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On Matters of Love and Pleasure

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On Matters of Pleasure by justkeeptrekkin, art by Bees and Podfic by oury-boros

“Socrates, I will not have the same conversation with you again. Why must you be such a provocative sod?”

And thus begins the symposium. Technically, they’ve been at it for hours, drinking and gossiping about Socrates’ new neighbours, lamenting over Cleon ruining their country and bitching about Thucydides, the boring bastard. But once Protagoras starts losing his temper, that’s when it really begins.

Plato’s living room is warm, the summer heat passing on a breeze through the curtains of the courtyard. The lights are low, candles flickering and casting dancing shadows on the terracotta walls. Cicadas chirp and the air is dry. The room smells of wine. A boy stands in the doorway with a jugful, waiting for the call for more to be poured, as it inevitably will.

Socrates and Protagoras argue, Plato gazes openly at his teacher, and Crowley listens to it all with quiet amusement.

He is reclined on his cushion and swirling his goblet of wine. Beside him Aziraphale leans on his elbow, hand against his rosy cheek. Aziraphale has never enjoyed the relaxed way of sitting at the table of a symposium- that is to say, lying, rather than sitting. He’s never said as much, but Crowley can tell by the disgruntled furrow of his brow that he finds it too informal, rude, almost. ‘To slouch’ isn’t in his vocabulary.

“Protagoras, you’re so quick to fight,” Socrates smiles. “I was only asking why you feel that way.”

“Did it ever occur to you that you don’t have to question every, fucking, thing?”

“Yes. I thought very hard about it. Have you? Have you considered that questioning your actions could make you a better man-?”

“Oh, and you acting like an arse and picking apart everything anyone says makes you a better man, does it?”

“Ah, see, that’s more like it,” Socrates asserts. “You’re asking proper questions now rather than blowing proverbial raspberries at me like a child.”

Socrates and Protagoras bicker like this every Friday night. Or, rather, Socrates gently irritates Protagoras with an even expression, unfazed, whilst Protagoras becomes, on the other hand, very fazed indeed. Aristophanes- comedian and playwright of the moment, shiny celebrity and household name in the Golden Age of Athens- rolls his eyes and makes a theatrical snoring noise.

“Come on, boys, you’ve bored our guests to silence.”

“Oh, no, that’s not true at all.” Aziraphale moves to retrieve his cup of wine. Crowley knows the feeling, these symposiums are excellent fun, but only when enough wine has been had. “I just… didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes.”

“Better to leave them to it,” Aristophanes agrees, scratching his considerable beard.

“Come now, Aziraphale,” Not an easy name for a Greek to say, Crowley notes, as Protagoras stumbles over the final syllable. “We’re eager to hear your thoughts. Your considerate and optimistic demeanour has always brightened up our parties.”

To that, Aziraphale doesn’t seem to know what to say. He purses his lips against a smile, gaze flitting about the room bashfully instead of looking at the philosopher- who’s clearly flirting with him.

It drives Crowley bonkers.

Aziraphale preens. “Really, Protagoras. That’s very kind.”

“You underestimate our friend,” Socrates adds, waving a hand for more wine. The smell of grapes is strong, even from across the table. “Aziraphale plays a wise game. There is cutting wit and judgment behind the sweet exterior, I know it.”

“Oh, stop it,” Protagoras kicks Socrates. “There’s being a smart-arse and then there’s being plain rude. There’s a reason you don’t tear Aziraphale to shreds like the rest of us and it’s because he’s just that good. Too good for you to criticise.”

Really,” Aziraphale repeats, face growing redder.

“I don’t believe that for a second,” Aristophanes smirks, and points an accusatory finger at Aziraphale- who recoils a little, chin receding into his neck. “That man right there is a bastard through and through. A raging, stinking bastard. It doesn’t take a man like Socrates to see that.”

The angel doesn’t answer. He just smirks conspiratorially into his cup, and shares a glance with Crowley- who smiles back.

“If that’s so, why doesn’t our Socrates give him his usual spiel? Analyse him till he goes blue in the face-?”

“And this one!” Aristophanes points at Crowley, ploughing over Protagoras’ argument. “This one, our Pyrrha.” (A nickname that means ‘fiery’, which he’s earned because he’s a redhead. And because he can be more than a little ferocious, sometimes. And because, apparently, he’s effeminate enough to earn a female nickname. All of which suits him just fine.) Aristophanes continues, “This one is certainly worth your scruple, Socrates. Surely? I’ve never known a more defensive man.”

Crowley snarls. “Fuck off, Aristophanes.”

The comedian laughs at that. It doesn’t take much to amuse him.

Meanwhile, Socrates remains uncharacteristically quiet, looking between Crowley and Aziraphale with intense interest. Crowley glares back from behind his sunglasses. None of these men have seen his snake eyes, none of them know what he is. But something in the way Socrates watches him makes him wonder if he sees more than he lets on.

And as the night goes on, wine continues to pour. All the while, Aziraphale seems to edge closer to Crowley. It’s not something he notices at first, until he realises just how close their faces are to each other- the way they’re lying down at the table, head-to-head rather than toe-to-toe. It could almost look like they’re reaching to kiss each other.

It’s not something he wants to think too hard about.

But how can he not? How can he not think about the fact that Aziraphale is right there, lying on his stomach and kicking his legs in the air happily, chin resting in his cupped hands? How can he not look at him? How could anything distract him from the red wine stain on his lips- only visible this close? The candlelight dancing in his eyes, the quiet look of interest as he listens to Socrates’ rant? The curve of his neck and the gentle, round landscape of his face? Crowley may be drunk, but to him, Aziraphale seems just about as soft and sweet and tempting as a peach.

The room is warm, the place smells like wine and spices and the air crackles with cicadas. It is filled with the obnoxious banter of friends. But nothing could be more overwhelming than the swell of affection in his chest as he watches Aziraphale.

When he catches sight of Plato staring at Socrates with a love-stricken expression, Crowley clears his throat and corrects himself.

“On matters of pleasure, I can speak- I can speak very confidently.”

Protagoras makes this announcement, and the others laugh at him drunkenly stumbling over his words.

“Go on then!”

“Yeah, go on, let’s hear it.”

“On matters of pleasure,” Protagoras tries, “it’s all about living well. Living life enjoyably. So long as it’s not at anyone’s expense, I reckon you’re doing pretty well if you just have fun. Life your life happy, then die. You’re golden.”

“I mean,” Aristophanes wrinkles his nose. “That’s not exactly ground breaking, is it.”

“They’re calling it hedonism,” Protagoras announces. “Live life to the fullest, and you won’t just be a happy man, but a good one, too.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that,” Aziraphale argues. Crowley raises his brows at him. It’s not often that the angel will take part, more often than not listening and watching at the side lines. “I mean-” he hiccups, sits up a little straighter. “Some of the most corrupt humans- men- people alive have given into pleasure and ruined the lives of many.”

Socrates frowns at Aziraphale’s choice of words: humans. Crowley elbows him pointedly. You’re divinity is showing, angel, the gesture says, and Aziraphale flicks an irritated glare at him.

“Good and pleasant are not the same thing,” Aziraphale concludes.

“Quite so,” Socrates agrees. “And when ‘overcome with pleasure’, just like being overcome with pain, people can go mad and forget themselves. More than that, pleasure is insatiable- it’s an endless, fruitless task to foster pleasure and feed it. It is that, which drives tyrants into corruption and people to miserable deaths.”

Aristophanes exhales emphatically. “Alright. Bit much, mate.”

“Er, sorry, but what’s all this-” Crowley gestures to the room of drunk idiots, to the wine, “If not giving in to pleasure? This- this whole symposium bollocks is pretty hedonistic, if you ask me.”

“A point well made,” Socrates says evenly, eyeing Crowley and Aziraphale again.

And Crowley can’t think why, until he realises that they’re sat incredibly, incredibly close.

The almost-touch of their arms makes his skin raise with goosebumps, and Crowley stares for a long moment.

“Real happiness comes from virtue,” Socrates continues. Plato leans forward, absorbing every word. “It comes from living a life of virtue.”

“Please,” Protagoras mutters. “Please don’t get him talking about virtue-”

“Alright, but define virtue, though,” Crowley interrupts, and Protagoras groans theatrically. “I mean- how’s a dog meant to live a life of virtue? Some things aren’t destined to be virtuous, some things are just- thrown out of virtue. As it were. Cast away from virtue. It’s exclusive! It’s – it’s- it’s a dog. Like, a dog’s just wondering down the street all sort of- sniffing about and being a dog, but it’s not like it’s thinking ‘oh, you know what I’ll do today? I’ll be extra virtuous and help this old lady across the street’. Because it’s a fucking dog, and they don’t get to be virtuous, that’s not how it’s- oh. Or a lizard, right? Yeah? A lizard- listen, a lizard can’t be virtuous, it’s just living its life being a lizard, it’s not solving world hunger, is it? So’s that mean it’s bad? Or unhappy? Just cause it isn’t virtuous, by your standards?”

“Have you spoken to many lizards lately?” Socrates asks.

Crowley narrows his snake eyes at him. Socrates laughs, and the other men laugh too, for entirely different reasons.

Meanwhile, Aziraphale stares into his cup, seemingly deep in thought.

“I think happiness is about love. All of it comes down to love,” Aristophanes says lightly.

“Oh god, here we go,” Protagoras moans, flopping onto his back.

Crowley drains his wine, leaving a pleasantly bitter note on his tongue, before asking, “Are you going to tell us that weird story about the gods making humans with four arms and legs, then- what was it? Splitting them in half so they spend the rest of their sad little lives trying to find each other?”

“It’s true!” Aristophanes exclaims, slamming a hand on the table. “It’s absolutely true, how else could you explain love? And I mean all of it- agape, eros, all of it- that feeling of, fuck, this person fulfils me. They complete me, the other half of a whole. How else can you explain that feeling of home you get with someone when you love them so wholly?”

Crowley had been ready to argue. He likes arguing and ranting when he’s drunk, but suddenly it deflates. He feels the words melt away on his tongue like raindrops on dry earth, and he finds himself looking at Aziraphale.

