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I With Thee Have Fixed My Lot

Chapter Text

Hell is crowded.

It’s a lot of other things too— dark, and damp, and loud, and dirty— but the first thing Aziraphale notices is that it’s crowded. Demons press in from all sides. Some scale the walls or cling to the ceiling like spiders. Others are scurrying underfoot like rats. Or those actually may just be rats. It’s so difficult to tell with demons.

Aziraphale is wearing Crowley’s face and speaking with Crowley’s voice so he must react the way Crowley would to all of this squalor and overcrowding. This is normal to Crowley, he reminds himself as the demons pull him through the slime-coated hallways. This is Crowley’s home.

Except even as he thinks those words, he knows it isn’t true. He’s been to Crowley’s home, and it’s a flat in London with gleaming stone floors and elegant pieces of art and the most beautiful plants Aziraphale has ever seen outside of Eden. Crowley’s home has vaulted ceilings and tall windows and in the bedroom the most ridiculous, lavish bed. Even Marie Antoinette herself didn’t sleep in such opulence. It’s a four-poster affair made of cherry mahogany, piled with soft furs and intricate brocade and pillows upon pillows.

Aziraphale had come by once during one of Crowley’s long sleeps, to check on the demon in a purely administrative sense, of course. Make sure that he wasn’t getting up to any of his wily ways that needed thwarting. That’s the only reason Aziraphale had gone by, that time. To ensure for Heaven’s sake he himself wasn’t slacking on any of the thwarting.

Crowley lay boneless on gray silk sheets, one pale arm flung in dramatic fashion across the width of the king-sized mattress. The furs and wool blankets were tangled around his long legs. He wasn’t wearing any clothing that Aziraphale could see.

Not that Aziraphale was looking. He just happened to notice because it made him worry Crowley might be cold, and after nearly six-thousand years of friendship he knew Crowley hated to be cold. It was the serpent in him, Aziraphale figured. Cold-blooded.

He’d said that once to Crowley, in the early 1700s near the fjords of Norway, as Crowley shivered violently and inched himself closer and closer to the fire they’d lit in the small cabin. It was simply economical to share that cabin for a few nights, as they were both there on jobs for their respective head offices, and surely those offices couldn’t object to them being economical.

“I suppose you’re a bit cold-blooded,” Aziraphale had said, prodding the fire with a poker to encourage the flames.

Crowley had looked at him for a moment, a hard expression in his golden eyes, then he’d turned back to the fire. “I suppose I am,” he muttered. “Demon, and all. Don’t care about anything, us.”

“Oh no, that is not what I meant at all!” Aziraphale was flustered. He hated being rude, and he felt as though he just was. “I mean, yes, you are a demon, but I simply meant— you were once a serpent. It was just a passing thought, quite out of hand, I—“

Crowley was watching him again. The look on his face was softer. Too soft, in the firelight. A temptation of softness.

“Can I fetch you a blanket?” Aziraphale had asked then, and all but fled from the room. He couldn’t find a blanket in the kitchen of the cabin to which he fled, so he miracled one instead and hoped no one would notice. It was the softest of lamb’s wool in the purest white.

When Aziraphale was in Crowley’s flat several thousand years later, there was a blanket on the bed that looked awfully similar. Aziraphale pulled it from around Crowley’s ankles and laid it over his shoulders and torso, covering that exposed arm. A warm and comfortable Crowley would sleep longer, Aziraphale rationalized. And a sleeping Crowley couldn’t be wily or cause any temptations. Therefore, a warm and comfortable Crowley really was in Heaven’s best interest.

Aziraphale can’t remember why he’s thinking about that lamb’s wool blanket and the way Crowley looks when he’s asleep now, except he can’t imagine either of those things occurring down here, in Hell. The floor is uneven, covered in puddles of stagnant water. There is nowhere to lie down, the entire place filled with demons shuffling back and forth in infinite drudgery.

And my, are demons ugly. Not just their outsides, though there is certainly a lot of ugliness there, scabs and sores and dead flesh. But their insides too. Aziraphale can feel it as they put on a mockery of a trial, listing out Crowley’s supposed crimes. All of their insides are rotted and festering.

