A/N: Wow. This fic, which was intended to be maybe five pages at most, somehow managed to span across thirteen pages—including endnotes—and will probably have sidefics. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Warnings: Um. Slash. And…um…violence. And…blasphemy. Oh, and some angst. I think. A few moments of OOC Crowley.

Disclaimer: …I'm not that much of a genius, you know.

Dedication(s): To Nell, for giving me a certain idea that I used at the end. Also to Jessi, for giving me the name of my angel and to Joe (who probably won't read this) for giving me a link to Dumah's name and bio-type thing. And finally, to cinammonblood (lj name), for taking the time to research things that I could never be bothered to look up myself. I love you all. Probably a lot more than I should, but never mind that. …Oh, and to Daegaer, because Daegaer ish teh bestest writer evar, and Daegaer likes me ficcies.

Summary: God works in mysterious ways—a fact that Crowley is about to realize all too quickly. Not that he's complaining. CA naturally.

The End of the Beginning

Crowley scowled into the inky black sky, purposefully ignoring the various signs of destruction that covered the landscape around him. Pale fingers gently caressed the book that lay on the ground beside his seated form, while his other hand held a bottle of wine that he occasionally brought up to his lips. The demon appeared to be deep in thought. But the truth of the matter was that he was very carefully doing anything but thinking. He hadn't been very fond of the activity once the Apocalypse had really happened—it was simply depressing. His mind always landed on one or more of three specific subjects: the War, the things he used to do when Earth had been full of life, and Aziraphale. Usually, it was a mix of the last two.

It was thinking about Aziraphale that had led him to his current deplorable state. He had been sent, alone, to scout the area for any angels that might have been foolish enough to wander around on their own. He wasn't fooled. Nobody from Below actually cared if the angels were around; the leaders of the Legions of Hell were just trying to get him killed—or at least out of the War. He wasn't one of them anymore. And, this being their last chance and their desperation only rising since nothing else they had tried could get him killed, they had demanded he bring an angel back with him—alive or dead didn't particularly matter—or else.

Crowley had absolutely no intention of going back. Well, at least not of actively trying to. Maybe if an angel stumbled upon him and wouldn't leave him alone, he would do as he had been told…. But he wasn't really in the mood to fight. What he really wanted to do was something the he was fairly certain he would never be able to do again: get comfortably drunk with Aziraphale.

Crowley's scowl deepened. He hated the Apocalypse.

Thankfully enough, his thoughts were cut off when he suddenly heard voices. He sat up as straight as he could, listened intently for any sign of the direction said voices were coming from and tried to decide whether or not they were getting closer. It took him a few moments to realize that the voices were coming from his right and were almost certainly angels. After a few moments' thought, he decided that, if Aziraphale wasn't with whoever was coming, the very first being that stepped foot on the ruble surrounding him was going to have one pissed off demon with nothing to lose very determined to torture them to the brink of insanity. Or kill them, whichever occurred first. Personally, he was betting on the latter.

He considered hiding from the beings coming for a few seconds before deciding that he really couldn't be bothered to. What was the point, anyway? If they were demons, they would have no trouble finding him; if they were angels, the entire group was likely to automatically start smiting as soon as he jumped out at them. Either way, he was probably going to end up dead. Besides, he was too drunk already to stand up without making noise, let alone to ensconce himself into a suitable hiding spot—and he really didn't feel like sobering up, either.

Not quite realizing what he was doing, Crowley randomly began humming to himself. After a few times of repeating the same lines, a grin spread itself across his face and he began singing aloud. He could just see the look that would have been on the angel's face if he'd been there. Aziraphale would have a pleasantly startled look on his face, lips quirked in a sad smile…because he knew Crowley better than anyone else ever had. Crowley rarely ever sang, not because he was bad at it—he had been an angel at one point, and Falling certainly hadn't damaged his voice (not counting the hiss, of course)—but because he was rarely ever feeling bad enough to do it. The demon only sang as a last resort to try and cheer himself up—not that it ever worked. Still, he wasn't going to stop trying.

