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Crowley had suggested it, drunk, emphasising his words with a jab of the glass in his hand in Aziraphale's direction. "You should learn a new dance. No more gavottes. Gavotte's been out of fashion for years. You need something more modern."

"Don't like those modern dances. Not really even dances," Aziraphale complained. There was more alcohol in his glass than he remembered, so he drank a bit more of it quickly. You couldn't let alcohol sneak up on you like that, after all. "And it's not as though I've got anyone to dance with."

Even drunk, he'd had the sudden sense, just then, of having walked into a previously unsuspected trap. Crowley's eyes were bright and intent and at some point he'd taken off his shades, and the look he was giving Aziraphale was entirely too focused for him to be as drunk as Aziraphale had, a moment before, been assuming. It was a look that, on Crowley at least, shouted danger -- except that Aziraphale no longer feared Crowley, and suspected that he had not feared Crowley in quite a significant length of time, if indeed he ever had. "There's me," Crowley'd said. Aziraphale's heart, unnecessary physical component of a celestially maintained human body though it was, gave an almighty lurch in his chest.

"You don't dance," he said, slowly.[1]

"Maybe it's time I give it a try," Crowley had replied, with a graceless shrug, and lifted his glass to Aziraphale. "Why not, eh?"


Nothing too modern, of course. Aziraphale hadn't looked for a dance partner in quite some time, but he was pleased to find that there were plenty of dance classes available. He signed them up to a ballroom dancing class, with a miracle so small he felt it was barely worth the name in order to allow them to skip the waiting list and join the current class.

Crowley arrived at the venue more or less on time. He was growing his hair out again, and though Aziraphale couldn't see what Crowley kept going to all the trouble for when he was just going to chop it all off again in a few years, he found that he felt a strange swelling of helpless affection at the sight of the clips Crowley had shoved into it in order to prevent the lengthening strands flopping into his face.[2] “Crowley, my dear,” he said, and abruptly found that no other words were necessary. Or possible.

“Yeah, yeah,” Crowley said, waving it away. “Where do we start?”

Aziraphale found that, much as he wanted to learn to dance like this, much as he was looking forward to the physical closeness of it and much as he wanted the end-result of all this, he couldn’t help but be distracted. Crowley was wearing lipstick, he realised, and something about the red curve of his lips caused something complicated in Aziraphale’s chest. A fizzing chemical reaction. Take one angel, cancel one Armageddon, add demon. Stand well back once the reaction begins.

“Pay attention, angel,” Crowley said, taking firm possession of one of his hands. Aziraphale let him arrange their bodies, thrilling at the warm dry press of Crowley’s skin against his, touching all of a sudden easy when it had seemed all but impossible before.[3]

Aziraphale tried to pay attention. It’s just he seemed to be paying attention to all the wrong things: to Crowley’s body close to his, the heat of his hand, the red curve of his smile, the brush of Crowley’s breath against his skin. The way he frowned a little, concentrating, as they tried to follow the instructor’s suggestions. It was… overwhelming, but in a lovely way, a way that felt like a third glass of wine, only more delightful. Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, Aziraphale thought, vaguely, and then, oh and oh dear and then oh, my dear.

Some things were beginning to become terribly clear to Aziraphale, finally.


“Come home with me,” Aziraphale found himself saying, as they left the class. Crowley glanced at him sidelong.

“Alright,” he said, easily. “The Bentley’s round the corner.”

Aziraphale found himself watching Crowley all the way, still unable to take his eyes off him. He caught Crowley noticing it, and was surprised when Crowley didn’t say anything. He caught himself admiring the turn of Crowley’s wrist, the line of his throat, the curl of one obstinate lock of hair. He made a resolution to stop looking and broke it immediately, gladly; he wasn’t sure why he hadn’t looked properly before.

Somehow, it was all simple now. As soon as the bookshop door closed behind them, Aziraphale reached for him. Reached, as he should have done before, as Crowley had been reaching for him for how long? He took both of Crowley’s hands and found himself laughing.