And Aziraphale looks back.

And then they both look away.

And now the whole room is looking at them.

“On matters of love,” Socrates says slowly, meaningfully- interrupting the silence as he always does, “I think many of us can talk confidently.”

“It’s not something I can argue easily about, I’m afraid.”

As soon as Aziraphale says this, Crowley looks at him again. He’s surprised by his words, he’s intrigued by the strange tone of voice, and he’s transfixed by the way his toga is falling off his shoulder. By the distant look in his eye, gaze fixed on his empty cup. Soft hair, soft expression. Soft pink tint to his neck. Looking so much more undone than he did that day on the wall of Eden.

“Do try, Aziraphale, old chap,” Protagoras encourages gently.

They all wait for him to speak. And Crowley wonders whether he should continue ranting, keep on chatting bollocks like he usually does so he can save Aziraphale from having to talk about this- the look on his face is too self-conscious for him to handle. But then Aziraphale opens his mouth, and begins to speak.

“I don’t think it’s as simple as two halves making a whole. I think… that rather implies that each half isn’t good enough without the other. And I’m afraid I can’t agree with that at all. It isn’t about completing each other, it’s about complimenting each other. And often, it isn’t about being the same, but being different- different enough that you keep each other on your toes. Similar enough that you don’t need to explain your every thought, yes- a tacit understanding. Cut from the same cloth perhaps… but, no, not the same. Not exactly.

“And, actually, I think it’s far more about the effort you put in to learn about each other. Not about being destined to be together, though there’s something nice about that too. About some… ineffable… force, bringing you together. No, there must also be will. There must also be a desire to try, to listen, to learn and improve yourself. It is not enough to simply be made for each other. You have to tell them that you see them for who they are, individually. And that you love them for that. That you love them for their imperfections. Because… love isn’t perfect. It can be terrible, actually. Terrible and wonderful in equal measures.”

The cicadas creak. The air is warm. Aziraphale’s bright eyes gaze dreamily out towards the courtyard- then look away, nervously. His neck arches as he turns his head. And Crowley feels like he might float away.

Either he’s had too much wine, or he’s too much in love with Aziraphale to handle this mortal plane, right now.

Socrates takes a slow, deep breath. “Bloody hell.”

Aziraphale only looks the other way, hands fiddling nervously with each other.

Then, breaking the mood instantly, as ever, Aristophanes announces: “What about sex, though? I mean, sex is a pleasure, no less virtuous than the next, but still a pleasure- I mean, love is a pleasure? Isn’t it, old friend, old Socrates, old buddy old pal? A right old pain in the arse, too, yes, but does giving into love make you a hedonist? Does it make you-?”

Crowley doesn’t listen as they bicker. He doesn’t listen, because his wine-drunk mind has made the bold decision to move his hand to rest on Aziraphale’s back.

It hovers there. Crowley watches it move in the same way a cat might spot it’s tail flicking, eyes widening in distrust and a look of don’t even fucking think about it. Thankfully, his hand decides not to misbehave and removes itself from the space above Aziraphale’s back before making contact.

Just in time, since Aziraphale has turned to look at him- his hand darts to his head, which he scratches in an attempt to mask his awkwardness.

“Are you thinking of heading home soon, then?” Aziraphale says quietly, for only him to hear.

Crowley bites his bottom lip in thought. And if Aziraphale watches him do so, he doesn’t notice.

“Hmmm- yeah. Ready to call it a night, I reckon.”

“I think if I drink any more of this I’ll start talking more nonsense,” Aziraphale adds. And Crowley finds himself frowning at the self-deprecating smile he’s wearing.

“Alright. Well, it’s not like we don’t all come here and get pissed every Friday, no need to hang around any longer if you don’t want, always next week.”

“Will you walk me home?”

Crowley’s brows raise, as if to say: that’s new, you don’t usually ask. I always walk you home and we’ve never explicitly mentioned it, so what’s changed this time? Meanwhile, his mind is saying: aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-

“Obviously,” is what he ends up saying. And the angel’s pleased smile makes something in him flutter. He thinks it might be anticipation, but for what, he can’t yet tell.

The cicadas continue to creak, and they sit side by side for another few minutes before taking leave. Neither one of them look at each other. Crowley watches the curtains float with the evening breeze.

 

“And whilst I’m sure Alcibiades is probably much nicer in person, I’ve heard so many terrible things. It’s obviously not right to judge people based purely on gossip- Athens is so filled with gossip, isn’t it?- but I do wonder if. Well. If Aristophanes and Socrates and the others aren’t big fans of him, I rather think he must be a bad sort. Do you know, Crowley, he went round and desecrated a street full of Hermes statues the other day-”

“What, the ones with the giant cocks?”

Aziraphale tuts at him and rolls his eyes, shoulders jiggling like he’s ruffling his wings in disapproval. “I think the proper term is phallic. But yes, those ones. I admit I don’t understand how the Greeks could view them as anything near holy, but they do, and Alcibiades desecrated them, so that doesn’t paint him in a particularly good light.”

“’Spose not.”

“And I’ll tell you what else I heard at the market-” Aziraphale points a finger at Crowley, and he reckons he’s going to hear whether he likes it or not.

He does.

The sun is setting and the sky has turned a strange pink. Crowley balances precariously as he walks along a thin strip in the road, caused by hundreds of years of wagon tracks. He’s too drunk to put one foot directly in front of the other, like he’s on a tight-rope, so he slips occasionally into the deep track. They walk side by side, Aziraphale fussing a little over his toga, which keeps slipping off his shoulder.

“And I think that Chloe’s honey cake is actually far better than Thalia’s, but you didn’t hear that from me. I think she adds a cup of water in the oven, so it’s somehow moister. Really very clever, remarkable- we were talking about it the other day- oh, Crowley, it was ever so awkward, we were talking about it outside the temple of Apollo, and they kept asking me why I wouldn’t go in with them, just to pay a small tribute. I’m not sure how much longer I can put up the façade.”

Crowley walks behind Aziraphale, hands behind his back. He likes to follow just a step behind, or maybe even out in front whilst walking backwards- just so he can see Aziraphale better. View him, like he’s examining a statue.

“Last time I checked, you were telling everyone that you were avoiding an ex who works in the temple. Not buying it any more?”

Aziraphale sighs, rubs his face. He gets more flustered than usual when he’s drunk, and Crowley finds it all the more endearing. “Yes, yes, I think they do, but then I have to come up with a whole- a whole backstory about this person and I’m- I hate lying, Crowley.”

“It’s almost funny,” he replies with a smirk. Because he knows that Aziraphale won’t find it funny. “We’ve spent a couple of millennia with you building temples and whatnot to God, me not being able to go in. Then you find yourself around a bunch of raging pagans and it’s the other way around.”

“It’s not funny at all,” Aziraphale retorts, confirming Crowley’s suspicions and only making him that much smirkier. “It feels strange. Not being allowed in public places like that.”

Crowley shrugs, falling back into step with Aziraphale and joining his side. “You get used to it.”

They look at each other. Aziraphale looks not quite pitiful, something closer to sympathetic. Crowley stares down at the dirty road feeling, for some reason, too uncomfortable to look at that expression.

The streets are quiet, all except for the sound of some Bacchic revelry roaring in the distance. The silhouette of the acropolis in the distance, set against a pink-orange sky. The two of them bumping a little tipsily into each other, and neither one making any apology for it. And since it’s strange for Aziraphale not to be chattering on about something, Crowley peers over. Sees that there’s a thoughtful pinch to his brow, wide eyes staring intently at the road and lips set in a harsh line.

Crowley bumps into him, intentionally this time. Aziraphale breathes a sharp intake of breath, like he’s just remembered he’s not alone.

“What’s wrong with you, then?”

Aziraphale shakes his head, frowns at him defensively. “Nothing, why would you ask such a thing, I’m perfectly fine.”

“You’re acting weird.”

“No I’m not,” he retorts, smoothing down the pleat in his toga.

A chicken struts across the road in front of him, and Crowley watches it in amusement before replying, “You are.”

“I’m absolutely fine, just enjoying a quiet walk home with my friend.”

And Crowley watches him. Hands clasped behind his back. Bends around so he can see Aziraphale’s face better- who shoots him a peripheral glance, then looks away self-consciously.

“No, go on, what is it? Is it something one of the others said?”

Aziraphale twists his lips. “Not exactly.”

“’Cause you know they’re all tossers. Whatever it is, just ignore them, angel, they chat bollocks constantly, not worth taking anything they say seriously. I know Plato bangs on about jotting down everything Socrates says, but I’d put my money on that never happening, none of it’s particularly insightful. I don’t think.”

Aziraphale nods a little to himself, seeming unconvinced. Crowley continues to watch him as they walk.

Neither one of them really notice quite how much Crowley watches Aziraphale.

Anyway,” Aziraphale announces eventually with a shaky smile and a dismissive flick of his hands. “No matter. I reckon we should go and see Euripides’ new play next week, if we can squeeze ourselves in.”

Crowley accepts the change in conversation. No point in pushing it, even if Aziraphale’s smile is too tense. “Oooh, controversial, angel. Aristophanes won’t like that.”

Aziraphale veers into him drunkenly. Crowley guides him back into the middle of the empty pavement with a gentle hand on his back.

“Don’t say it like that, what Aristophanes doesn’t know won’t hurt him,” he replies primly.

“And- also, sorry- doesn’t Euripides like to talk about sons shagging their mothers and all that sort of thing? Oedipus, wasn’t it?”

“Not exclusively, dear.”

“I dunno, sounds a bit corrupt to me, angel. Some might even say raunchy-”

Stop that, thank you.”

Stop that,” he mimics.

Crowley gives him a wicked little sneer. It’s meant to be mocking, but Aziraphale actually smiles back, strangely shyly. Crowley’s always had a feeling that the angel likes to be teased, and it’s partially why he continues to do it- but Aziraphale hasn’t confirmed as such. Sometimes, Crowley wonders what’s going on inside his head. He wonders why Aziraphale spends time with him at all, why he should risk everything just to fraternise with a demon.

