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is that your flaming sword (or are you just pleased to see me)

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In hindsight, there had been clues. One of them was in the British Museum, in the Mesopotamia room.

“Look at this one, it’s just like your flaming sword. The one you gave away,” Crowley had said. He’d gestured with his elbow without taking his hands out of his pockets, a study in cool and casual. Not that Aziraphale was studying him. He was admiring the antiquities. Of course he was.

Aziraphale peered at the object in question. Sword from the reign of Sennacherib, king of Assyria from 704–681 BC (modern day Iraq), the label informed him.

“Does it?” he asked. “All I really remember is the flaming part.”

“Yeah, it’s almost exactly the same. I remember it clear as anything. Made quite an impression on me, actually,” Crowley said, catching Aziraphale’s eye in their reflection in the display case and then looking away.

Aziraphale himself had spent so many years worrying about the blessed thing that he had deliberately forgotten what it looked like as a self-defence strategy, and the end of the world had hardly been the time to admire its design, but he had no reason to doubt Crowley’s recollection.

“Oh, well, I’m sure you’re right. I just always found the overall effect rather – tacky. Ostentatious.”

“Yep, it definitely is that.”

“I suppose it’s not really my style, wading in and smiting people with a flaming sword, is it?”

Crowley’s eyes were hidden behind his sunglasses, but just as he had known that Crowley was meeting his eyes in the glass, Aziraphale could tell that he was being given a sideways glance now.

“No, I suppose it isn’t,” was all he said. He licked his lips and turned away to the next case, tugging on Aziraphale’s arm to make him follow and not letting go even when he did.

Aziraphale rather liked it when Crowley relaxed enough to casually manhandle him, but he wasn’t about to admit to it. There might have been – developments in their physical interactions in the weeks since the world hadn’t ended, (the sort of developments that involved hands and hot breath on bare skin and an intimate knowledge of what Crowley’s tongue felt like on his inner thighs) but their topics of conversation were reassuringly as they always had been, and the subject remained safely unspoken of. They weren’t American, for Heaven’s sake.

*

The next clue was more direct.

Aziraphale did of course deploy miracles to keep his bookshop clean, but there was something soothing about the human rituals of domesticity. The analogue approach to dusting had much to commend it, especially these days when he could do it around the dark form of Crowley lounging on his sofa or leaning against the very shelf he wanted to dust, and generally getting delightfully under foot.

He even tolerated Aziraphale taking hold of him by both shoulders and moving him out of the way of the shelf (poetry, A-J) with what looked like a fond smile, even as Aziraphale’s palms seemed to tingle at the contact. It was only a very little bit of contact, but laying hands on his friend in public (not that there were any customers present, but there could have been), in the daytime, as a prelude to nothing more than dusting struck, him as shockingly intimate.

Crowley let himself be moved and took up residence on the sofa instead.

“You might make yourself useful,” Aziraphale grumbled, knowing that Crowley would understand the complaint for what it was. “If you aren’t doing anything, I mean.”

Angels, as a rule, speak in the imperative, and Aziraphale’s pathological inability to so much as ask for a cup of tea was just one of the qualities that had made him stand out among the heavenly hoards. He was eternally grateful that Crowley didn’t need anything so crude as a direct request: often a pleading look was enough for his needs to be met, if not outright anticipated before any looks had even come into play.

“I might, yeah,” said Crowley agreeably, stretching out more comfortably on the sofa. They both knew he was going to do what Aziraphale wanted, but he couldn’t be seen to be doing it too obviously. Even if they were reasonably confident there wasn’t anybody to see him, old habits die hard.

“It’s just that I can’t quite reach up here, and your corporation is ever so slightly taller than mine, my dear…”

“Alriiiiiiight,” groaned Crowley theatrically, dragging himself to his feet. A matching feather duster appeared in his hand.

He brandished it before him threateningly, prepared to run through the first dust that got in his way.

“That is not how you hold a sword, Crowley,” Aziraphale told him.

“That’s because this is a duster, angel.”

“Then I can see I shall have to explain dusting to you, shan’t I?”

He stepped forward, reaching for the shelf, and Crowley parried him with a flashy, untrained thrust like something from a moving picture (which was clearly where Crowley had picked it up).   