"What are you doing here, demon?" an angry-sounding voice snarled, interrupting Crowley in the middle of a word. "And you're drinking? Get out of here!"

Said demon sobered up immediately and carefully se his bottle to the side. Bloody self-righteous angels, he thought sourly to himself as he tensed in preparation of an attack. He may not have been particularly interested in fighting at that moment, but he certainly wasn't going to let anyone kill him.

"Did you hear me?" the unknown angel continued. "You have no right to be here! Leave!"

Crowley bristled visibly and growled deep in his throat. His hand stopped its exploration of the book and instead gripped the hilt of his nearby sword. One more word or one more step forward, and whoever it was was dead. He had far more right be here than anyone else…besides Aziraphale, of course.

"Are you stupid, demon? Or just scared?"

No, Crowley wasn't stupid. And he definitely wasn't afraid of the prideful whelp that was currently snarling at him. Why would he be? But angels, like most humans, tended to underestimate their enemies—especially the ones they looked down upon—and the only reason most of them could think of that a demon wouldn't respond to them was from fear. This one was going to learn its lesson very soon, though.

Quick as a flash, Crowley leapt from his seat on the ground, blade swinging at his foe. Startled, the angel gasped and jumped back, only to trip over a pile of debris and fall ungracefully on his back, crushing a wing under his weight. Crowley, demon that he was, grinned cruelly at the terror in the wide blue eyes below him. Revenge is sweet, he thought gleefully.

But just when he was about to make a clean slice through the angel's neck, he found himself bowled over by something he could only describe as a large white blur. He was flat on his back, sword flung aside from the shock of being so suddenly attacked, and fire was heading straight for his face. Nearly panicking, he grabbed hold of the wrist connected to the hand that was holding the weapon and pushed with all his strength. The arm stopped, but didn't move back any. He and his opponent, whoever it was, were equally matched—in strength, at least.

"Do you need any help, Aziraphale?" a shaky voice called.

Crowley blinked.

"A little would be nice," the voice returned from above him. Crowley would have whooped for joy if he hadn't been worried that his old drinking buddy was going to do something decidedly unpleasant to him.

Desperately summoning up a bit more strength, he yanked the arm to the side and rolled himself and the angel over so that he was on top.

"Aziraphale, it'ssss me!" he hissed excitedly just before he was grabbed from behind and hoisted to his feet. Seconds later, a fist slammed into his stomach. Crowley saw stars.

"How dare you act as if you know him?" the previously grounded angel growled. "He certainly wouldn't stoop to consorting with the likes of you, demon!"

"Shows how much you know," Crowley sneered, yellow eyes flashing angrily.

It was the wrong thing to say. The young angel shoved him backwards hard enough that he fell right over, though he managed to land on his butt rather than his back. Why isn't Aziraphale stopping him? Crowley managed to wonder dazedly, barely noticing the blade pointed at his throat. He didn't want to admit it, but he felt hurt at Aziraphale's apparent refusal to acknowledge his existence.

A moment later, Aziraphale stepped into view. His right hand was once again holding his fiery sword while the other rubbed at his obviously aching wrist. Crowley winced in sympathy of the pain. He hadn't wanted to hurt Aziraphale, but he'd really had no other choice. The wince then quickly turned into a glare as he noticed the angel holding the sword to his throat had grinned, obviously thinking that Crowley was scared. The sword was pushed against his throat in reply, but he ignored it. His eyes were trained on Aziraphale.

"…Crowley?" Aziraphale eventually asked, sounding as if he couldn't quite believe his eyes.

"The one and only!" Crowley grinned, giving the angel a slight wave. "Think you could get this angel of yours not to kill me?"

"Sarelil, let him go," Aziraphale said almost immediately.