They don’t talk to each other about these things.

Well. He knows why he likes spending time with Aziraphale, at least. Why he likes to be by his side, even when Aziraphale’s being mardy with him. Even when he’s sulking because something didn’t quite go his way. Even when he says nice things to him, too nice, nice enough that it makes Crowley self-conscious and confused. Even when he calls him his friend, even when he beams at him thoughtlessly, sharing a daft joke or piece of gossip or news of some miracle and Crowley feels that aching sense of what if.

Daft or not, Crowley hangs off of his every word.

And before long, they’re outside Aziraphale’s apartment building. From the outside, the terracotta brick is a fiery pink in the sunset.

Then, Aziraphale turns and looks at him expectantly. Eyes wide and inexplicably hopeful. And it’s not just his expression that’s striking, that makes Crowley’s throat dry and his skin burn in a way that has nothing to do with the day’s scorching heat. It’s somehow- he can’t explain it- it’s somehow to do with the way Aziraphale turns his head first to look over his shoulder. His look softening as soon as their eyes meet. Peering over at him almost coquettishly, then his body following, back facing the door.

Crowley stands in front of him and swallows, fumbles, not knowing what Aziraphale is looking for, but desperate to give it.

They pause like this outside for a long moment. Aziraphale fiddles with the belt of his toga, brows raised and mouth opening to speak, then closing again.

“You could come in for a night cap, if you wanted,” he eventually manages.

Ah, at last, something normal and familiar in this strangely awkward situation. Booze is, after all, their common ground. Crowley pouts in contemplation- looks up at the sunset and consults his mental clock. “Ah, why not. Haven’t got anywhere to be tomorrow.”

Aziraphale seems pleased with this response, lets them both inside where it’s considerably cooler. The building is quiet- probably because the other members of this sharehouse are partying at the Bacchus revels. It’s only then that Crowley realises that he’s never been inside here before; it’s no different from all the other Athenian apartment buildings, but somehow, it feels weird, knowing that this is Aziraphale’s.

“I would have loved to have found an entire apartment for my own, rather than having to share,” the angel says, as if reading Crowley’s mind, leading them down a corridor and up some stairs. He picks up the hem of his toga as he goes. “That way I wouldn’t have to hide all my wine under my bed so the others don’t steal it from the kitchen.”

“Why don’t you?”

“Well, there’s that terrible housing crisis, isn’t there. Seems a little unfair to have a whole house or flat to myself, when everyone else is suffering.”

Crowley snorts, wrinkles his nose. “How very good of you.”

Aziraphale doesn’t reply, which usually means he’s donning a disapproving expression instead. Lamentably, Crowley can’t see it with Aziraphale’s back to him.

There’s the sound of life from the living room, and Crowley can see a few blokes leaning around the table drinking. Then, Aziraphale pauses, unlocking a door, presumably to his room, and stepping aside to let Crowley through- gaze fixed intently on the floor.

And it’s a normal room. Just a bedroom- painted-white walls, terracotta tiled floor, shuttered window. Candles flickering alight miraculously. About as basic as they come. And yet-

“You’ve got a bed,” is the first thing out of Crowley’s mouth. Because his brain isn’t a master of words, and it certainly isn’t a slave to his lips- which would much rather he’d have waited before saying that out loud.

Aziraphale gives him a sardonic look that says, yes, well spotted, and goes to open the shutters. The white curtains flutter with a burst of fresh air, and Aziraphale leans on the windowsill, back to Crowley, looking out at the sunset.

Crowley turns his attention to the bed.

Then he crouches, looking underneath.

“Found your wine.”

“Then I suggest you take a couple of bottles and crack one open,” Aziraphale replies distantly. A cockerel crows outside through the open window, apparently a little confused about the time of day.

Crowley stretches for a bottle- reaches for an amphora jug, rolling it towards him with the tips of his fingers. He growls impatiently, miracles it closer, and grabs it by the neck. When he emerges from beneath the bed, he looks around to see Aziraphale sat on the edge just above him. Crowley shoves the amphora in his direction, and the angel takes it.

“Here.”

“Thank you.”

“You got cups?”

“Yes, in the kitchen somewhere.”

Crowley waits for Aziraphale to go fetch them, but finds an imploring look instead.

'I’ve been thinking,' Aziraphale starts.

“I’m not going, I can’t be arsed,” Crowley says. “Drink straight from the bottle, for all I care.”

Aziraphale’s eyes look about the room as he considers his options. He cocks his head in concession and pops the cork.

“You know you’ve chosen the nice stuff, this isn’t just any ordinary plonk,” Aziraphale says resentfully. “I was saving this.”

“What for,” Crowley wrinkles his nose. “What’ve we got to celebrate other than our shit, useless jobs.”

Aziraphale stares at him. “Take your blasphemy elsewhere, I shall take no part in it.”

“Besides, I knew that was the nice one. It’s got the Trojan War on it and everything, lots of naked blokes wrestling. Only the best wine comes in containers that homoerotic.”

Crowley waits for a reprimanding swat, or wholehearted agreement. Instead, Aziraphale makes no response other than a distant mmm, and takes a long swig.

He watches from the floor, a little dumbstruck. Stares at Aziraphale’s throat bobbing as he drinks. Notices the red flush across the skin of his chest.

A bead of red wine dripping down the corner of his mouth. And Crowley’s mouth drops open, like a dog panting.

He should probably sober up rather than continue drinking. Then again-

“I’ve been thinking,” Aziraphale starts.

There’s a hefty pause. Aziraphale looks towards the open window in hesitation, staring at something that isn’t there. Crowley splays out his palms expectantly - it probably comes across as impatience. It’s more that he’s completely baffled. Because he can’t help but wonder why on Earth has Aziraphale invited him in for a drink, when all night he’s been acting strange and defensive and-

“I’ve been thinking,” Aziraphale says again. Then, “No. Never mind, it’s nothing.”

He gets back up on his feet and pushes the amphora towards Crowley. He takes it, slides up to nab Aziraphale’s vacant spot on the bed. Eyes fixed on the angel as he drifts across the room into the rose-red light of the sunset.

“Uh-oh,” Crowley mumbles, examining the painting on the amphora. “Wouldn’t do that if I were you. Thinking. Spit it out, angel, what’ve you been thinking.”

“No, really, it’s nothing.” Which usually means that in about five seconds, it’s not going to be nothing.

Five. He hovers by the window, back turned to Crowley. Four. This isn’t the relaxed banter they usually have. Three. There’s none of the light-hearted bickering and play-fighting. Two. Usually he’ll go on a drunk rant and Aziraphale will agree with him seriously, or Aziraphale will rave about some new poem anthology and Crowley will listen patiently. One. But instead, something in the air feels heavy.

Unfamiliar-

“It’s just- oh, I don’t know, Crowley. It’s what Aristophanes was saying.”

Crowley takes a swig where Aziraphale had drunk. It’s good enough wine, but his mind is fixed on the idea that they’ve shared the lips of this jug. The thought makes him drunker than the alcohol. He swallows, and sighs. “Angel, I told you already. They’re all idiots- they’re- I- look- it’s- you can’t take anything they say seriously. Especially not Aristophanes, the mad bastard.”

“Well, I suppose it’s what Protagoras was saying, too.”

“Aziraphale, aren’t you listening to what I’m saying-?”

“It’s this whole hedonism business.”

At that, Crowley feels a smile grow. A little burst of affection in his chest. “Oh, yeah? Hedonism would suit you, angel.”

“Well, quite.” The hem of Aziraphale’s toga flows in the breeze, almost looking like it’s a part of the thin, white curtains. His shoulders are set rigidly. And he looks down at his feet, pauses, before toeing off his sandals. Crowley watches with a tilted head. Aziraphale continues, “I rather think I’ve always been a hedonist. Angels are meant to be modest. They’re meant to be restrained and happy to live off nothing but the nourishment of God’s love. And then here I am, storing bottles of Achaean wine under my bed and sampling honey cake.”

Crowley snorts. Laughing is all he can do to alleviate whatever tension is hanging between them. “God’s love isn’t very satisfying. Or nourishing. Cake’s better.”

Aziraphale ignores this blatant blasphemy, powers on: “I sometimes wonder, secretly- between you and me- whether I fit into God’s definition of good-”

A jolt of alarm. “What are you talking about?”

“-But if life’s pleasure and virtue are linked, as Protagoras says, then I suppose I’m not doing too badly, am I?”

And then Aziraphale looks over his shoulder at Crowley again. The too-light tone of the conversation, the weird strain between them snaps and Crowley feels disorientated, like he’s been knocked out of place. Like he’s fallen into a river, and he’s being swept away by some current he can’t see, God knows where.

“Still- still don’t know what you’re getting at, Aziraphale.”

The angel blinks, smiles a sad smile. It looks disappointed, and Crowley is wincing at him in confusion.

“It’s nothing, nothing at all.”

“Stop saying that,” Crowley snaps.

Aziraphale sighs between pursed lips, rubs his face again. “Right. I’m a little tipsy- not drunk, mind, but, tipsy. And I know I’m not making sense, that’s all.”

“And I’m not entirely sober either, so,” Crowley presses his hands on the bed behind him and leans backwards, “if I’m not following, you’ll just have to use short, caveman words for me, angel.”

“Fine. Fine. Pleasure. I’m talking about pleasure, Crowley. It’s just- it’s not something I ever really thought about before- the fact that I’m rather. Let’s say, indulgent.”

“Alright,” Crowley says slowly.

“And,” Aziraphale turns towards him again- head ducked, big, pale eyes looking up at him through dark lashes. “Well, I suppose that Protagoras got me thinking about why I don’t feel guilty about it. About indulging.”

“Alright,” Crowley says again.

“Which is an interesting new perspective. Compared to the stuff that Gabriel usually preaches.” Just the smallest hint of resentment there, Crowley thinks. “And it does beg the question- so long as nothing is done in excess, then what really is so wrong in enjoying human pleasures?”