It smells. That’s the other thing Aziraphale can’t believe about Hell. How truly awful it smells. The place itself, but also all of the demons within it. Thousands of damaged, unwashed souls that reek of sewage and brimstone and cowardice.

It’s amazing, really, that Crowley never smelled like any of those things. From the moment they met in the garden, Crowley smelled of… Well, he smelled just like…

The arrival of the archangel Michael startles Aziraphale from his thoughts. The hypocrisy shouldn’t stun him, but it does. Here they are about to destroy Crowley for consorting with an angel when they’re perfectly willing to do the same to meet their own selfish needs.

They are demons, after all, Aziraphale reminds himself. Selfishness and betrayal are in their very nature. And yet Michael is supposed to be good. All of the angels were supposed to be good, but they haven’t been acting that way for longer than Aziraphale cares to remember.

They plan to kill Crowley with holy water. It’s crass. It’s inelegant. It’s exactly the kind of thing Aziraphale was counting on them to do, but he’s still a little disappointed. Don’t they know who they’re dealing with? Crowley, the demon who has deceived the Lords of Hell for six thousand years. Crowley, who accomplished humanity’s first temptation. Crowley who drove through actual flames and defied Satan himself to talk the very Antichrist down from Earth’s total destruction.

It’s all Aziraphale can do not to laugh in their scarred and shameful faces. This the best Hell has to offer? This is what they think will defeat their greatest traitor, their greatest hero? Crowley may be a demon, but he isn’t like any of these creatures. He doesn’t belong here. He belongs in the sunshine of St. James’ park, watching the ducks with that secret smile on his face he puts away as soon as he catches Aziraphale watching him. He belongs in the warmth of Aziraphale’s bookshop, lounging on his sofa with a glass of single-malt scotch in his hand. He belongs behind the wheel of his Bentley, driving much too fast and too recklessly, singing along to music that has too many vocals and electric instruments.

When everything is said and done and Aziraphale is walking out of Hell, flicking holy water from his fingertips at the grimy walls, he makes a promise to himself. Crowley will never come back here. As long as Aziraphale has anything to say about it, Crowley will never again have to set foot in this place of darkness and shattered souls.

When he emerges back on Earth, he takes a deep breath. The smell of Hell still lingers in his nostrils. Perhaps some limburger on rye bread and a strong black coffee will help. There’s a lovely little cafe in the south end that serves both. But first, Aziraphale will meet up with Crowley.

Crowley, who has never once smelled like Hell. Crowley has always smelled like the garden in which they first met. Like crisp green leaves and rich earth and tart, sweet apples. Crowley has always smelled like Paradise.

Chapter Text

Heaven is empty.

It’s a lot of other things too— cold and harsh and bright and sterile— but the first thing Crowley notices is its empty. The angels who kidnapped him as he wears Aziraphale’s face and Aziraphale’s clothes drag him through hallway after hallway and Crowley doesn’t spot a single other soul.

He tries not to remember much about the old days— the very old ones, before he fell. But he does remember some of it. He remembers time spent crafting celestial bodies, feeling the universe grow and shift beneath his hands, and he remembers he wasn’t alone. Hosts of angels worked together then to imagine, to create.

It was how Crowley met Lucifer. Lucifer was an architect, a visionary. It started with stardust, passing it back and forth, shaping it with ideas and thoughts. It ended with questions, with asking why, and more damningly, why not.

Well, no, that isn’t exactly correct. It actually ended just after those questions, with a fall.

But Crowley tries very hard not to remember that part either.

He does know Heaven wasn’t empty then. It wasn’t this large, and the angels weren’t this sparse, tucked away in empty rooms with glass walls and bowed heads and silent, empty prayers.

There’s not even a single plant or an end table or anything. They have to fetch a chair in order to tie Aziraphale down. It’s an office chair. Its wheels squeak and its fabric is pilling. And it’s beige.

