Aziraphale sat next to Crowley on the bus home to London, and, well―no one could blame him for wanting Crowley close, for wanting reassurance that they’d done it, they’d made it through an almost-apocalypse in one piece. It was a very human thing, really, to seek comfort through touch.
“You alright, then, angel?” Crowley murmured next to him. He was slouched in his seat as he usually was, and bus seats being what they were, there was no space between them.
“I’m fine,” Aziraphale said automatically.
“You’re shaking,” Crowley said, remarkably gently.
He was, he realized. Human bodies were strange, and wonderful, and after all this time, still able to surprise him.
“Ah,” Aziraphale said belatedly. “Shock, I suppose.”
“Could be,” Crowley agreed, and gave him a sidelong glance, one he still couldn’t quite parse after six thousand years together. “Could miracle you up one of those blankets medics are always throwing over people.” He paused. “Or another bottle of wine.”
Aziraphale nodded his head to the clearly posted sign that warned passengers that eating or drinking on board the bus was prohibited.
“Really?” Crowley said, unimpressed. “You rebelled against Heaven and Hell this afternoon, but this is where you draw the line?”
“I have standards,” Aziraphale huffed.
“Don’t I know it,” Crowley sighed. And then, like he’d done it a hundred times before, he covered Aziraphale’s hand with his. His skin felt cool to the touch, and somehow managed to carry the feeling of a serpent’s scales.
It was Aziraphale who turned his hand palm-up, and laced their fingers together, as though he’d done it a hundred times before as well, and he felt―well, rather daring.
When he gave Crowley a sidelong glance of his own, Crowley was looking straight ahead, as if nothing at all out of the ordinary was happening.
They held hands the entire way back to London, where the bus made a very unscheduled stop in front of a hotel in Crowley’s neighborhood, and Aziraphale didn’t have the heart to chastise him at all. He just followed Crowley off the bus, and accepted his offer of a hand down to the street.
“Thank you,” Aziraphale said. “It’s been a long day, hasn’t it?”
The corner of Crowley’s mouth quirked a bit, but he still hadn’t dropped Aziraphale’s hand. He nodded his head back to the hotel. “Shall we?”
Aziraphale tried very hard not to think about his bookshop. “It’s really very kind of you to―”
“Tell the whole neighborhood, angel,” Crowley muttered, and pulled Aziraphale into the lobby.
It was very sensible of Crowley to have them stay at a hotel, and he told him so.
“No point in making it easy on them to find us―either side,” Crowley said under his breath as they fetched up to the reception desk and turned his rather remarkable wiles on the hotel clerk. “We’d like your best suite,” he said, assuming a charming expression. “It’s our anniversary.”
Then he put his arm around Aziraphale’s waist.
“Yes,” Aziraphale said faintly. “Our―anniversary.” He felt almost as if he were tucked under Crowley’s wing, which was obviously not true from a metaphysical standpoint, but it had the impression of shelter and warmth and made something of a shiver run down his spine.
“Happy anniversary,” the clerk said brightly. She was young, and taking classes during the day, and studying during her night shift at the hotel. She loved accounting and daffodils and worried a great deal about her younger sister, which―oh, yes, rather a lot to worry about, there. “Our grand suite is open, if that would suit?”
Crowley handed over his credit card instead of miracling the charge away.
“Very smart, my dear,” Aziraphale murmured. No point in making it easier, indeed.
Crowley turned his head to look at him, and he was so close that there were mere inches between their faces. “Angel,” he said, low and sweet as if he’d forgotten the wiles were for the clerk.
Speaking of which, she produced a sheet of paper for Crowley to sign. “Shall I have a bottle of champagne sent up, sir?”
“Two,” Aziraphale surprised himself by saying, and Crowley squeezed his hip once before ushering him off to their suite.
“We haven’t done this in awhile,” Crowley said, handing the champagne bottle behind him to Aziraphale, who was soaking in the very large freestanding bathtub. Crowley was slouched against the side, the back of his head resting against the edge.
“Was it Rome?” Aziraphale guessed.
Crowley’s brow furrowed in thought. “Budapest, I think.”
Aziraphale took a long pull from the bottle before handing it back. “No, no, weren’t we in―”
“Hakone,” Crowley said. “You weren’t going to get out of that hot spring for all the best sushi in the world―”
“And you were a snake!” Aziraphale said, pleased to have finally remembered. It had been a lovely outdoor hot spring, and a lovely bottle of sake, and Crowley had been a lovely, heavy, sinuous weight against his shoulders.
“The rocks were very warm,” Crowley said, just a touch defensively.
“You could be a snake again, if you’d like,” Aziraphale said. “I’ve never minded.”
“I can’t drink when I’m a snake.”
“Well, there’s that,” Aziraphale allowed, and then he folded his arms on the edge of the tub next to where Crowley was resting his head. “What are we going to do?” he sighed, because there was no sense in avoiding it any longer. “They’ll find us, sooner or later.”
Crowley turned his head toward him and took off his sunglasses. “We could do this,” he suggested. “We could just―stay like this.”
“Live like humans, you mean?” Aziraphale said. “My dear―” he swallowed, the enormity of what they’d done really hitting him, and he knew his side, they’d never forgive this. “My darling, I’m afraid we’d slip up, eventually.”
“So that’s a no on living in sin, then,” Crowley said.
Aziraphale sputtered. “I hardly think it would be―that is to say―”
“You want to make an honest demon out of me, then?”