“You’re- I’m not the right person to argue with you on that one, if you’re looking for an opposing opinion.”

“I’m not,” he says quickly. He begins pacing very slowly, fiddling with the belt of his toga. Feet padding softly against the floor. There’s something strangely intimate about that sound to Crowley. “But it’s not just about what Protagoras said, it’s what Aristophanes said, too.”

Crowley exhales lengthily, hanging his head back and staring at the ceiling. “I don’t have the energy for another symposium, angel. I’m knackered, thought you were too, that’s why we left.”

“I’m not- this isn’t a debate, you asked me to tell you what’s on my mind, and I’m telling you!”

“Alright, alright, don’t get your wings in a twist.”

“Well, it’s essentially about sex.”

Crowley frowns, then returns his head to its original position, looking at Aziraphale.

Who’s looking back.

“Right,” Crowley replies uncertainly.

They’ve briefly skated over the topic before. Mostly, they’d both been interested in whether the other had done it. Neither of them had at the time, and Crowley hadn’t really thought much about it. Sex is just sex, and it hadn’t interested him any more than a plate of food might. It’s a very human thing, and human is not him. But then, he has been curious. And curiosity very much is him.

Aziraphale is different- Aziraphale explicitly likes human things. And Aziraphale is looking at him differently now, compared to how he did during that previous conversation, all those centuries ago. This time, he isn’t looking at him like this is a prim, scientific exchange of knowledge. He’s looking at him with something far more vulnerable, and it makes the back of Crowley’s neck prickle with heat.

“Sssex,” he prompts, when Aziraphale seems to stall. Not that he’s doing much better.

“Out of all the Earthly pleasures that I’ve indulged in, sex is the one I haven’t tried,” he continues, laying this out like he’s in court, making a case. Pacing from one side of the room to the other, gesticulating. “And I suppose a part of that is because of some lingering sense of guilt, of shame, but really, I think it’s largely that I’ve not been all that interested. It doesn’t fluster me or disgust me, it- well, it sounds rather straightforward, really, nothing to be embarrassed about.”

“Yes. No,” Crowley croaks. “I mean, yes.”

“But something has held me back from it, and I think it’s because it- erm. It rather matters to me who I would do such a thing with. Have you ever had sex before?”

The suddenness of the question makes him blink dumbly. Mouth hanging open, teeth clicking when he shuts it. “Yeah. Yeah, not in a long time, though. Wanted to know what the fuss was about.”

“And?”

“Yeah, it’s- no, yeah, it’s good, I suppose, in the grand scheme of things. Not Earth shattering, but- I think it does depend on who you do it with.”

“How many- that is to say…”

“Wh-? You’re-? Oh- yeah- sure, brilliant, yes, I’ll just give you a drop list of my sexual partners, shall I?”

“No, that’s not what I meant to ask at all.”

They both stare at each other wordlessly. Aziraphale hovers in the middle of the room, a determined look in his eye but clearly on edge as he fusses over the pleats of his toga. And Crowley sits on the edge of the bed, suddenly very aware that it’s a bed that he’s sitting on. Aziraphale’s bed.

It makes him feel heavy and light-headed all at once.

“Alright,” Crowley says. He swallows, licks his lips. Aziraphale’s gaze shifts to watch the action, and Crowley takes a deep, slow breath. And his chest- fuck, his chest is pounding like drum, so much so he’s half tempted to miracle his heart away just so he doesn’t have to feel it. He swears he can hear it. Corporeal forms are too much hard work, sometimes. “Alright. Listen, Aziraphale, if you’re implying what I think you’re implying- you’ve got to stop beating about the bush, ‘cause, if I have the wrong idea and I make myself look like an arse, I’ll just- I’ll show myself out.”

Of course, the fact that he’s actually been flirting with him for the past couple of millennia is entirely beside the point. He’d been working off the assumption that Aziraphale hadn’t noticed, even if he’d wanted him to.

And the sun has pretty much fully set by this point; the room is fairly dark, Aziraphale is stood in a pale half-light, draped in white and almost ghostly. The candles casting dancing shadows on the walls. And Crowley grips onto the amphora for dear life. Maybe the little Greek heroes will jump out of the painting and come save him from whatever embarrassment is in store for him.

But then Aziraphale steps forwards. Slowly. A certainty in his eye that isn’t entirely devoid of nervousness, is far more akin to anticipation.

Crowley gives a smirk that he hopes isn’t shaky. He hopes it’s as cool and suave as he’s trying to make it look. “So. You really want to do this, angel?”

Aziraphale stops right in front of him- and, ah. That’s it. The moment that Aziraphale halts before him, the edge of his silhouette caught in evening light, a soft smile across his face, full of pure love and affection. Something holy. A smile that people sing about in hymns- not in Greece, of course, but in other parts of the world. An angel smiling down on a demon with absolute adoration. Crowley feels undeserving and yet far, far too lucky to question it.

“My dear, if there is one person in the universe I trust to do this with, it’s you.”

And it’s strange. That after all those millennia of flirting- of gazing at Aziraphale openly, of giving him the odd cheeky smirk, of gently teasing him and pulling his proverbial pigtails- Crowley finds that none of that swagger is here, now. None of the confidence that fuels his sauntering is here, because now, Aziraphale has noticed- or at least, is really looking at him. Looking at him with that sweet, soft expression that hides a multitude of very unangelic things. Things like pride, things like gluttony, things like, apparently, lust. It knocks the wind out of his sails.

It’s also strange, because Crowley’s been in love with Aziraphale for a long time, but he’d never imagined this. He never imagined anything would ever actually happen, and even if he had, he’d have never thought he’d be this nervous.

And then, his best and only friend of just over three thousand years lays a hand on his cheek.

And then, Crowley lays his hand over Aziraphale’s, lets it run up along his arm.

And then, they stand there, wondering what should come next. The room silent, warm.

“Aziraphale.”

And then, Aziraphale steps closer- there’s nowhere else to go except Crowley’s lap, and so that’s exactly where he goes. Leaning a knee on the bed to one side of Crowley, leaning his hands on his shoulders. His toga riding up to his thighs.

Crowley’s mouth is dry from hanging open. He doesn’t bother shutting it. He stares at the sight of Aziraphale’s legs, just. Right there. He’s never seen anything more than his shoulders. It’s distracting, and unmistakable- even if there’s a screaming voice in his head telling him this can’t be happening. Aziraphale is comfortingly heavy in his lap.

His mouth gets impossibly dryer. His heart beat heavier.

His hands run up Aziraphale’s legs, and he feels the muscles tense beneath unfamiliar hands.

Eventually, Crowley finds the decency to look up, and finds a very dazed Aziraphale. Dazed, but somehow also intense.

“Hello,” he says with a bright, self-deprecating smile.

Crowley adores him. “Hello.”

“I’m sitting in your lap.”

“Yep- that, that you are.”

“Is that alright? I did sort of just, do it, didn’t I-?”

“More than OK. No complaints from me.”

Aziraphale’s hands, resting on his shoulders, move along his neck. The feeling is- he hadn’t expected any of this. He hadn’t prepared, he wishes he’d known, so he could have a chance to absorb every feeling- he wants to have a moment to get rid of some of the rubbish that’s clogging his brain, all the thousands of years of shit he’s collected so that he can replace it all with this moment. Catalogue every second. Brand his thoughts with the sensation of Aziraphale running his fingers through every curl of his hair.

He could be embarrassed about the sigh that escapes his lips. He isn’t.

“As someone who’s never done anything like this before,” Aziraphale begins, a little business-like, “I’m turning to you for recommendations.”

“Recommendations,” he breathes, dreamily. Aziraphale’s fingers in his fucking hair.

“Yes. How do people start with this sort of thing?”

“I suppose people usually start by touching themselves,” he says, without thinking. Then, “In that- in, you know. Because it gives people a sense of what they like. A lot of people explore that urge before they do the rest.”

“Oh, yes.” Aziraphale’s voice may be serious, but his expression- the way he’s looking at him through his lashes, head dipped. A small, satisfied smile. The bastard knows exactly what he’s doing to him. “So, you’d recommend, from personal experience…”

“Have you ever-?”

“Not once.”

“Not once? You weren’t even a little curious?”

“I suppose I just never thought about it. We’re not all questioning snakes of Eden.”

“You’re curious enough now, though.”

And Aziraphale’s smile widens- his eyes shooting up to the ceiling self-consciously. And Crowley’s mouth, as ever, starts moving before his brain has caught up with what he wants to say.

“Let me- could- would- can I kiss you,” he fumbles.

Aziraphale’s smile fades- not in a way that’s sad. Perhaps more serious; recognising the weight of the moment, maybe. His hands rest against Crowley’s cheeks. Then, one of them removes his glasses. The room is suddenly lighter, Aziraphale is suddenly clearer, and that smile is suddenly wider, purer. Brighter. He lays the glasses carefully on the bed beside him.

And then he bends down to kiss him.

Crowley sighs against his mouth.

He hadn’t really expected him to do it. He’s not sure why, considering that Aziraphale has been the one to straddle him and suggest everything else, but the kiss- he had thought there might be some hesitation, so nervousness, some coy batting of eyelids. There is none of that. The angel simply smiles, like God did in the beginning. Places his lips with sweet certainty against Crowley’s. It’s as simple as that.

It drives him mad that he hadn’t thought to suggest it earlier.

His lips are warm. Of course they are, this shouldn’t be a surprise, lips are generally warm- but they’re Aziraphale’s, and Crowley hadn’t ever actually let himself imagine how it would be to kiss Aziraphale. More than that, though, what is really is surprising is that his kiss isn’t just warm- it burns.

Aziraphale’s kiss tingles. It’s a sensation that could be unpleasant, except it really, really isn’t. And it takes a moment or two for Crowley to notice, then another moment to understand.

Ah- consecrated ground, he muses to himself.

There’s no way he’s going to stop and point it out- not if it means making Aziraphale worry, making this end. It feels good, it feels right to have him this close. To hear his breath, hear the quiet sounds of their lips parting. To have Aziraphale’s hands cupping his face, almost protectively.