Crowley has never been so offended in his life.

This is what Heaven uses for their ultimate judgement? This is their great retribution?

Apparently it isn’t enough for these angels to just sit Aziraphale in the disgusting chair. They tie him to it too. Using rope. Aziraphale is wearing a tartan bowtie and hand-spun linen trousers and a goddamn velvet waistcoat, and these angels think it fitting to tie him to an old office chair. With rope. 

Crowley longs to snap his fingers and set this rope on fire. He longs to get his hands on some of these angel’s necks. But he’s here as Aziraphale. The plan only works if he’s Aziraphale. And Aziraphale isn’t going to spit into these angel’s smug faces and tell them just where they can stick their phony veneration. 

These angels drip with false grace the same way they drip with false adornments. Heaven might be icily sparse but its angels are not. They have gold leaf on their cheeks and gems in their teeth and the flecks of dying nebulas painted on their lips. A pantomime of piety. 

Crowley is meant to be acting like Aziraphale, but it’s virtually impossible when he can’t imagine Aziraphale acting like himself here at all. Aziraphale is fond of nice things, sure, but he’s fond of the way they feel, not the way they look. After all, if the angel cared about looks he might have considered ditching the bowtie several decades back.

There’s nothing of Aziraphale in Heaven. No old books crammed onto sagging bookshelves, no classical music tinkling in the air, no hot cocoa with too much whipped cream, no perfectly broken-in sofa and no fine wine and no rich, indulgent food.

There’s no warmth, and if there’s one thing Crowley has always known about Aziraphale, it’s that he’s warm. He was warm the very first time they met when lightning split the sky and the first rain fell. The sudden absence of the sun reminded Crowley of another rather recent time he was plunged from a warm light into a sudden and horrifying darkness, and it made him feel cold down into whatever was left of his soul.

But Aziraphale was there with an extended wing and Crowley moved towards him without a thought. Even without his flaming sword Aziraphale was radiant. 

Aziraphale was warm the first time he touched Crowley. It was just a brush of his hand across Crowley’s arm in the spring of 1889. They were in Paris. Aziraphale so loved Paris. 

The sun was warm that day, so Crowley had shrugged off his coat and rolled up his shirt sleeves when Aziraphale reached out for him. The sun was warm, but Aziraphale’s touch was even warmer. 

“Oh!” Aziraphale gasped, drawing his hand back as though Crowley was the one to burn him. “Oh, my dear, I am so sorry! I didn’t think— did I hurt you?” 

“Hurt me?” Crowley asked, confused. His arm tingled where Aziraphale had touched it in that funny way only human bodies could tingle, but it didn’t hurt. “I think you’re greatly overestimating your own strength, angel.” 

“No, no, I just thought…” Aziraphale was waving his arms in the air now as though trying to erase the evidence of what he had done. His lacy sleeves flapped along with them, making his hands look like plump and fluttering doves. “I mean, I didn’t know if… An angel and a demon, you see. I thought perhaps there might be… consequences.” 

“Consequences.” Crowley peered over his glasses and down at his arm. He certainly didn’t see any consequences.

Aziraphale huffed. His human skin was blushing, a pink flush spreading from his neck to his cheeks. It made Crowley grin every time. An angel. Blushing.

Crowley’s grin only made Aziraphale huff louder. “Well I am holy, you know,” he said. “Blesséd. And you are… that is to say, you are…” 

“Damned.” The grin slid from Crowley’s face. He pushed his glasses back up. “Yes, you’re lucky to have survived such a near miss with a creature as foul as me.”

“You are not foul.” Aziraphale’s tone was sharp, sharp enough to stop Crowley from turning away. Aziraphale blushed again, even more deeply, but his mouth was scrunched into a determined little frown that Crowley knew meant there was no arguing with him.

“Look,” Aziraphale said with a sigh. “It is a lovely day. And this structure they’ve built is so lovely too. I wasn’t sure when they began it, but it truly is a wonder. For a moment why don’t we… rather, I thought we might…”

He trailed off, his eyes wide as though he couldn’t believe the words coming out of his own mouth. He looked ready to bolt, and Crowley suddenly wouldn’t stand for that. As Aziraphale said, it really was a lovely day. 