“I want you just as you are,” Aziraphale said.
Crowley’s eyes went wide.
“And besides, who paid six goats and a fatted calf for me, way back when,” Aziraphale continued mercilessly.
“Are you still upset about that?” Crowley said incredulously.
“It was insulting,” Aziraphale huffed. “I can’t believe you bargained him down so low. Six goats, honestly.”
“And a fatted calf! Look, I wasn’t going to leave you behind in the path of an invading army.”
“Even then?” Aziraphale asked in surprise.
Crowley’s gaze was steady, and unexpectedly soft. “Even then, angel. Before then.”
Everything ever written had tried to capture this moment, this feeling in words, and Aziraphale was a being built to love, but even he was at a loss to describe it. It felt immense, overwhelming, intense and tender and everything in between, and it was rescued books and crepes and holy water in a thermos, and and and.
“What will we do?” Aziraphale asked, because it was too cruel, to save the world and come to this moment, and know they could still lose everything. “They’ll call us traitors. They’ll make an example of us.”
“They’ll do no such thing,” Crowley said sharply, sitting up straight and turning to face Aziraphale with an expression that bordered on righteous.
“How do you know?” Aziraphale asked tremulously.
“I lost you once, angel―I refuse to do it again, do you hear me?” Crowley demanded. He looked a bit wild around the eyes, and Aziraphale could feel the echo of that remembered fear and despair.
Maybe humans had the right of it―words only took you so far. In the end, Aziraphale could only answer by leaning forward and kissing Crowley, a soft, lingering press of lips against lips.
He’d never done it before; when he pulled back and opened his eyes, Crowley looked dumbstruck.
“Did I do it right?” Aziraphale asked, feeling a flutter of nerves.
“Aziraphale,” Crowley said dangerously, “get out of that tub.”
Aziraphale swallowed once, made an Effort, and then did exactly as he was bidden.
He thought he was done being surprised by his human body tonight, but he was very evidently wrong.
It turned out that when you made an Effort, and you loved someone so impossibly much, well.
“It didn’t feel like this when I tried it myself,” Aziraphale gasped out as Crowley planted a meandering path of kisses down his neck. Some of them were a bit sharp, as though Crowley were using his teeth, and oh that was strangely more pleasant than expected.
“You’re killing me,” Crowley muttered, the hypocrite, because his hips were between Aziraphale’s thighs and he was undulating against Aziraphale, and it felt so good, better than the best wine he’d ever drank, better than that pastry from 1852 that he could still remember every bite of, but it wasn’t enough, somehow.
“Closer,” Aziraphale begged, and Crowley groaned into his neck and held Aziraphale’s wrists to the bed and writhed against him.
“Closer,” Aziraphale said again, and Crowley laced their fingers together and kissed him, slipping his tongue inside Aziraphale’s mouth, and oh, that was very nice too, but he wanted―
“Closer,” he pleaded.
“Any closer and I’ll be in you,” Crowley hissed.
“Yes, yes, let’s do that,” Aziraphale said, and Crowley made a wounded noise.
“Just―hang on, one blessed second, we need―”
“I thought you said no miracles,” Crowley said hoarsely.
“Is now really the time?” Aziraphale asked. “It’s not as though I turned water into wine.”
Crowley pressed in, and Aziraphale felt it―the sweet drag of pleasure, the indescribable essence that was Crowley touching his own, and it was difficult to tell where his body ended and Crowley’s began, because what were bodies anyway, besides vessels that barely contained them, that elided what they were, and Aziraphale felt his hundred-eyed wings unfold and Crowley’s soot black wings stretched out as well, not in this reality exactly and yet―
“More,” he demanded.
Crowley snapped his hips harder. “Greedy,” he said, “perfect―angel, I―”
Aziraphale moaned and said, “Don’t stop, right there, I can’t―”
“God,” Crowley said, and in that moment, when they both shook with pleasure, Aziraphale knew it wasn’t blasphemy at all.
“Choose your faces wisely,” Crowley repeated. He was still plastered against Aziraphale’s side, his fingers tracing idle patterns on Aziraphale’s skin.
“She was never wrong,” Aziraphale reminded him. “We can’t hide forever, but we might―deceive them. If Hell is expecting you, and instead they get me, and vice versa―”
Crowley made something of a scandalized noise.
“It’s just―” Crowley coughed. “You know. Intimate.”
“I really don’t see what the problem is,” Aziraphale said, a trifle crossly. “You just spilled your essence inside me, and I love you―”
“Please don’t call it that,” Crowley moaned. “Hang on, you―”
“Love you, yes,” Aziraphale said. “Obviously.”
“Obviously,” Crowley repeated hoarsely.
“So let’s get some sleep, and we’ll switch bodies in the morning,” Aziraphale said. He was exhausted in more ways than one, and it was a terribly comfortable bed, made more comfortable with the warm weight of Crowley pressed all against him.
“Angel,” Crowley said some time later, as he was about to slide off to sleep, “You know, right? You know that I―that is, I really―”
“Yes, my darling, I know,” Aziraphale said, and he did. He knew it down to the very core of himself, the place the Almighty had whispered him into being.
“I would have gone up to ten goats, easy, is what I’m saying.”
Aziraphale rolled his eyes. “Go to sleep. Tomorrow’s a new day.”
“It is, isn’t it,” Crowley said with no small amount of wonder, and held him close all the way until morning.