To know that he can run his hands along his thighs, pushing up the hem of Aziraphale’s toga.

Their kiss breaks as Aziraphale gasps.

“Tell me to shove off if you want me to shove off,” Crowley says, voice breaking into a whisper. “This- it doesn’t have to be any different to us going out for dinner or sharing a bottle of wine or going for a walk through the mountains. If you change your mind, you change your mind.”

And then, it’s Aziraphale who hums. Pressing his forehead against Crowley’s and making a gentle, approving noise. Crowley’s eyes flutter shut as he feels his thumb stroke across his cheekbone, instinctively pouts his lips and leans in for another kiss. And he’s so warm- he feels too warm, with this hot weather and the candles and the negligible breeze and Aziraphale so thoroughly on top of him, lips burning still, but he wouldn’t change this moment for a thing. If this is overheating, he’s happy to spontaneously combust every waking moment of every day.

“I’m quite set on doing this, my dear. If you are.”

“Yes-” Crowley rushes- too fast, not at all suave or cool or self-restrained, not even a tiny bit. All those centuries of work undone. “Yes, absolutely, yes.”

“As you say. No different to a walk.”

He nods, enthusiastically. “No, yes. Definitely.”

“Just another nice thing, another-”

He stops abruptly, like water has been poured over the fire of his words. Crowley opens his eyes, sees Aziraphale’s eyes are have fallen closed, lips slightly parted, brows knit together. Crowley looks further down, slowly, sees how his free hand- the one not on Crowley’s cheek- has wound underneath his toga and is stroking himself. Having not quite figured out what to do, other than trace his fingers gently along his length.

“-another pleasure,” Aziraphale breathes.

“Fuck,” Crowley responds.

And he supposes he shouldn’t be surprised. There’s no reason why Aziraphale should be hesitant or embarrassed or any of those things, he’s never felt that way surrounding his partiality for top quality olive oil or any other exciting thing humans are doing with food these days. And angels don’t feel shame- modesty, yes, but shame- no, shame is human. Shame is what Eve felt when she realised she was naked. Angels never went through that process.

And yet he is surprised. And he’s star-struck, too, frozen and speechless and a lot of things as he looks back up at Aziraphale, face tilted slightly skywards and eyes closed, lips parted and brow furrowed in concentration. Is captivated by the angle that he is watching him from; Crowley is only an inch or so taller than Aziraphale, but it feels a little world-changing, looking at him from below. Looking up at him like he should be on his knees praying. Worshipping him. In a way, he sort of is. At least, he feels reverent.

His hands come to rest on Aziraphale’s hips, pushing the folds of fabric further out of the way. Silky soft material falling over the even softer folds of his body. And Crowley watches. Entirely captivated.

And whilst angels might not feel shame, demons do.

He feels like an imposter, feels like he’s committing some enormous sin, seeing this. And the demonic side of him says yes, brilliant, excellent, keep watching, whilst the other nameless part of him says this isn’t for you, this isn’t for you.

The thing that snaps him out of this untimely moment of conflict is the way Aziraphale sighs- the moment his thumb brushes over the head, the breath pouring out of him in a happy trickle. A little smile on his face. As if he’s simply woken up from a satisfying nap. It’s such an innocent look of pleasure that Crowley feels, suddenly, that there couldn’t be anything wrong with this- couldn’t be anything wrong with Aziraphale sharing this with him.

“Tell me how it feels,” he finds himself saying. His voice is remarkably even, given how much his body feels like it’s about to start vibrating and breaking at the joints. “Tell me what it feels like, angel.”

Aziraphale’s eyes crack open slightly, and he gazes down at him. Lips still parted, face still angled upwards. It almost looks imperious.

“It feels,” he breaks off, brow creasing. And Crowley watches the way his chest rises, taking in a slow, silent breath. “It feels- I don’t know really,” he says with a breathy laugh.

“Does it feel good?”

And that sounds awfully like his tempting voice. Except he’s not the one tempting- he’s definitely the tempted. So tempted that he finds himself holding onto Aziraphale’s hips and leaning towards him. Head tilted in awe. Gazing at him, entranced.

“It feels,” Aziraphale tries again, eyes looking over Crowley’s shoulder distantly as he tries to find the words. His fingers moving gently, carefully, thoughtfully. Crowley watches, mouth hanging open, completely undignified. “It feels… it makes me want more.”

His eyes flick back up at him. “Like you’re excited for what comes next.”

“Exactly,” he beams, gratified that Crowley understands.

“Do you want a- uh. Suggestion?”

“If you have one. Although, I was also thinking you could just show me.”

Crowley should be ashamed of how quickly his hand moves from Aziraphale’s hip to the material of his own toga. But he isn’t, especially since his own arousal has been nagging at him for however-long he’s been staring at Aziraphale touching himself, straddling him, a flush of pink running down his neck and-

Fuck this is all too much. It’s perfect, and it’s too much. No number of millennia could have prepared him.

“You want me to…” he asks quietly. “I’m just checking. Don’t want- don’t want- to be that arsehole who gets it wrong-”

“I want to see how you do it,” Aziraphale says gently. His free hand pushes away the hair from Crowley’s face- it wasn’t in his face in the first place. But it feels nice. And Aziraphale continues to stroke his hair, and say, “I want to know how you like it, love.”

“Don’t-” Crowley hiccups, squeezes his eyes shut. He can’t look at Aziraphale when he does this, can’t look at him when he says that word- the heat of embarrassment prickling his face. That embarrassment doesn’t stop his hand from winding between his own legs, making small, almost comforting movements. “Don’t-”

Crowley. You’re miraculous.”

He feels Aziraphale’s breath against his lips and he whimpers.

“Stop it.”

“You look… delicious.” He laughs. “What a strange thing for me to say, where did that come from, I wonder-?”

Aziraphale.

The feeling of Aziraphale’s weight on him. The feeling of his hand massaging himself whilst Aziraphale watches, fucking Hell-

“You do. You look beautiful.”

“Angel.”

“I love you.”

The feeling of his heart in his throat when he hears those words.

“Don’t say that sort of thing unless you mean it.”

“That I love you?” He looks hurt. “Crowley, how could I not?”

“Don’t say it-” Crowley rests his forehead against Aziraphale’s shoulder. “Don’t say it like it’s obvious. You’re so- you’re so-”

“Oh, but it is.”

And Crowley finds his head being tilted upwards again, is still taking in a surprised breath when Aziraphale’s lips press against his. And he doesn’t need to breathe necessarily, but his mortal body seems to think that he’s drowning right now, desperate for air- he takes a shuddering lungful and darts his tongue into Aziraphale’s mouth- tastes him. Lets his mouth burn for his curiosity. Kisses him deeply and slowly, and then kisses him along his jaw line, below his ear, tastes the salty sweat on his skin. Sweet but bitter, like yoghurt and honey.

Then Aziraphale says, lips grazing Crowley’s, “Who did you think I was talking about this evening, in the symposium?”

Crowley swallows, frowns. Opens his eyes and finds himself looking back into serious, blue eyes. And he has to concentrate to take himself back to the symposium, which could only have been an hour ago- fumbles to remember what Aziraphale had said-

“My other half,” Aziraphale says softly. A smile so affectionate it almost looks painful.

That makes Crowley blink up at him, shake his head incredulously.

“Unbelievable,” he mutters. He could almost laugh. “Un-fucking-believable. I have been flirting with you. For over three thousand. Sodding well years. And… now...”

“Was it not obvious that I love you, all this time?”

“I- wh- no! No? It wasn’t, actually. How could I have possibly got that-? You’re-? Unbelievable. You drive me absolutely insane, I hope you realise- all this time, we could’ve-”

“Well. We’re here now, aren’t we?”

“Apparently.”

Aziraphale sighs silently. Whispers, “Crowley.”

Aziraphale kisses him again, and he kisses back, eagerly so. The hand on Aziraphale’s hip winding up his back under his toga- neither of them have bothered taking any clothes off. Not yet.

“I am tired,” Aziraphale mumbles, lips working down Crowley’s neck, “of lying to myself-” he nuzzles at the curve between Crowley’s neck and shoulder, “-of pretending- that sharing this with you- could be anything short of perfect-”

He feels Aziraphale’s hand cradling the back of his neck. He feels their arms trapped between them. He sees the blushing, freckled skin of Aziraphale’s shoulder. The strap of his toga falling away.

“And I am tired-” Aziraphale continues, words staggered and breaths shallow, “of pretending- that there could be any shame in this-”

Crowley swallows away the pain of that comment. Aziraphale might not feel shame in this; a part of Crowely still does. Perhaps that’s what prompts him to bite gently on Aziraphale’s shoulder. To run his tongue along the slope of his shoulder and suck, lightly nip till Aziraphale makes the most satisfying noise that Crowley’s ever beheld.

That noise is- “Ah-aaah-ah-!” Followed by, “God, do that again.”

He does. Of course he does, how couldn’t he? And the reaction is Aziraphale drawing in a slow, stuttering breath; an answering hand gripping the neck of Crowley’s toga. And then Crowley’s hand finding the small of Aziraphale’s back- pulling him closer till their hands bump clumsily together between them, till Crowley’s gripping him by the bum, the top of his thigh, pulling him closer and closer quite subconsciously until there’s no room for hands, only their bodies pressed together and wanting something more. It means, at least, that Crowley has both hands free to grab his hips and-

Mmm.

Crowley stalls for a moment. He stalls because he’s heard Aziraphale make that noise before. He’s heard him make that noise when they’ve walked past a bakery, the smell of sweets and bread in the air. That’s a noise that’s usually followed by: “That tasted scrumptious.

He therefore has to recalibrate his entire world view in order to categorise that noise within the following mental folders: Aziraphale: Activities with Aziraphale: Sex with Aziraphale: Hand jobs: Mutual Masturbation: Aziraphale’s Sex Noises.

