that nearly bring real tears to Crowley’s eyes. “I’ve ordered pizza.”
While they wait for the delivery car to pull up outside, Crowley takes the baby into his arms again and brings her up to his chest for another feeding. He props a pillow in his lap, letting her rest there while her tiny rosebud mouth works and her fist wraps around his finger, holding on tight.
“Have you noticed anything…ineffable, while I was asleep?” he asks, looking cautiously over at Aziraphale. They both peer down at the infant, with her ten fingers and ten toes, nursing away like any other healthy baby—distinctly lacking wings, horns, tails, haloes, and any other extraneous appendage.
“Not yet,” Aziraphale says with a shrug, though he smiles. “Perhaps we should give her time to grow into it.”
The doorbell rings, then, and he swings his legs over the side of the bed to march toward the flat’s foyer. “Coming, coming!” he calls out. “Just one moment.”
The delivery driver is a brown-skinned young man, bearded and handsome with his hair tied back at the nape of his neck. He smells remarkably like garlic knots and frankincense.
“Thank you, Hey-soos,” Aziraphale says genially, briefly glancing at the nametag pinned to the man’s shirt. “Oh, let me fetch you a tip, I’ve left it on the counter—”
“It’s Jesus, actually, but I appreciate the cultural inclusivity,” the Son says before handing Aziraphale the pizza box with a kind smile. “Can I come in and bring blessings for you and your family, Aziraphale? I came alone, scout’s honor.”
Aziraphale steps back into the flat and sets the pizza box to one side, eyes closing and heart swelling as his grace brushes the edge of the Messiah’s love and light. If he was afraid for even half a second, it dissipates as he realizes there is no danger here.
“Yes,” he says, voice shaking. “I would be honored.”
In the bedroom, Crowley has just finished nursing the baby and manifested one of his old hole-ridden Queen t-shirts on when Aziraphale walks in, looking quite ashen-faced despite the golden glow of his aura filling the room. He touches Crowley’s shoulder and leans in to whisper something in his ear, and then doesn’t leave his side even as a newcomer walks into the room.
“Crowley,” Jesus says in greeting, holding out a very human hand. “I don’t think we’ve ever met.”
Crowley doesn’t even have time to wonder if touching the Son of God will burn him alive until the Messiah’s shaking his hand up and down, and then smiling like they’re nothing more than old friends.
“I don’t usually make personal house calls anymore, but I figured this was a special occasion,” Jesus says, inclining his head toward the sleeping baby. “May I?”
“She’s just fallen back asleep before you got here, conveniently enough,” Crowley rasps out, and then swallows thickly. “W—what are you going to do to her?”
“Impart a blessing,” the Messiah says gently. “Nothing more, unless you’d rather wait or bypass it entirely for now.”
Crowley looks between Jesus and Aziraphale, and then down at his daughter. “I didn’t ring up and ask for your approval, you know,” he says, eyeing Jesus skeptically. “I imagine she’d likely get on just fine without it.”
Aziraphale looks like he’s gone and swallowed his own flaming sword for a moment, but Jesus only laughs. “Fair enough,” he says. “She has nothing to fear from me.”
Crowley worries his bottom lip as he mulls that over, and then nods slowly, though he keeps a protective hand around the infant’s back. “Go on then, if you must insist,” he says at last. “Do your worst.”
The Messiah doesn’t pick her up, but he gently swipes a thumb over the child’s forehead and says a quiet prayer in a form of Hebrew that far predates the Bible. When he steps back and only humbly inclines his head as he finishes his prayer, Crowley wonders why he was bracing so hard to meet his end when this was just another moment in his new beginning.
“That’s all, then?” he asks, meeting Jesus’s dark eyes, amazed that it doesn’t hurt to gaze into the face of God’s only Son.
“Yep, just a little Hallmark greeting from the fellow bastard born in a manger,” Jesus says with a wink, putting his hands in the pockets of his delivery uniform slacks. “If you ever need anything, you can call me directly—don’t go through Metatron. Between you and me, guy’s kind of an asshole sometimes.”
Aziraphale turns to look at him, hands fidgeting at the edge of his pullover. “I trust everything is—alright? Upstairs? With…” his eyes swivel toward the baby, and he lets out a gentle breath. “With my family.”
“You’re golden, my friend,” Jesus says, lightly clapping Aziraphale on the shoulder before taking his leave. “Congratulations again,” he says over his shoulder. “And eat your pizza before it gets cold.” They listen as the front door opens and shuts, and then he’s gone.
Crowley takes three deep breaths before he looks up at Aziraphale and says, dangerously quiet, “You let the Son of God. Into my apartment.”
Aziraphale blanches, hand come up to press against his mouth. “I must admit I didn’t have my head on straight in the moment, darling. But it was fine, wasn’t it? It was fine. He’s—he’s a pleasant fellow, isn’t he?”
“Eh,” Crowley says, shrugging one shoulder. “Seems personable enough.”
They eat pizza with peppers and mushrooms in bed while Buffy reruns play on the flat screen telly Crowley manifests on his far wall. The baby dozes, life trudges onward, and the earth they’ve called home for so long just keeps spinning.
“Thought it’d be a bit crass, you know, to name my kid after some old hussy from the Bible,” Crowley says around a mouthful of crust. “But those new-age baby names like Brayleigh and Jaeden making the rounds like the Plague? Grate on my sensibilities.”
“Heaven knows we want to appeal to your impossibly high aesthetic ideals,” Aziraphale says, winking as he pops a piece of bell pepper into his mouth. His voice softens some, eyes doing that sparkling thing that makes Crowley’s stomach tighten and flip in his belly. “We could wait, you know. Get to know her a bit better first. There’s no rush that I can see.”
“We’ve got to call her something, angel,” Crowley protests. “We’ve been cocking around this earth since blessed Eden, so it’s not like there’s any shortage of material to work from, here.”
When Aziraphale draws in a tight breath, Crowley expects to get told off for swearing in front of the baby when she’s less than a day old, but instead a peculiar looks spreads across the angel’s face.
“Say that again,” he says.
“What?” Crowley asks, eyes narrowed, and then laughs incredulously. “You can’t be serious. Where we met, angel? You old sap.”
Aziraphale smiles. “Why not?” he asks, shy and beautifully fond all at once. He leans over onto one elbow and sweetly kisses the back of their daughter’s head, glowing as he does it. Their combined grace hums and runs through Crowley like a live current.
Oh, how he hates being a sucker in love.
“Eden,” he says at last, testing it out on his serpent’s tongue for himself. It doesn’t feel as bad or grotesque as he’d perhaps thought—not after everything, and where they are now, tucked away in his flat with a baby and greasy box of pizza hand-delivered by the Messiah himself.
“Our little Eden after the end of the world,” Aziraphale says, taking Crowley’s left hand and kissing that, too, perhaps where a wedding band would rest on his third finger someday. It’ll be something to look forward to.
“Yeah, yeah,” Crowley gripes, though he’s the farthest thing from annoyed in the whole universe at this moment, smiling so much his face hurts. “Maybe it’ll stick. No promises.”
Funny thing, how it does.
Thank you so much to everybody who left kind comments on part one! I had so much fun writing this, especially the dialogue between Crowley and Aziraphale; playing their banter off each other is such a delight. I'll definitely be watching the series for the first time sometime this weekend :) Hope you've enjoyed!