He held out his arm. Aziraphale looked even more shocked, glancing down at the offered arm, then back at Crowley’s face. Crowley stood perfectly still, staring straight ahead. He couldn’t bring himself to look at Aziraphale. He couldn’t bring himself to put his arm down.

What if he was the one to burn the angel? He was a demon after all, a creature of perdition. What if his skin caused Aziraphale’s soft and unblemished hand to blacken and die? What if his touch was venom and he struck down his one and only friend? 

Crowley nearly jumped clean out of his body as Aziraphale’s hand slid firmly into the crook of his elbow and broad fingers rested on Crowley’s forearm. Aziraphale’s skin was warm, but it wasn’t withering or bursting into flames. Crowley let out the breath he didn’t realize he’d been holding.

Consequences be damned, he thought.

“Come,” Aziraphale said, tugging on Crowley’s arm and pulling him forward. “Come, let’s get a closer look. The Eiffel Tower, they’re calling it. Isn’t it marvelous?”

“Marvelous,” Crowley agreed, even though he wasn’t looking at the Eiffel Tower at all.

It’s a demon appearing with a basket of Hellfire that snaps Crowley out of his thoughts and back into the indifferent barrenness of Heaven. He knows he should probably be surprised by this turn of events, but he isn’t. Sure, the highest orders of angels can consort with the lowest forms of demons, but Heaven forbid Aziraphale have a qualm about the desolation of the entire world.

Crowley is fresh out of qualms. He’s given up trying to understand Heaven. He was cast out simply for hanging around the wrong crowd. These angels are conspiring with Hell to burn one of their own alive, and yet here they stand, full of holy righteousness.

All at once, Crowley is exhausted. He’s ready for this to be over. He wants to be back on Earth where it's warm and full and messy. He wants to be where there are squabbling ducks and shouting children and buzzing insects and one cheerful, hedonistic angel.

An angel who probably wouldn’t breathe Hellfire at his former coworkers, but the looks of fear on their faces is worth it. They won’t dare come after Aziraphale now. He’s the worm in the apple, the snake in the grass. Too reckless, too shrewd, too unpredictable.

Too good for the lot of them.

Crowley walks out of Heaven alone. The stairs are white and wide and empty. This isn’t the divinity he once knew and tries to forget. That memory is faded and thin like a gossamer curtain stretched over the night sky. These frigid, dispassionate hallways of glass and gilded imposters won’t replace it.

Divinity is his Bentley cutting the curves of an English road. It’s the smell of London in the earliest hours of a Sunday morning. It’s an antique bookshop with an even more antique sofa and a glass of red wine and a smile that has shone brighter than the stars since nearly the beginning of time. 

Crowley goes straight to St. James park. He hears the ducks squabbling. A pair of school children run past him, shouting. A fat, humming bumblebee lurches past his knee. 

Crowley goes to find Aziraphale.

Chapter Text

Crowley and Aziraphale’s lunch at the Ritz lasts so long it turns into happy hour at the Ritz, which turns into dinner at the Ritz. They have two different waiters, six different wines, and every single dessert on the menu. 

It feels like a weight has been lifted from Crowley’s shoulders. And who knows? Maybe it has. For the past six thousand years Hell has been clinging to him like shackles, dragging him back down whenever he strayed too far.

Now, for the time being, Hell has let him go. Crowley is free. He feels almost like he could fly.

He takes a sip of his cirsion (2005 Bodegas Roda, Aziraphale was skeptical about it, but the flavor is exquisite) and watches the angel savor the last several bites of the crêpes suzette.

Aziraphale catches him looking, and smiles. Crowley can see why Gabriel called him sunshine. There is nothing quite so blinding and so warm as that smile. Aziraphale glances down at his empty plate, and the smile vanishes.