“Is that a sword in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?” he said with a leer.

Aziraphale frowned. “I’m always pleased to see you.”

“Oh, for - ” Crowley began with a growl before cutting himself off as the words sank in. “That’s very nice of you, but not where I was – are you really?”

“Of course I am.”

A pleased, starry-eyed smile seemed to be threatening to take over from his leer, but Crowley forced it back. Years of practice, and all that.

He waved the feather duster again, a sinuous circle in the air that left his ribs entirely undefended, and Aziraphale almost immediately regretted what he did next because it brought the game to an immediate end just when he was beginning to suspect there was something interesting going on. With a professional flick of his wrist, he knocked the duster from Crowley’s hand and waggled the feathered end of his own in front of the demon’s face reprovingly.

“We do not sword fight in the bookshop, Crowley,” he said sternly. He was reasonably sure stern was what Crowley wanted from him, even if the reason why still eluded him.

Crowley’s face did A Thing. He seemed to melt into the poetry A-J shelf behind him, head resting beside Byron’s Don Juan, lips slightly parted, as if Aziraphale had struck him a mortal blow.

Aziraphale lowered his duster and frowned at him in confusion.

“Crowley?”

There was something a little bit off about Crowley’s smile as he pushed himself upright again. He gave Aziraphale’s arm a lingering squeeze, snagged his erstwhile weapon from where it had landed on the sofa and sauntered away to the other side of the shop.

“Course we don’t. No sword fighting in your bookshop. Wouldn’t dream of it,” he said with a devilish wink.

“Crowley?” said Aziraphale again. “Are you quite alright?”

“Me? Oh, yeah, fine, yeah.” He took a deep breath, as if he was about to say something else, and then stopped.

Aziraphale looked at him encouragingly.

“No, it -just reminded me of your sword, that’s all. The flaming one. You know, you pinning me against the wall with it like that - ” he gestured airily to the shelf, “and, uh, I don’t know, smiting me with holy love or something.”

He directed an unmistakable onceover at Aziraphale’s physical form, perhaps justifiably doubtful that his message would get across without it.

But to their mutual surprise, Aziraphale had understood him perfectly.

“Oh I see,” he said.

Crowley opened his mouth, then closed it again. The unexpected success of communication had left them both at a bit of a loss for words. Eventually he continued, a little too fast and a little too casual:

“Which is weird, because I only thought about it after you’d already given it away. S’pose I only wanted you to do it because you were the kind of angel who actually wouldn’t do it - it’s not a – a- a general thing, for any old angel with a sword or anything.” He shuddered. “Ugh. Can you imagine. Gabriel, or – or Sandalphon -”

Aziraphale found he was picturing it (not Gabriel or Sandalphon. The other part). He gazed at Crowley, his friend, imagining him pinned against the wall of Eden with that sword to his throat. Would he have been breathless and undone, gazing wide-eyed at Aziraphale just as he had with his back to the poetry shelf? Would he have licked his lips and swallowed, stayed very still as Aziraphale tipped his chin back with the blade and pressed even closer? Or would he have struggled, fought back, made Aziraphale pin his wrists and hold him down? Hold him down so that he might -

“And when you say smite you with holy love, you mean…?”

Crowley pulled a face which eloquently expressed the human feeling of it’s completely obvious, you idiot, why would you want me say this out loud?

“No no, I know what you mean, I just wondered if there were - specifics.”

“Oh. No. No, it sort of – I got to know you, and. You know. Felt a bit weird going into detail once we were already friends.”

“Right.”

“Yeah. Well. Ok then. I’ll do the Jeffrey Archers for you, shall I?” asked Crowley, and fled all the way out of the shop.

Aziraphale, like a coward, let him go.

*

Aziraphale couldn’t think of anything else all day, but he was damned if he was going to let on. He had had thousands of years of practice in hiding his feelings regarding Crowley, both from himself, and Crowley, and from anybody else who might have taken an interest. He could manage one more afternoon.

Crowley had come back to the bookshop after half an hour, with pastries. He had presented them with the air of a man who knew that the Oxford English Dictionary had talent scouts in the area and were looking for the living embodiment of the word ‘nonchalant’. Aziraphale, being one of the least nonchalant beings in creation, most sincerely admired this capacity of his, and hadn’t felt it either right or appropriate to say anything to perturb him beyond, “Thank you, my dear.”