And now they’re just grinding against each other. Messy and completely lacking any sophistication. Crowley’s hands running greedily up Aziraphale’s thighs, his arse, his hips, up and down his back, taking in as much as he can. The sounds of their lips parting. Aziraphale’s hands running through his hair and down his chest and pushing the straps of his toga from his shoulders so it slips away, so the angel can trace his blessed hands along his cursed body. His skin tingles in its wake.

His lips burn deliciously.

And it’s impossible. It’s mad. It’s unreal that this is happening, the dancing orange candle-lights in Aziraphale’s room and the taste of wine on his lips and his thighs embracing his hips and their bodies flush together and Aziraphale rocking instinctively against him and now Aziraphale’s lips running gently down his neck, he’s mimicking Crowley’s actions and trying them on him, and then Aziraphale sucks and runs his tongue along burning skin and Crowley whines, stares up at the sky and wonders-

No, prays-

How do you expect me to survive this?

And Aziraphale leans back a little, sounding a little shocked when he says, “Do you know, I think that’ll bruise.”

He doesn’t have the heart to say that it’ll probably do more than bruise- doesn’t have the bravery just yet to say that he’s very happy with that.

He finds the hem of Aziraphale’s toga and lifts.

The angel raises his arms in the air and laughs bashfully when he gets tangled in the toga material.

Crowley smiles up at him and his heart breaks into a billion, tiny, demonic pieces. He’s nowhere near worthy enough to see Aziraphale like this.

To see the landscape of his human body, entirely, soft and peach-blushed; to see the coy smile on his lips; the keen, nervous, joyful light in his eyes. A light in his eyes that’s possibly a little wicked.

Demons aren’t meant to see Heaven, and yet here he is.

The smile melts, and there’s that pinch between his brows; apprehension.

“What is it,” Crowley asks. His hands automatically rise to rest on Aziraphale’s forearms- a comforting gesture.

“Nothing, nothing at all, love,” Aziraphale replies quickly, genuinely. He strokes Crowley’s hair from his face again. He can see this becoming a habit. “Only, I’m just so terribly aware of how unfamiliar this all is for me. I wish I could take the lead a little, instead of leaving it all to you. I wish I knew a little better what comes next.”

“I’m,” Crowley shakes his head, word-stuck. “It’s fine, angel. All fine. We could do anything or nothing. You don’t need to be an expert. It’s. Whatever- whatever feels right. I’m happy with however you want me, any way at all, you could hang me upside down and I wouldn’t mind.”

“Well. That sounds a little more acrobatic than I’m willing to try, right now.”

Crowley holds back a laugh. He’s not ready to admit how deliriously happy he is- so he hides his smile with a kiss, pressing his lips roughly against Aziraphale’s. His lips sting; his eyes sting, too.

“In the meantime, if you’re wanting hints…” Crowley murmurs against Aziraphale’s mouth.

He snaps his fingers.

Crowley is now straddling Aziraphale- his knees pressed against the soft sheets of his bed- legs spread, the inside of his thighs feeling the warm of Aziraphale’s skin- toga falling to his hips- and looking down at Aziraphale, the candle-light catching gold flecks in his hair. Eyelids heavy, gaze admiring.

“I can show you anything you want,” Crowley mutters. He leans in, whispers beside Aziraphale’s ear. “I could make you feel good in ssssso many ways, angel.”

Aziraphale’s breath hitches. His hands grip Crowley’s thighs. Crowley smirks to himself.

He rolls his hips and the friction- it’s enough to make them both gasp.

“Crowley…”

And he could lean back and look down at Aziraphale’s shining angelic face as he speaks, watch the way the angel’s mouth falls open for shallow breaths. He could, but there’s that frightened, fractured piece of him that doesn’t want Aziraphale to see him. Not yet; not so drunkenly and blindly and stupidly in love. So he stays close, hidden, cheeks pressed together, lips beside Aziraphale’s ear- arms and legs wrapped round him- sliding further into his lap, pressing as close as possible- words pouring out of his mouth in a susurrating, tempting trickle.

“I’ve often thought about how this would play out.”

“Oh…? Really…?” Aziraphale asks too lightly.

His fingers digging into his back. Crowley shivers.

“Mmm,” he confirms. “You know… some Athenians… like to take their lovers… to secret caves or groves-”

…Groves…?

“Ssssecluded. Sacred. With… scented oils and rose petals and that sort of thing…” Heavy, tumbling breaths fall out of his mouth as he rocks his hips and squeezes tighter with his thighs and feels Aziraphale’s hands travel lightly down his spine and hears the moans catching in the angel’s throat. This can’t be real. It can’t be real, this can’t be the angel he met at Eden. He can’t seriously be fucking a Principality right now. “I could show you anything you want, tell you anything you want to know… I can do anything for you angel…” Aziraphale bucks his hips- he gasps- Crowley hisses- “… I could get down on my knees and worship you in ways you can’t imagine…”

Aziraphale giggles nervously.

He lays a gentle kiss on his neck- the skin just below his ear. The gentlest kiss.

“Could finally put that snake tongue and unhinging jaw to good use…”

Good Lord.” And whilst Aziraphale sounds scandalised, he does also sound intrigued.

And Crowley berates the fluttering feeling in his chest, internally snarls at the bashfulness that he feels taking over. Lets one hand find its way between his own thighs- lifts up his hips so he can-

“I could ride you ‘til you see stars,” he whispers. His fingers inside himself; panting hot plumes of air against Aziraphale’s shoulder. “However you want me, Aziraphale… I’ll do anything… I’m flexible…”

There’s a huff- an almost laugh. And whilst in day to day life, Crowley doesn’t tend to demonstrate multi-tasking skills, opting for the lazier option, now- now, he leans his forehead against Aziraphale’s shoulder- a far more self-conscious gesture than he’d like- and wraps his free hand around Aziraphale-

The response is a choking gasp- a surprised, hiccupping noise- Aziraphale’s hands resting on Crowley’s hips.

“Crowley-”

“Tell me to stop if-”

“Absolutely not,” Aziraphale rushes.

He feels the muscles in Aziraphale’s neck against his lips; he feels them tense as he tilts his head back a little, breathes heavily through his mouth; Crowley absorbs the sounds he’s making, parched for validation; absorbs every pleased, content little noise and desperate clutch, lets them run through his veins; finds himself thinking, once again, how surreal this is; concentrates on doing two things at once; his heart going through one million feelings at once.

“Crowley.” Aziraphale’s voice is low; it generally can be, but it’s never sounded so gravelly. And Aziraphale’s always been gentle, but he’s never held him like this. “Crowley… I know what I want.”

“Tell me… anything, Aziraphale, anything,” he babbles. Hides his face against his shoulder. His face growing hot.

He feels Aziraphale lean back a little- enough that Crowley stops what he’s doing with both hands, looks down at him. A look of determination, softened by affection, by a blush. Eyes scanning over Crowley’s face. A hand rising to stroke his cheek. Crowley’s eyes fall shut, the snake part of himself wriggling defensively in his chest. He’s being looked at. He’s being loved.

Crowley swallows, feels himself shiver.

Aziraphale’s thumb brushes along Crowley’s lips and his breath shudders. His chest wriggles again. Aziraphale’s fingers continue to skate over his cheeks, his jawbone, soft and decided, like he’s reading by touch. This isn’t what Crowley expected; this is a hundred times more intimate; this is a hundred times more perfect than anything he’d ever let himself imagine; a hundred times more terrifying.

“Open your eyes, dear.”

At first, he doesn’t want to. That fear of being so thoroughly seen at his barest, rawest. The fear of seeing love in Aziraphale’s eyes and not believing it. But then he does, and when he sees love in Aziraphale’s eyes, he believes in it instantly.

It makes him smile. A more genuine smile than any he’s ever smiled.

Aziraphale beams back.

And with an upward flourish of Aziraphale’s hand, Crowley finds himself on the bed. Toga miraculously gone. Back against the sheets and Aziraphale leaning beside him, above him, looking down and still running his fingers over his jaw; across his lips; down his neck. Tickling, feather-light movements that make Crowley’s eyes fall closed again in bliss.

“I’ve noticed you touch yourself like this,” Aziraphale remarks gently. “Stroking your neck. Sometimes your bottom lip.”

Crowley frowns to himself. He’s caught himself doing it once or twice, but he hadn’t realised it was regularly enough in Aziraphale’s presence for him to notice. In fact, now he considers it, he’s only ever caught himself doing it when he’s with Aziraphale. Or thinking about Aziraphale. Watching Aziraphale eat. Or-

“Ah,” he responds, mostly to himself and his own train of thought.

I’ve been pretty obvious, then, he thinks. A pining, touch-starved idiot.

And he feels Aziraphale’s hand trace further down his neck. Feels fingers being replaced by lips. Little sparks of kisses leaving shocks of heat on his skin. Oh God it’s perfect, the pain of it is perfect- Crowley arches his back, lets him kiss his chest. Lets Aziraphale’s fingers map out his body; the lines of his hip bones; of his ribs; the soft skin of his wrists; his thighs. Soft and burning.

It draws the most ridiculous noise out his mouth. It pulls the breath out of his lungs.

He opens his eyes again and sees Aziraphale pause to look down at him. Looking quietly, dreamily astounded.

“Out of everything, this is what you wanted to do,” Crowley says. He tries to sound sarcastic. He just sounds breathless.

“I want to love you.” The way he says it; so simply. “I wanted to share all the ways I’ve wanted to touch you. You deserve to be loved, Crowley.”

And that makes him squeeze his eyes shut again. Hide. Mentally fight with the wriggling in his chest.

“I’ve been greedy,” Aziraphale continues. Crowley feels him kissing his chest, his stomach- feels his hand run along the inside of his thighs- hears himself moan. “I’ve been keeping those thoughts to myself; thoughts of wanting to touch you. But I realised I can share them with you, now.”

Aziraphale’s fingers are so careful, so thoughtful in their touches. Teasing inside of him. Lips leaving hot marks on his stomach. His muscles shaking, shivering at the unfamiliar touch. His back arching, his hands gripping the bedsheets.