“Oh,” he says sadly. “Oh, my dear Crowley, how rude of me. You ordered the crêpes and I’ve eaten them all. Did you even get a bite? Let me order you another—”

“No need.” Crowley catches Aziraphale’s hand before he can start waving for the waitstaff. “I ordered them for you.”

There’s a weight to the words Crowley wasn’t prepared for. He’s ordered food for Aziraphale hundreds of times before. Aziraphale loves food. If Crowley passes a bakery with particularly elegant macarons, or he’s early to the restaurant and the special for the night is a luxuriously silky pasta carbonara, or they are in line at the local market and it’s taking forever because Aziraphale insists on letting nearly every single person go ahead of them, then Crowley will order for Aziraphale.

But this feels different. His hand on Aziraphale’s feels different. The world feels different.

“Oh,” Aziraphale says again, and his sunshine smile returns. “Thank you.”

The waiter comes and Crowley asks for the check. He finishes his wine. Aziraphale scrapes the last of the beurre suzette from his plate in fashion that is far from angelic. The entire time, Crowley’s hand remains on top of Aziraphale’s. Neither of them mention it.

Outside of the Ritz, they pause. This is normally when the excuses come in. Excuses to leave— better report back to Head Office, then— or excuses to stay— We should discuss our plan for next week further, can’t have the bosses noticing anything is amiss. There are no excuses left tonight. There’s just the two of them, and the whole wide world.

“Do you want to check on the Bentley?” Aziraphale asks into the quiet evening air.

Crowley shrugs. “I trust you,” he says.

Aziraphale blushes like he said something filthy. And perhaps Crowley has. He doesn’t know the rules anymore. This is uncharted waters, beyond the edges of the map. Here, there be monsters.

Crowley sniffs the air. “Could use a nightcap,” he says.

Aziraphale lights up. “There’s a fine Macallan sherry oak at the bookshop. At least, there was. Before. We could see if it’s still there?”

Crowley nods, and sticks his hand out for a cab. One is there immediately, the driver looking a bit bemused at her own sudden speedy driving.

Crowley opens the back door of the cab for Aziraphale and gestures him in. Aziraphale blushes again and Crowley almost tells him to knock it off, because it’s not that big of deal, and if the angel is going to go about blushing at every damn thing he does, then Crowley is going to have to… Well he’ll just have to—

“Thank you, my dear,” Aziraphale says as he wiggles happily into the backseat of the cab. “That’s very kind of y—”

“Don’t,” Crowley says reflexively, and shuts the door before Aziraphale can finish his sentence. But he does it gently, careful not to catch the end of Aziraphale’s coat. Aziraphale loves that coat, after all. If Crowley were to shut it in a car door he’d never hear the end of it.

They’re both quiet on the ride to the bookshop. Part of Crowley wishes to put his hand over Aziraphale’s again, just to confirm he’s really there. He hasn’t forgotten what it felt like when Aziraphale was disincorporated, when in the corner of his awareness instead of the gentle, steady warmth that had been there for the past six thousand years there was just… nothing. A cold emptiness, like the sky before the creation of the stars.

Crowley thought they had killed him. Heaven or Hell, he wasn’t sure which one. Aziraphale told him during their lunch and dinner what had really happened, how it had largely been an accident, but it didn’t really matter because Heaven had tried to kill him after all, had asked Aziraphale to step into hellfire and with gleeful eyes prepared to watch him burn. 

And there was the other thought, the one Crowley really didn’t want to have, the one he tried to drink away with bottle after bottle in the bar. He was all too familiar with a fate worse than death, and for a moment, for just a fraction of heartbeat, he thought perhaps Aziraphale had…

He glances down and realizes he is holding Aziraphale’s hand. Aziraphale’s fingers are laced with his own. As Crowley stares, Aziraphale gives them a gentle squeeze.

Don’t, Crowley wants to say again, but this time his mouth won’t form the words. He’s brought back to Paris, back to the first time their skin met, and how he was so afraid it might burn the angel. Corruption. Destruction. That’s what demons do. They don’t create, and yet here, in the back of this cab, holding Aziraphale’s hand, Crowley feels like he’s a part of something brand new.