As the afternoon wore on, however, he found himself questioning why he was still trying to hide anything. Didn’t everybody who might conceivably care already know? In the eyes of their former colleagues, the two of them were already irrevocably bound together in unforgivable, treacherous allegiance. How exactly they passed their time made no difference to that. The only person left who might take an interest in what Aziraphale was thinking where swords and holy love and Crowley were concerned was Crowley himself, and it didn’t seem quite fair to have encouraged his confession only to pretend he hadn’t said anything at all.

If Crowley had mentioned it, it was because he wanted Aziraphale to know. Wanted him to think about it. Possibly even wanted him to do something about it.

Had they been human, they might have struggled with the transition from being hereditary enemies to allies, to clandestine friends, to defying the eternal structures of divine and satanic authority to save the world together, to an unbreakable celestial/occult alliance that involved a lot of going out for lunch, taking in the best of London’s cultural scene and having incredibly good sex that they never talked about. As it turned out, Aziraphale was struggling a little with this too.  

For example, sometimes Crowley liked to go to sleep after the incredibly good sex. He would fall apart under Aziraphale’s hands and mouth, ride him like he was desperate for it, kiss him deep and wet and filthy – freely hand over his entire human body to whatever pleasure Aziraphale cared to take from it, and then as they lay together afterwards, his eyes would gradually close and his breathing slow until he was asleep. To date, Aziraphale had taken this as his cue to depart: he’d never hung around while Crowley slept before, he had reasoned, so why would he start now? But he had found himself looking on wistfully as he collected up his clothes from where they had been flung, or dropped, or dispatched to another dimension in their haste, half wishing he might linger. The boundary between sex and not-sex seemed more porous than he had expected.

He could put his hands all over Crowley’s body when they were in bed (or on the sofa, or the rug, or once in the car when there was nobody around) and be sure of their welcome – Crowley had a delightful repertoire of sounds and subsequent actions that made it quite clear how welcome. But where did that leave him not-in-bed? Should he operate under the old rules of a few careful inches of distance? Or were there new rules now, that allowed Crowley to take his arm in the British Museum and Aziraphale to gently move Crowley out of the way in his bookshop as the norm rather than the exception? The old certainties had been eroded as much by the sex as by the near-miss apocalypse.

It wasn’t like their other activities. Having lunch was a discreet event in itself, and he’d never felt the need to talk about what it meant. In hindsight, perhaps he ought to have done. He was familiar with (although pained by) the concept of the business lunch, which merely implied two people were working together in some capacity. Was that how Crowley had seen all their outings over the centuries? He didn’t think it was, but they certainly ticked all the qualifying boxes, so how could he be sure?

Crowley had been the one to float the idea that they were friends, and it was to Aziraphale’s eternal shame that he had ever denied it. (Had that really only been a couple of months ago? He had been a different angel back then. Everything had been different then.) He couldn’t take back what he had already done, but he could at least make sure not to compound his error.

As always, Crowley had made the first move and now it was up to Aziraphale to meet him half way.

*

He waited until it was dark and Crowley was absorbed in whatever he was doing on his phone. (“Commenting on YouTube videos,” was his usual reply whenever Aziraphale asked, or occasionally “Just making another post on LinkedIn that starts with the word inspiring, hashtag #workhardplayhard. Maybe I’ll make this one go viral...”)

It was easy enough to shape a slice of firmament into something resembling a sword, give it the sort of flames that caught the attention but wouldn’t even toast a marshmallow, let alone singe a demon of whom one was inordinately fond. It was a little harder to step out into the lamplight, swing it expertly and strike just the right note of unconcern when he said,

“Is this the sword you meant?”

Crowley’s head shot up.

He froze in place as Aziraphale took a slow step towards him, mouth open in surprise. (How surprised was he, really?) At Aziraphale’s second step, he dropped his phone and untangled himself from the sofa with long-limbed grace to back away from the flaming sword pointed at him.

“Yeah, that’s the one,” he said on a shaking exhale.

“Oh, good.”

“What are you going to do with it?” Crowley asked, retreating again.