“Angel,” Crowley begs.

This was so, so unexpected. Not how his fantasies had played out at all. Not the hard and fast fuck against a wall, not the sensual, smooth flirtation that he’d hoped he’d achieve. Not giving Aziraphale every sex trick in the book to satisfy him. Something more tender and brutally honest, demanding absolutely no pretence. Something loving.

Aziraphale strokes a part of him that makes his toes curl and his mouth fall open silently; followed by a drawn-out, delayed, moan.

“You’re- uh- you’re far better at this than you’ve been giving yourself credit,” Crowley manages.

He opens his eyes and peers down to see Aziraphale look up from where he’s been kissing the freckles on his stomach, one by one. He beams a huge smile. A proud smile.

“Don’t let it go to your he-” Crowley starts, before Aziraphale finds that spot again and he’s rendered momentarily speechless. Head falling against the bed.

“You were saying?” is the saccharine sweet response.

Crowley growls. “Smug bastard.”

“I wouldn’t say smug, I’d- oh- oh my Lord! Crowley!”

The tone of alarm is enough to make Crowley’s head snap back up and almost pull a muscle in the process. Aziraphale is staring at Crowley’s stomach, fingers gently touching spots here and there.

“What? What’s wrong?”

“Crowley- I’ve burned you.”

Hot guilt floods his face. “Yeah, I know, don’t worry too much about it.”

The look of horror is so intense, it makes Crowley snort. He props himself on his elbows and measures Aziraphale, kneeling between his legs, both hands now resting on his stomach and gently stroking a trail of very prominent kiss marks on his skin. Pink lip shapes, stamped along his body.

“I’ve hurt you,” Aziraphale says aghast, expression contorted with distress. “Crowley, I am so sorry-”

“No,” Crowley interrupts. “No, no. It’s fine, I’d’ve said something if it was an issue.”

“It is an issue!” he cries, expression pained. “Look!”

“Yes, yes, I can see. But, listen, it’s not a problem. Just. Trust me, alright? I’m fine.”

“But- I’ve done this to you- Crowley, I’ve branded you-”

“Exactly.”

“I don’t-” The panic melts and is replaced by a slack-faced bafflement. “I’m sorry?”

Crowley smirks. The snake wriggles in his chest again. “I’m branded. I’m yours. Nothing I didn’t know already.”

“Are… Crowley… just to clarify,” Aziraphale says slowly. Eyes wide and disbelieving. “You… like that I’ve burned obscene kiss marks all over your body.”

“Yep.”

Well, that answer came out easily enough.

Aziraphale’s expression softens even further. So soft, all of him.

His fingers trace Crowley’s lips again.

“I was thinking,” he says quietly, somewhat reverently, “that your lips looked very pink.”

Crowley grins, all teeth and wickedness, and licks one of Aziraphale’s fingers. Takes it in his mouth and sucks. Aziraphale’s eyes widen a little in surprise. His lids grow heavy, and he watches Crowley suck on his finger in dreamy fascination. Crowley writhes happily; pulls away again, licks the tip of his finger.

“You can brand me all you like,” he says slowly, lowly. “It feels good, angel.”

“What does it feel like,” Aziraphale barely whispers.

He looks up in thought. Tilts his head from side to side. Then, “Tingles.”

“I see,” Aziraphale replies, unblinking. He leans down. Leans down to kiss him, and Crowley lifts his chin up to receive it, to drink it in.

His lips are warm. An angelic, fiery warmth.

“I love you,” Crowley says suddenly.

It’s strange- strange, that he never knows what to say, usually. Or rather, he knows what he wants to say, but his mouth rarely co-operates. Now, his mind and his mouth has figured out what to say before his more conscious judgement could stop it. He dares to open his eyes, to see Aziraphale smiling down at him. Eyebrows pinched in something close to pure relief; smile wobbling with the threat of tears.

“Angel?”

“It’s so wonderful to hear you say that,” Aziraphale breathes, breath tickling Crowley’s lips.

This really, truly isn’t just a lesson in hedonism, Crowley realises.

Crowley answers with another kiss- tongue burning, drinking the angel in like undiluted wine, burning his mouth and throat deliciously. Legs wrapping around him, hands pulling him close, splayed across his shoulder blades, nails digging in where wings should be. Legs pulling Aziraphale closer; hips bucking, back arching to bring them together. The taste of sweat on Aziraphale’s cheeks, where he lays messy, thoughtless kisses. The comforting weight of Aziraphale on top of him. The urge to sigh in absolute contentment.

“I want…”

Aziraphale hesitates. Exhales roughly and props his forehead against Crowley’s. Crowley measures his expression, his deep, harsh breaths. The candlelight dancing around them. In the corner of his eye, the white curtain billowing, drifting in the hot, summer breeze.

“Tell me, Aziraphale,” Crowley murmurs. “I want to know. I want to know what you want.”

“I want to be closer to you,” he replies. Something desperate. Frustrated by his own articulacy. “I want…”

Crowley kisses him gently. His hand winds between the two of them. Aziraphale gasps in shock, groans as Crowley wraps his hand around him, guides him inside of him; slowly; just a little; enough for them to share the same intake of breath; enough for them both to lie there shivering; tangled; chests heaving; foreheads still pressed together.

Heels on the small of Aziraphale’s back. They encourage him closer, deeper.

Crowley’s hand in feather-white hair, the other between his shoulder blades.

Aziraphale’s hand gripping the edge of the bed, the other hooking onto Crowley’s arm.

“Crowley,” he whispers. Barely a whisper, more like a breath, a breath that Crowley feels against his burned lips.

And with a little extra encouragement from Crowley’s bucking hips, Azirpahale moves. And the world slows down.

Crowley hasn’t slept with many people. Just a few. And they had been so very eh that he hadn’t seen much point in doing it again. It had always been fast and urgent and with someone he didn’t really know. And so, when he’d thought about sex with Aziraphale, he’d thought about it in the context of what he knew sex to be. A greedy, hungry thing that devoured and turned you animal. Sometimes, that appealed, sometimes it didn’t. Mostly, it was hard to imagine doing something like that with Aziraphale.

Somewhere deeper, more precious and hidden, Crowley had imagined- hoped- that sex with Aziraphale would be different. But he had never been brave enough to imagine it fully, not consciously. He never dreamed that it could be like this, because it would have hurt too much to wake up and find it could never be true.

But it is. It’s happening. It’s slow and deliberate and considerate. It’s deep sighs in synchronicity and lips grazing, too distracted for kisses. It’s one hand gripping his desperately, the other gently running up his thigh. It’s a feeling of oneness, of closeness, of two halves making a whole that Crowley’s never felt; a completeness and fulness that hurts with how sweet, how fleeting it is.

It’s the taste of sweat on Aziraphale’s skin. It’s how soft his hair is between his fingers. It’s remembering- through a haze of heat and oh God yeses and heavy breaths- remembering all the times he’s looked at Aziraphale and thought of touching him. In small ways, at first- swatting him with his wing in annoyance, poking him on the shoulder to get his attention, fingers brushing when wine cups are exchanged. It’s remembering what came before this moment and feeling it fill him, both of them.

It’s that slow, driving rhythm; Crowley choking on gasps when Aziraphale fucks him perfectly, in just the right spot. It’s the trickling aaahs and Crowleys that fall from Aziraphale’s distracted lips. It’s the way the summer heat makes their bodies slick.

And it’s all almost too much- almost. It hurts, how good it is. Now he’s kissing along his shoulder, at the crook of his neck and sucking hard.

“Yes,” Aziraphale breathes. Face pressed against Crowley’s neck.

“Want me to brand you, too.” He manages to make it sound light-hearted.

He only just manages. There’s still a fear- still- that this is just for now, that this will all be forgotten tomorrow. That they’ll resume their angel and demon roles tomorrow morning, forget about all the love confessions and love-making and lip-made marks that will fade away after a couple of days. He’s dreading that things will return to business as usual- not-quite friends- ‘remember that time we said we loved each other, Crowley? Wasn’t that silly’- Aziraphale afraid of doing wrong, Crowley afraid of abandonment, fear that all of this is just-

Aziraphale thrusts, the bed creaks, and he groans.

He forgets what he was worrying about.

“Crowley,” Aziraphale murmurs against his neck.

And he sits up, looks down at Crowley. White hair looking almost gold in the candle-light, stuck to his sweaty face. Eyes dark but bright.

“Crowley,” he says suddenly quite seriously, hands splayed on either side of his head. “Why on Earth haven’t we been doing this from the start?”

It makes him laugh. It’s a miracle.

“You always know just what to say,” he replies. It sounds mocking, but Crowley’s completely serious.

“I’m only sorry that I didn’t say something sooner,” Aziraphale says, pushing sweaty hair out of Crowley’s face. Crowley pulls him closer with his legs, his arms on his back. Hands running along the angel’s curves. Then Aziraphale adds, a little wickedly, “I vow never to keep my love secret again.”

“You’d better not.”

Aziraphale laughs. The brightest smile in the universe- Crowley’s made stars that aren’t as bright as that smile. He flips them over, so he’s straddling Aziraphale.

Now that he’s looking down at him, distance giving him a better view, he can see him for all his glory. Flushed and chest heaving and a hazy, drunken smile on his face. It’s hot enough in here that they’re sweating buckets, and he looks like he’s been at the baths, with how damp his hair is. There’s something in that that drives Crowley wild. And the look in his eyes somehow both mischievous and purely loving.

Those bashful side-glances. I can’t believe we’re doing this, but I love it, side-glances.

“Was this what you were expecting,” Crowley pants. He hadn’t realised he was breathless enough to pant. “Was this what you were expecting- when you invited me in- were you thinking about this-? At the symposium-?”

He rocks his hips. Aziraphale moans. It’s obscene. It’s unreal. It’s incredible.

“Not expected- not quite,” Aziraphale manages. Head pressed far back into the pillow. Eye contact just about maintained as Crowley rolls his hips. “Not- mm- not like this- but I have imagined…”

Angel,” Crowley smirks, biting his bottom lip. “How wicked of you.”