Aziraphale lets go of his hand when they reach the bookshop so he can pay and generously tip the driver. Crowley gets out of the car, and he’s unsteady on his feet. It’s the wine, he tries to tell himself, but he’s know it isn’t true. This newfound freedom no longer feels like flying. He’s not a feather on the wind, he’s a ship in a storm, he’s a horse with no rider, he’s—

He is rather drunk, after all.

He follows Aziraphale into the bookshop. The angel putters about happily, touching a few books fondly on his way to fetch the scotch and some glasses. Crowley perches on the arm of the couch and squints, letting his vision slide sideways into the spaces between the earthly realms. There he can see Aziraphale’s wings, and they are white. They’re still white.

Aziraphale hands Crowley a glass of scotch, and as Crowley takes it their fingers brush again. Crowley jumps to his feet. Then he sits back down. Then stands again.

Aziraphale is sitting in his armchair, watching him with confusion.

“Crowley,” Aziraphale says with a kindness no demon has ever deserved, “What is the matter?”

“I’m—” Worried, he wants to say. “You’re—” being too reckless. “What if—” I ruin this.

“Crowley.” Aziraphale sets his scotch down and stands. He puts his hands on Crowley’s arms, and that’s it, that’s the signal, that’s the dam breaking, the bomb exploding. He shouldn’t have had so much wine at the Ritz. He can never keep his mouth shut when he’s drunk.

“I thought they killed you,” Crowley murmurs. There’s only a single light on in the bookshop, and it’s growing dark outside. Crowley’s words hang in the golden air. It’s a half-truth, a false confession.

“I’m so sorry,” Aziraphale says, just as he had when Crowley drunkenly wept in the bar. He keeps his hands on Crowley’s arms. Crowley wants to leave. He wants to stay. He wishes he was sober. He wishes he could black out.

“I thought you fell.” He’s never said the words before, barely let himself think them, and he’s still not sure he spoke them out loud even now, but Aziraphale hears them anyway.

“Oh my dear boy,” Aziraphale says. His hands lift from Crowley’s arms, and for a moment Crowley considers sinking through the floor and all the way back to Hell, but then the hands are back and this time they are on his face.

This is new. The world is new. Crowley isn’t drunk enough for this.

“I’ve made my own choices,” Aziraphale tells him. His thumbs are heavy and thick, rubbing gently across Crowley’s cheeks. “And they haven’t always been the right ones.”

Crowley puts his hands over Aziraphale’s, intending to rip them away. He can’t stand to hear regret right now. He can’t handle Aziraphale’s doubt, he has too much of his own. 

But his hands don’t cooperate the moment they touch the angel’s warm skin, and he simply ends up standing there, holding Aziraphale’s hands as they cradle his face.

“I should have agreed with you sooner,” Aziraphale says. “About being on our own side. I was scared. I was weak.” Crowley tries to shake his head, but Aziraphale’s hands stop him. “Yes, I was. You were brave. You’ve always been so brave, Crowley.”

“You’re an angel. I’m a demon.” Those are Aziraphale’s words, and Crowley parrots them back to him with all the venom he can muster, which in the quiet warmth of the bookshop is very little. But it’s his last defense, his final stand before he tumbles over this cliff’s edge and pulls Aziraphale down with him.

“I know,” Aziraphale says, and it’s so soft Crowley could cry, except he thinks maybe he already is. “And God knows it too. She could smite us at any time, and yet I can’t help but notice… she has not done so.”

“I’m already smitten,” Crowley whispers, and that’s come out wrong, that’s not what he means, except when the smile breaks across Aziraphale’s face and it’s like his ship is come into port, maybe it is.

“My darling,” Aziraphale sighs, and his hands are on Crowley’s face, and his breath is on Crowley’s lips, and he’s warm and safe and divine. “So am I."

Chapter Text

Earthly pleasures and creations are not and cannot be holy. That’s what the other angels have reminded Aziraphale of time and time again. Michael said it first when Aziraphale was making a report in 600 B.C. and referred to date honey as “heavenly.”