Aziraphale advanced again.

“I don’t know yet,” he said honestly. “Depends on you.”

Crowley took another step back, hands held up placatingly and his mouth curving with the hint of a smile. “You wouldn’t hurt an unarmed man, would you, angel?”

“You’re a demon, not a man, but no, I wasn’t planning on hurting you.” Then, second-guessing himself: “Unless I have to. In which case I won’t hesitate,” he added, hesitantly.

Crowley’s smile twitched, but he backed away again as if he really were afraid. And then he couldn’t go any further, because the bookshop was a small and cluttered space not at all suited for sword fighting or smiting, and he had already reached the far wall.

Aziraphale stepped forward again, right into his space.

He held the blade quite steady, almost touching Crowley’s throat. Pinned with the wall at his back, he couldn’t move away.

Crowley’s lips were slightly parted, his eyes wide, and this close Aziraphale could hear how fast he was breathing. He raised the sword to Crowley’s chin, forcing his head back. Normally Crowley was a little taller than him, but he was leaning back far enough, knees bent awkwardly, that Aziraphale had the height advantage.

“Was it something like this you had in mind?” he asked. If he had left it up to his human body to speak as it wanted, there would have been a tremor in his voice.

“Yeah,” Crowley cleared his throat. “Yeah, it was.”

“So what happens next?”

“You’re the one with the sword at my throat, you tell me.”

“No, I think you ought to tell me.”

He leaned in closer so they were touching from chest to knee, forcing Crowley to spread his legs to make room for him. He could feel Crowley’s thighs against his, the heat of the human body he inhabited so perfectly.

“As you say, I’m the one with the sword at your throat. I could make you tell me.”

Crowley’s eyes fluttered closed for a second, and when he met Aziraphale’s gaze again he licked his lips. A darting, snakelike motion.

“Yeah. S’pose you could,” he breathed. “You can make me do anything you want.”

Oh, and that was horribly true, wasn’t it? It always had been, a terrifying privilege he knew he didn’t deserve. But this wasn’t about what he wanted at all.

Faced with an infinity of options, he might as well throw some out there and get his bearings.

“I could have you right here, if I wanted,” Aziraphale said mildly. “Turn you around, take you like this.”

He felt Crowley’s shaky exhale on his face, but he gave a tiny shake of his head. Alright: liked the general idea, but that wasn’t what he wanted now.

“But then I don’t need a sword for that, do I?” and he didn’t. They’d already done it up against the shelves more than once, Crowley clinging on for balance and bracing himself as Aziraphale fucked him deep and slow. So what was it that Crowley wanted from him now?

With his free hand, he reached up to Crowley’s sunglasses.

“May I take these off?” No, that was wrong – may I was wrong, when you were playing the avenging angel you didn’t say may I to the demon you held at your mercy –

But Crowley’s mouth fell open and he seemed to melt into the wall.

“Yeah,” he breathed, less than a whisper.

When Aziraphale slid the dark glasses off, his eyes were very golden in the lamplight. Where their hips were pressed together, Crowley’s erection was a hard line of promise against him, his hands loose fists at his sides.

“I don’t think you told me the truth, before. I think there are specifics. I think you know perfectly well what you like and what you want - ” he held the sword steady, wrapped his free hand around Crowley’s wrist and pressed his hand against the wall beside his head.

He was terrified, he realised. As terrified as he had ever been at the thought of getting this wrong. Of being rough when Crowley wanted him gentle, of being soft when Crowley wanted him firm. There was nothing for it but to keep on asking, to make his best guess, trust that if Crowley wanted this from Aziraphale, the angel whom he had known for 6000 years since he first gave away the sword, then his instincts would steer him where Crowley wanted them to go.

His mouth was dry when he murmured, “Tell me what you want, Crowley. Tell me what you like.”

“You already know.”

He began to protest but Crowley cut him off.

“You do.”

What did Crowley like? He seemed to like everything they did together, but if pressed –

“Perhaps I do, but I’d like you to tell me anyway.”

Crowley’s grin was all teeth and nerves.

“Knew you’d be good at this,” he said.