Crowley looked terrified. Not the way he had in Tadfield, just waiting for the end; it was the terror that something was about to begin, something one might prove entirely unequal to. Aziraphale knew exactly what he was feeling, but somehow he knew exactly what to do, moving at last on instinct, bringing Crowley close to him. Close enough to dance. Close enough to –

“This is my beloved, and this is my friend,” Aziraphale said, bumping their foreheads together. Crowley’s body moved with a quick sharp breath, and Aziraphale felt it, so close to his own. “Crowley, it’s alright. I understand now.”

And then finally, finally, he kissed Crowley, kissed those lips like a thread of scarlet, his lovely mouth. It felt like the Earth moved, like a thousand flowers bursting into joyous bloom; like being pierced with lightning, like the force of a river bursting its banks. It felt like a kiss.

“I thought you didn’t…”

“Obviously I do.”

“You’ve never – ”

“I’ve never wanted anyone but you,” Aziraphale said, softly, “that’s all.”

Crowley stared at him for a moment and then took a deep breath. “This is all very nice, but are you going to keep quoting scripture at me if we go to bed?”

“Quite possibly,” Aziraphale admitted. “It all seems so appropriate. I finally understand some of what Solomon meant.”

It had never made sense before. Not until he realised that all through time, he’s been waiting for this. For this to be possible. He’d loved before; he was an angel, and though other angels seemed like evidence to the contrary, he was sure that angels had been made to love. But he hadn’t loved like this before, covetous and greedy, with a thread of physical desire running through it born from the need to be close, to be as one flesh. He never understood before.

“Would you like,” Crowley asked, “to understand the rest?”


They fumbled. Aziraphale’s teeth caught Crowley’s lip, too hard – Crowley’s elbow found its way, somehow, into Aziraphale’s midriff – here, Aziraphale went too fast, and Crowley made a breathless noise of pain before he gentled it, smoothed the discomfort away with another kiss and another –

It was transcendent, all the same. Aziraphale sat back to look at Crowley bare beneath him, the long lines of his body, the angles of him, and it took his breath away. “Are you ready?” he asked, feeling his own heart pounding in his throat, his pulse pounding in his wrists, every cell of him awake and alive and overflowing. It wasn’t perfection, still, but it was dearer than perfection, more wonderful; Crowley’s arms around him and Crowley’s mouth on his skin in silent answer, his lipstick smeared now and a world of wonder in his eyes, his beautiful eyes.

“You are altogether beautiful, my love,” Aziraphale whispered, and Solomon’s words were his own, and there was nothing more holy than this.


“Well?”

Aziraphale shifted a little on the pillow, stroking his hand down Crowley’s bare chest. “Well what?”

“How was it?”

Aziraphale smiled. “Everything I hoped.”

“Less scripture, next time, maybe?”

“Maybe,” he said, because he had an idea now that he might have words of his own for how dear Crowley was, how beautiful. “I fear you might need to be patient with me.”

“I’ve got practice at that.” There was a comfortable silence, and then Crowley cleared his throat. “You know it’s only you for me, as well?”

“My dear, of course.”


 


 

[1] At least, Crowley did not do any dancing that Aziraphale considered worth gracing with the name. This fact was, between them, quite understood. Aziraphale had offered to teach Crowley the gavotte, but he hadn't been very surprised when Crowley refused.

[2] Crowley grew his hair out naturally, albeit at a somewhat accelerated pace. He’d always found that his hair cooperated better if mostly left to its own devices. Chivvied along by demonic intervention, it seemed to sulk, and bullying didn't work on his hair as it did on plants. A demon having a bad hair day is just too undignified to be borne, so Crowley capitulated. Mostly.

[3] Aziraphale wasn’t counting the times Crowley had handed him something (a mere brush of fingers, gone before it could be appreciated) or shoved him up against a wall. He hadn’t realised the latter was a blatant excuse for Crowley to touch him, and perhaps he never will. Crowley doesn’t mind. He’d be a little relieved to know he wasn’t entirely obvious, actually.