“Human food cannot be Heavenly,” Michael had snapped. “Do you see any date honey here, in Heaven?” The angels had laughed, and Aziraphale had chuckled nervously along with them.

But God created humans, Aziraphale thought then, not for the first time and certainly not for the last. And God created dates. And are not all God’s creations holy?

From then on, he tried to keep his thoughts on the holiness of various tastes and experiences found on Earth to himself. Cassoulet eaten during a cold, rainy winter day. A cup of rich cocoa sipped with an ancient book by a fire. Strong wine and savory flamiche enjoyed by the water while a summer breeze carries the scent of honeysuckle and roses. Aziraphale has felt God’s grace in all of these things, and now he has a new one to add.

The taste of Crowley’s lips. One might have expected it to be sinful, but it is positively divine. Crowley tastes like whiskey and water, like a long drink at the edge of an endless desert.

Aziraphale didn’t mean to kiss him. He was simply trying to comfort the demon, who was working himself into a fit over the mistakes Aziraphale had made the past several days. It felt natural to touch his arms, and then his face, and then his lips.

Crowley doesn’t kiss him back, at first. He stands there with his lips slightly parted and his hands on Aziraphale’s hands and he doesn’t kiss back. But he doesn’t move away. Aziraphale closes his lips over Crowley’s once, twice, before pulling back. He doesn’t go far.

Crowley stares. His pupils are blown so wide his eyes almost look black.

“Is this alright?” Aziraphale asks. The question is just for Crowley and no one else. Aziraphale won’t ask for permission from the universe, or from God. He didn’t ask permission when he gave away his flaming sword, he didn’t ask for permission the first time he made a deal with Crowley, he didn’t ask for permission to stop the apocalypse, and he won’t ask for permission for this. The words we’re on our side echo in his head.

Crowley doesn’t answer Aziraphale’s question. He drops his hands to Aziraphale’s arms, twisting fingers in his coat sleeves like it’s the only thing keep him upright. Aziraphale puts his hands on Crowley’s slim waist, to steady him, to anchor him, to pull him closer.

You’re here, he wants Crowley to feel in his touch. You’re right here. Not in Hell. Not in Heaven. Just here.

“I—“ Crowley is trying to find his words, and they aren’t the word ‘yes.’ A cold, deep fear settles in Aziraphale’s stomach. Every instinct in his human body and his angel’s soul told him to kiss Crowley in that moment, but perhaps he was wrong. God knows he’s been wrong so many times before.

Perhaps Crowley doesn’t want this. Perhaps the sight of Heaven didn’t pierce Crowley’s being the same way the sight of Hell pierced Aziraphale’s. Perhaps his body and his heart are not aching with desire.

Aziraphale has pushed him away so many times before. Told him they weren’t friends. That he wouldn’t help him. He wouldn’t run away with him. He wouldn’t stay by his side.

Aziraphale was told time and again love and devotion were holy things. They were only available in holy spaces. They could be measured in piety and restraint and bloodless miracles.

But he’s felt love and devotion here on Earth. In humans, in nature, in the books in his shop, and in this trembling, tangled creature in front of him. Aziraphale can recognize it now. It took the end of the world and the depths of Hell for him to put a name to what he has felt for nearly six thousand years.

Crowley’s body shifts beneath Aziraphale’s hands, and he braces himself to feel him pull away, tells himself it will be alright if he does.

But this is Crowley, who took the first steps towards Aziraphale at the beginning of the world, and who hasn’t stopped pushing closer ever since. He steps into Aziraphale, pushes those knife-sharp hips into Aziraphale’s thighs.

Crowley is shaking, leaning in, but he stops himself at the last minute. Crowley’s greatest weapon is his ability to doubt, and he so often turns it on himself.

“Consequences,” Crowley whispers. It’s not quite a warning, not quite a question.

It reminds Aziraphale of that sunny day in Paris when he first touched Crowley’s skin and worried he’d hurt him, and then Crowley had offered Aziraphale his arm. It tells him everything he needs to know.