“Smiting somebody with holy love is a very precise business, Crowley. It isn’t a one-size-fits all sort of intervention. And - ” he added, feeling his way, “it isn’t a process you impose, you know. It only works if you want to be – smited.”

The word was expanding in meaning every time they used it, and all Aziraphale could say for sure was that it no longer met the definition used by either of their former head offices. It never really had, when Aziraphale used it in Crowley’s direction. It had always been a figleaf that meant lending a hand and having lunch and liking his company and keeping all of that very, very secret. Never breathing a word of it out loud, even to each other. If those Oxford English Dictionary talent scouts had been in town, they might have taken umbrage with the contortions Aziraphale and Crowley were forcing the word smite to perform.

“It only works if you want to smite,” Crowley replied.

Aziraphle looked pointedly at the sword he still held to Crowley’s throat, and Crowley went cross-eyed for a second trying to do the same.

“Normally I wouldn’t,” he said. “As you said, by nature I’m not really much of a smiter. But you always could talk me into things.”

“Only the things you already wanted to do anyway.”

“That was rather my point, yes.”

“Oh,” said Crowley, a little soft droplet of sound. “I see what you mean.”

Crowley looked right into his eyes, and before Aziraphale could press him again he blurted out:

“I hadn’t actually thought this far ahead, I just wanted to tell you. The thing. About the sword. Thought you’d like to know, how long I’d been – thinking about you. Like that. I wanted you to know, now that we – we can -”

He shook his head in frustration.

“Go on,” Aziraphale breathed. The angle of the sword was less and less menacing and more and more an afterthought that had served its purpose and was now getting in the way.

“I mean, there’s no reason not to tell you. Say all of it out loud. Thought I’d work up to it with a, a, sex thing - ”

Aziraphale’s hips moved of their own accord, an instinctive thrust against the heat and physical reality of Crowley’s body. Crowley’s other hand came to rest at his waist, holding on, pulling him closer. He didn’t think either of them had ever actually said the word sex out loud to each other before, and there was no denying the potency of hearing it now.

“I mean, we never said, and you probably got the idea anyway. I like you, I like everything with you. Have done for thousands of years. You know that. Don’t you? You do. Course you do. I like everything you do to me. I like it when you lie back and let me have my wicked way with you. I like doing it down here with your books. I like it when you want it so much you just - take over. I like - ”

But he couldn’t finish that thought because Aziraphale had dropped the sword and was kissing him. Pressing him back into the wall and pulling them flush against each other.

“That’s very - gratifying to know,” he gasped against Crowley’s mouth. “I – I think I should take you to bed now, don’t you?”

It was a cop-out and he knew it, but Crowley let him get away with it like he always had.

“You definitely should, yeah,” he said, pulling his hand free and looping his arm around Aziraphale’s neck.

In his defence, it was already very difficult to find words for something that had been a life-or-death secret for 6000 years, and with Crowley kissing his neck and sliding clever hands inside his clothes it was almost impossible. He had at least managed to state his physical intentions out loud and that was already a step up, wasn’t it? Until now they had rather relied on the alchemy of the universe to push them wordlessly together, and while it had certainly been there for them when they needed it, he had to admit that Crowley’s frankness had much to commend it.

The thrill of those words still echoed in his ears: I like you, I like everything with you. Have done for thousands of years. He knew, of course he did, but to hear it out loud was a clear challenge to the old order of things.

They got a little sidetracked on the way up the stairs, the slick slide of their mouths together too compelling to keep walking. A little more time to gather his thoughts, match Crowley for bravery, tell him –

“You said bed, but for the record, the stairs is fine by me,” Crowley panted.

And rather than anything substantive, Aziraphale hear himself say, “Yes, but if one of us falls down them and discorporates it would be a bureaucratic nightmare and I won’t enjoy myself half as much if I’m worrying about it.” Which was a valid point, but not the definitive statement he deserved.

“So take me to bed then, angel,” Crowley whispered hot in his ear.

They both agreed that gravity was some of the Almighty’s best work, and it was gravity that tumbled them straight into bed before they’d even taken their clothes off. Crowley kissed him deep and a little bit dirty, like his mouth was remembering all the other places it liked on Aziraphale’s body and wanted to remind Aziraphale’s mouth about what it did in those places. Crowley’s thigh was between his legs, positively begging him to rut against it, and with just a smidgen of a miracle he was able to get Crowley’s jeans open and his hand down the back of them. Crowley retaliated by sliding his hand up Aziraphale’s shirt, and that first touch to his bare skin made him catch his breath, as if his ribs hadn’t event existed until Crowley’s hand called them into existence.