“Mm,” the angel confirms. He lays his hands on Crowley’s hips. “I wondered what it would be like… I have done for years though I’d never admitted it… I- hah- always had that voice in my head… telling me it was wrong-”

“Don’t listen to that voice,” he whispers, a hissing whisper. “Listen to what you want.”

“Says the snake of Eden,” Aziraphale notes with a small smile.

“Does this feel wrong,” Crowley asks quietly, wishing he hadn’t.

“No,” Aziraphale replies. Looking Crowley in the eyes. God knows how broken, how desperate he looks right now. “God, no.”

That’s all it takes, really. A good few thousand years of trust issues aren’t resolved in by a single roll in the hay, but they can be soothed, forgotten for a while. Crowley dives down to capture Aziraphale’s lips in a kiss. Messy and biting and all tongue, far too desperate and hungry, really, but Aziraphale’s response is positive. A surprised mmf! followed by a satisfied mm. His hands in Crowley’s hair, carding through curls and holding his face close, responding with no more sophistication than Crowley. And Crowley moves, rolls his hips and sets a faster pace than before, fast enough that he pulls away for breaths.

Breaths he doesn’t need, but it feels good to fill his lungs with air. Air that tastes of summer and Aziraphale. He likes to hear them both panting.

Every time he pulls away for air, Aziraphale gasps. Eyes sometimes scrunched closed, in so much bliss it looks like it hurts. Eyes sometimes open, fixed on Crowley with all his usual coyness gone.

It’s surreal to see Aziraphale like this. That typically put together, stiff upper lip angel. Now, his cheeks are flushed pink and he’s calling out his name like a prayer. The threads of his propriety unravelling.

Crowley sits up straighter- it offers a new that angle hits something inside him and he hiccups in surprise. And he feels Aziraphale’s hands on his hips, subconsciously encouraging his movements, or maybe just enjoying feeling how they rock beneath his grip. And he doesn’t realise that his eyes have fallen closed, doesn’t notice his mouth falling open and going dry with heavy breaths. He’s too overwhelmed by the feeling of pleasure rocketing through his body every time Aziraphale’s hips buck and meet his rhythm- a feeling so satisfying and yet not enough, a feeling he wants to chase and get lost in- a feeling that mixes with the happy, writhing buzz of love in his chest- a feeling that promises something better, dangles an ‘almost there’ sign in front of him- that makes him pant and whine obscenely-

“Oh, Crowley.”

His eyes are closed but he feels Aziraphale’s lips against his chest- he’s sat up to meet him- he feels his hands on his back- hears him saying his name in between moans- feels him leave burning kisses-

“Crowley- I’m- Crowley-”

“Yessss, yes,” he chokes.

He buries his hands in Aziraphale’s hair. Holds onto him for dear life.

He feels Aziraphale’s hand wrap around his cock and he rocks into his grip, and-

It’s blinding. It’s unlike any orgasm he’s ever felt or been told about or read about. Only an angel could cause an orgasm this blinding.

Head thrown back and crying out, holding onto Aziraphale, so light-headed he could float away. Breaths moving his body in waves, legs shaking. That tightness in his stomach that unties, unknots like it’s been there for thousands of years. Maybe it has.

When God created the big-bang, She’d gathered all the chaos and nothing-ness into a tight ball until it turned into something, until it turned into everything, where it built and build and broke and spilled into the universe, rippling and relaxing into all corners of space. Crowley had witnessed it and tried to emulate that beauty when he made his stars. He feels closer to that beauty now than he ever had making stars.

If Aziraphale were to know that that’s how it feels to him, he’d give that pleased, pursed smile and call Crowley dramatic. And whilst that is true, he is also honest.

The only thing that could possibly make this better is if Aziraphale were to miraculously manage to come at the same time. Which is, naturally, exactly what happens. Crowley is only just about lucid enough to witness it; his brows raised and mouth hanging open, silent, eyes closed; a look close to surprise as well as satisfaction; a look close to the one that he’s seen on Aziraphale’s face when he’s unfurled his wings, rolled his shoulders and felt free. A look of blissful, relieved release. It’s followed by a delayed moan.

That isn’t a noise he’s ever heard from Aziraphale before. That isn’t a delicious-food-moan. It’s far better.

Crowley grins to himself. Crowley: one. Honey cake: zero.

He strokes the hair out of Aziraphale’s face, though it doesn’t really need doing. Wipes away the sheen of sweat on his brow and kisses him there. Lingers and shivers with exhaustion. He feels Aziraphale sag a little beneath him, catching his breath.

“Oh my…” Aziraphale starts, but doesn’t finish.

Crowley grins again, lips against Aziraphale’s forehead. Aziraphale smacks him gently on the thigh, a wordless reprimand for being too smug.

With some effort, Crowley falls away and splays out on the bed. Aziraphale lies back beside him. Their breaths still heaving. Crowley licks his stinging lips. They’re probably going to swell. It’ll look ridiculous.

“Crowley.”

He rolls his head to the side, hair sticking to his face. He sees Aziraphale extend an arm, opening up for a hug, for a head on his chest. Crowley doesn’t hesitate. He needs it. They both know each other well enough, by now.

They lie together, legs tangled, for a while. The curtain billows, and the candles have almost burned out- the shadows dance erratically as the flames splutter.

Crowley takes a long, emphatic intake of breath. “Well. That was a religious experience.”

A pause. He can practically see Aziraphale cast his gaze to the Heavens, not quite an eye-roll. “Oh, yes. Well done.”

“Come on, that was funny.”

He feels Aziraphale shake his head to himself. Then he plants a kiss on top of Crowley’s head.

“Are you worried,” Crowley asks.

“What do you mean?”

“You know what I mean.”

Aziraphale sighs slowly. His fingers trace Crowley’s arm slowly. “A little. Yes, a little. They… they aren’t very sympathetic towards even the smallest of misdemeanours.”

“Misdemeanours,” Crowley grumbles.

“It’s hard to imagine what they’ll do once they find out…”

“That you fucked a demon,” he drawls.

“That I’m in love with a demon,” he corrects.

Crowley blinks at the shadows on the walls. He swallows.

“Ngjk,” he tries. Then, “I.”

Aziraphale pats him gently on the arm. Then he sighs again. “I know.”

“Do you regret it?”

“No,” he says, sounding like there’s a ‘but’ on it’s way. “Although, I don’t see how you could be concerned about that, Crowley. I was the one who. Um. Initiated this, after all. Though I can hardly believe it…”

“Horny angel,” Crowley mumbles.

He gets a swat for that.

“It’s hard not to wonder, Aziraphale,” Crowley continues, a little more resentfully. “You… go on about your duties to Heaven. The ineffable sodding-well plan. What’s a demon to think?”

Aziraphale audibly swallows. “Yes. I suppose I’ve given you some cause for concern.”

“No, no, it’s,” Crowley sighs. Hesitates. “Not your fault. It’s the rest of them. Scared you’ll regret me, like the rest of Heaven did.”

There’s a beat, and then Aziraphale pulls him close. Tightly, too tightly, a mountain lion choke-hold.

“Nguh,” Crowley manages in complaint.

“I don’t regret any of it for a second, and I’m not letting you go,” Aziraphale says, voice strained. Lips pressed to the top of his head. “And it’s very much Heaven’s loss. Right or wrong be damned.”

Aziraphale’s grip loosens. Crowley lets that sink in. And then he pulls away so he can look down at him. He raises his brows at him in pleasant surprise. Aziraphale looks flustered. It’s a moment suddenly very reminiscent of-

I gave it away-”

“You WHAT?”

“Angel,” he smiles. “How very… daring of you.”

“Yes, yes,” Aziraphale tuts. “Point is, I do love you. And I’ve told you now, so. No going back. Even if I am rather terrified of being burned by Hellfire…” A nervous side-glance. “No regrets.”

“No regrets,” Crowley repeats.

He lies back down beside Aziraphale. Plants little, thoughtless kisses on his chest.

“What did you think?” Crowley asks conversationally. Too casually.

“Of sex?”

“Mm. Are we to call you a fully converted hedonist, now? Should we crack open the wine and send a letter to Protagoras and the lads? Let them know the good news?”

“It was…” Aziraphale sensibly ignores Crowley’s babbling. Crowley tenses as he waits. “It wasn’t what I expected.”

Crowley considers this for a moment. “Go on.”

Aziraphale stretches a little. Their feet knock together, and they kick each other playfully for a second. “Well. I imagined it would be a lot like other human pleasures. Which, in a way it was. But it also wasn’t. Not at all. I mean, Crowley. That wasn’t like eating… you can share a good loaf of bread, but the pleasure is all your own, in the end. But that… that was truly shared. A large part of what made that so wonderful was seeing how much you were enjoying it, too.”

Crowley simply lies there. He has no idea what to say.

“It was immensely… something,” Aziraphale concludes.

“Good something, I’m guessing.”

“Oh, yes, good something.”

They sit in contemplative silence. This is not something that happens often. In fact, Crowley can’t remember the last time they just sat in each other’s presence like this, without bickering or ranting or joking or reminiscing. Or drinking.

“Bit like a conversation,” Crowley muses. “A sexy, sweaty conversation.”

Aziraphale’s chest shakes with a silent laugh. “Articulate as ever.”

“Mouth’s better at other things than talking.”

“Mm. Yes, you did promise snake tongues.”

“Yup.”

“Though, I draw the line at scented oils and secluded groves.”

He props his head on Azirpahale’s chest and smirks tauntingly. “Not much of an exhibitionist, eh? You might like it.”

“You know full well that I wouldn’t,” he retorts gently.

“’S’fine. Lots of ground to cover anyway. I haven’t kissed every inch of you yet, which is a sin. And I should know.”

“Well, we have all the time in the world.”

They do. They have all the wine in the world to try, all the music in the world to listen to, all the mornings that the universe has to offer until the end of time. They see the expanse of it before them and they walk it together, hand in hand, heart to heart. Two halves of one imperfect, ineffable whole.