“Consequences be damned,” Aziraphale says with a smile.

This time, Crowley kisses Aziraphale.

And he doesn’t just kiss him. He devours him. Crowley’s hands are suddenly everywhere, clenching in Aziraphale’s hair and skating down his back and tugging at his arms. Crowley is frantic, desperate, a drowning man clinging to a sinking raft.

For his part, Aziraphale isn’t much calmer. He’s never felt anything like this before. Holding the demon in his arms and tasting him beneath his mouth is like touching a live wire during a hurricane.

Aziraphale has dabbled in physical intimacy before, of course. It was something so exquisitely human he had to try it, in the same way he had to try gâteau St-Honoré, and complaining about traffic, and the gavotte. He knows Crowley has done the same, driven by an identical impulse to experience this human world and all its funny little quirks.

This is different. Aziraphale isn’t merely trying this the same way he might try a modern twist on the classic cacciucco, with curiosity and an academic's interest. Aziraphale is experiencing this with every fiber of his body and his heart and his soul. This feels more than ineffable. This feels inevitable, it feels indescribable, it feels…

It feels bloody fantastic, is what.

Crowley crowds his body so close to Aziraphale’s as his ravages his mouth that Aziraphale ends up stumbling backwards. His thighs hit the edge of his armchair and he sinks into it, pulling Crowley in a tangle of leather-clad limbs on top of him.

“Wait,” Crowley says, wrenching his mouth away. “Should we— I don’t want to damage your chair…”

“Sod the chair,” Aziraphale says, and for a moment he means it. He drags Crowley back down, kissing his mouth, his jaw, his neck. Crowley groans, bucking against him. One leg is braced on the floor and the other is crooked over the arm of the chair and it can’t be comfortable for him, but the angle it’s giving him to grind against Aziraphale is almost too good to be ignored.

Almost. There’s an alarming creak from beneath them that briefly restores a flicker of Aziraphale’s senses.

“Actually, my dear, this is an antique, from the fifteen century no less, perhaps we shouldn't—“

Crowley laughs, breathless, and slides off Aziraphale’s lap like silk. Aziraphale stands, adjust his waistcoat and fixes his bowtie. Crowley looks away, running a hand nervously through his hair. His lips are swollen and pink, his skin flushed. He’s never looked more beautiful.

“Uh,” Crowley says. “Maybe I'll just—”

“I want to make love to you,” Aziraphale states, matter-of-fact. Crowley’s eyes snap to his face, wide as saucers. “Please,” Aziraphale adds.

Crowley is back on him in an instant, wound around him like the snake he once was, mouth and hips desperate for Aziraphale. It’s intoxicating, and in another second Aziraphale knows it will become irresistible, but he has his own plan now— a plan he’s possibly had somewhere in the back of his mind for several hundred years— and he needs to set it in motion. He puts his hands on Crowley’s hips, pushes him back so there’s an inch of space between them.

“I want to make love to you,” Aziraphale repeats, partially because he loves the full-body shiver it sends through Crowley when it says it, and partially to remind himself of his plan. “But not here. In your bed.”

“Aziraphale.” Crowley’s voice is rough with lust, but the undercurrent of petulance is unmistakable. “I don’t give a damn where we are. The couch, the bloody floor—”

“I know.” Aziraphale catches Crowley’s wildly gesturing hand and presses a gentle kiss to his palm. Crowley grabs his shoulder with his other hand. Aziraphale will never, in all eternity, tire of this. “But this time, I want it to be your bed. Alright?”

He presses another kiss to Crowley’s hand. Crowley whimpers. He looks at Aziraphale with a petulant, almost pained expression, then sighs.

“Alright. Fine, angel.”

Aziraphale smiles, and tugs Crowley in for a proper kiss. Crowley immediately deepens it, kissing wanton and audacious in a clear attempt to distract Aziraphale, but Aziraphale pulls away before it can work.

“Come, my dear,” Aziraphale says, and takes Crowley’s hand, leading him back out into the night.