An undefined period of time later, Crowley was failing to wriggle out of his jeans, apparently resisting the logical conclusion that if he was determined to do this the physical, human way he was going to have to sit up at the very least.

“That’s not going to work, Crowley,” Aziraphale told him, and pushed him off to do it for him. “Unless you’d rather I miracled everything off -”

“No, no, like this, carry on like this, it’s – I – like it when you do it – the human way,” Crowley panted, pulling Aziraphale’s hand back to his belt buckle.

“Oh, well in that case…”

He lifted his hips and helped Aziraphale pull him out of his clothes, and once he was naked it was a constant stream of everything Aziraphale had sometimes guessed but never heard out loud.

“You should just – spread my legs,” he choked out, with Aziraphale’s left hand on his knee and Aziraphale’s right hand deliciously high on his bare thigh. “Turns me on when you just – ah! – (“sorry,” said Aziraphale, who had involuntarily dug his fingers into that irresistible thigh) – put me how you want me.”

“Oh, my dear,” said Aziraphale, doing just that, the magnetic force of his desire pulling him down to cover Crowley’s body with his own, welcomed between his legs.

He was welcome everywhere, wanted everywhere. Crowley hissed, “yesss,” and dug his hands into Aziraphale’s hair when he let his teeth scrape against one nipple and then the other. Made a desperate, strangled sort of noise when Aziraphale licked all the way down his cock, and pleaded, “yesyesyes, don’t stop, don’t stop.” 

“I wasn’t going to stop, Crowley.”

“You just did! To talk to me!”

“Then stop telling me what to do and let me get on with – smiting you.”

“Fine! Then get on with it,” Crowley begged, and with that kind of licence to not dwell on his finer feelings, Aziraphale did get on with it.

Apparently not fast enough though, because just when he was really enjoying the vision that was Crowley flat on his back, head thrown back and mouth open, heels digging into the mattress as he writhed on Aziraphale’s slick fingers, Crowley was surging up in impatience. Rolling them over and settling on top of him, knees either side of his waist. Aziraphale had to push rather hard to roll them back the way they had been, pin Crowley’s hands above his head to make his point in the spirit of if Crowley had really wanted to be on top he would have said so.

Crowley blinked up at him, mouth half open in surprise. He was flushed, breathing hard and utterly pliant.

“Apparently I also like it when you do that,” he panted. “We should definitely have tried this sooner. You could have sold it as a smiting, I could have claimed it as a temptation, bob’s your uncle. I thought about it a lot but I never thought of that. Stupid. Stupid!”

“What?”

“I had a load of ideas. About how you’d - ” he broke off with a moan as Aziraphale slid his fingers back inside him and crooked them just so – “how you’d be when you were – having sex – with me – what it’d be like – but I never really thought - ah! Yesyesyes, like that! Oh - ”

It was almost too much, Crowley completely undone and telling him he’d thought about it, about this, their human bodies wringing worldly pleasure from each other when Aziraphale had hardly dared acknowledge they were friends, not even in the privacy of his own head.

“Thought it’d be no big deal to you, you’d see it like – ah – like lunch, you know, just one more thing to do on earth…”

“No,” Aziraphale said at once, moving up so he could see Crowley’s face, as if eye contact and a kiss were enough to express how enormously more than lunch he was and had always been. “No, it’s – you’ve always been – so very dear to me.”

Crowley’s face wobbled for a second and all of Azirphale’s angelic senses lit up with the pulse of love that filled the tiny space between them, the bed, the bookshop, the whole street, Soho and all of London.

“Aziraphale, I - ”  

“Please stop talking now,” said Aziraphale desperately, lining his cock up against Crowley’s hole and trying to show just a little bit of self-restraint before he completely lost himself in the orgasm he could feel building. “I’m still trying to smite you like you wanted, and I really don’t feel at all smitey towards you when you say things like that.”

“Want me to be quiet?”

“No. Absolutely not. Don’t be quiet, just – ah…” and he slid inside, into the tight heat of Crowley’s body.

Crowley wasn’t quiet, but he wasn’t really talking any more. It was just gasps and moans, once, “harder, give it to me,” and once: “there! Yes!” and little broken off cries that shivered down Aziraphale’s spine and made his toes curl with wanting him.

Crowley moved with him, holding him close, that human form strong and lithe underneath him and the flicker of his demonic essence dancing like electricity through all his nerve endings.

With all the supernatural powers at their disposal, they ought to have been able to make the plateau stage of the human sexual response last for as long as they wanted. But just as the humans understood that it was sometimes more than an insert tab A into slot B meeting of bodies, so too was Aziraphale realising that perhaps the fleeting intensity was part of the point. Bursting joy’s grape, and all that, and if the grape could burst for 17 hours it wouldn’t be quite the same.

Crowley screwed his eyes closed, choked out, “oh Satan – Aziraphale – Iloveyou – oh shit - ” and came. Clenching and fluttering inside, hips bucking as he fucked himself deeper and deeper. Arching his back for more, the pale column of his throat was exposed and vulnerable, spreading his legs still further apart to pull Aziraphale closer.

It went on and on, wave after wave of it, his cock jerking in Aziraphale’s hand. Filled with a savage tenderness, Aziraphale gave him everything he could, holding on in desperation for just a few more seconds to let Crowley ride out his orgasm.

“Come inside me,” Crowley gasped.

Aziraphale thrust three, four, five times, and came so hard it felt like a wall of light had swept him away.

 

They clung to each other and breathed shakily for a moment, embarrassingly overwhelmed. Aziraphale hid his face in Crowley’s neck as Crowley clung to him, heartbeat gradually slowing.

 

“Thank you for telling me about the sword,” he whispered into Crowley’s shoulder.

“Shut up,” Crowley muttered, pulling Aziraphale’s arm tighter around him. “Was brilliant. ‘M gonna tell you loads of things now, I’ll never shut up. You’ll wish you never let me get started.”

“I won’t, you know.”

“You will. It’ll be wall-to-wall filth and depravity. Perversions beyond your wildest dreams.”

“I have lived in Soho for three hundred years, my dear, I think I can take it.”

“Yeah, but this’ll be all about my feelings. I’ll tell you if I’m emotionally fulfilled. I’ll start asking where you think our, our - ” a look of mild panic crossed his face, like a man who has deliberately gone to the top of a ski slope and is now realising he has to come down it, and he spat out a sound where only an initial ‘r’ sound and a ‘p’ at the very end were audible “- is going. The really disgusting stuff.”

The word he had not said was quite clearly ‘relationship’, but he had done so splendidly well in getting them this far that Aziraphale could hardly complain if he balked at the final hurdle on his very first time around the course. Nor was he quite able to clear the hurdle himself, but they could certainly walk around it together.

Aziraphale curled himself tighter around Crowley, took a deep breath and felt Crowley tense in his arms, bracing himself. Aziraphale couldn’t put him through that for a second longer so even if he wasn’t going to make it all the way over, he just had to jump.

“I liked it when you pulled my arm in the museum.”

He could practically hear Crowley digesting that statement.

“I like it when you’re in my way when I do the dusting. I – I like it when you pop out and then come back again – Crowley, do stop laughing, I mean it!”

“That’s it, I give up. You win. I should have known! I should have known you’d win!”

“It isn’t a competition!”

“I know! But you’ve won anyway. Go on, tell me something else.”

“Not if you’re just going to laugh at me.”

“I won’t!

“Yes you will, it’s written all over your face.”

“I won’t, I promise you, angel – say whatever you like.”

So Aziraphale closed his eyes and unfurled his wings and told him a number of things that he would not wish anybody but Crowley to hear, about his relative value compared to lunch, sick and depraved activities like holding hands and a pathetically vanilla sex act he especially liked, and one or two things deliberately chosen to make him laugh again after he’d promised that he wouldn’t. Because he was, after all, just enough of a bastard to be worth liking and fortunately for him, Crowley liked him very much indeed. Sometimes he would go as far as to tell him so when there wasn’t even a flaming sword to his throat.