"But he's a demon!" Sarelil exclaimed, turning to stare at the other angel.

"I know that," Aziraphale responded testily, in a voice that had often gotten Crowley to flee the bookshop for fear of being subjected to one of the Infamous Bibles. "I want to talk to him."

Sarelil scowled, but didn't appear as if he was willing to disobey Aziraphale. Crowley had to wonder just how much power his old friend had been given for this Apocalypse. It didn't seem likely that the angel would have been put into any position of authority, what with him having had such a large part in stopping the original Apocalypse and lying to the Voice. Maybe Heaven was desperate—and if that was the case, he should just kill an angel and run back to Hell.

He might have done it, too, if one of his possible victims hadn't been Aziraphale.

What are you doing here?" Aziraphale asked him curiously, offering a hand to help him up.

"They sent me out prowling for angels." The demon grinned wickedly at Sarelil.

"Alone?"

"Well, after that whole spectacle of Almostageddon, they probably decided I wasn't very trustworthy anymore." Crowley shrugged casually, went over to his bottle of wine, and sat right back down. "Reckon they're just waiting for an angel to off me before they throw a little party."

"Throw a little party?" Aziraphale squeaked.

"It's Hell, angel," Crowley pointed out caustically. His voice softened a little, however, when he noticed the sulky glare on the other's face. "Look, I disobeyed Hell, lost the Antichrist, befriended an angel, and then tried to fight Satan himself. Kinda makes my side look bad, you know? Guess they figure that getting rid of me would make them appear a bit less incompetent, and the party would boost morale. I would just be the one little demon who wanted to repent and didn't quite get around to figuring out how to do it."

Aziraphale thought on that for an agonizing minute, decided the demon was right, and focused stubbornly on the most important thing:

"Befriended an angel?" he repeated with a bit of a grin that may have been a smirk.

Crowley froze with the bottle halfway to his lips. "That's what they accused me of, at any rate," he admitted gruffly before he allowed the wine to complete its journey.

"Right in one, I should think." Aziraphale's grin turned rather smug. "And don't drink out of the bottle, dear," he continued disapprovingly. "I might like to have a bit myself, you know."
Crowley nearly spit out his drink. Aziraphale, partake in a spot of gluttony without even the slightest bit of tempting? Well, forget the world ending (which it was). The entire universe was at stake now! It would have been a sobering thought, had he still been drunk.

"Why, angel, I'm proud of you!" Crowley fairly purred, ignoring Aziraphale's glare with practiced ease.(1) "Pull up a bit of rubble, won't you?" He patted the ground with an inviting grin and Aziraphale, glare diminishing slightly, dropped gracefully beside him. He took the glass of wine Crowley offered him with a nod of thanks and began sipping primly from it.

They sat in companionable silence for a few minutes, the other angel all but forgotten.(2) The silence was broken, however, when Crowley sighed and shifted uncomfortably.

"I…missed this," he muttered under his breath, half hoping Aziraphale wouldn't hear him. Admitting his emotions just wasn't something he did. He chanced a look from the corner of his eye, noted the look of pleased surprise on the angel's face, and decided to continue with his thought before he lost the nerve. "Drinking with you and all. Can't trust anyone from Below enough to get pissed with them. Kill you as soon as you lost your coherency, them. And you wouldn't be able to tell which one was the substantial one you needed to dodge, either." He paused thoughtfully, decided he was sober enough to stop rambling, but drunk enough to dislike holding himself up, and slumped over to lean comfortably against Aziraphale's side. He pretended not to notice when the angel stiffened under him in surprise.

A few moments of silence passed before a tentative arm wrapped itself around Crowley's waist and pulled the demon tightly against a warm body. "I missed you too, Crowley," Aziraphale returned softly and placed a fond kiss on his friend's hair. Crowley shivered a little and sighed again. "You were right, of course. Heaven is boring, and most of the other angels are self-righteous…er…jerks."

"You were never like that," Crowley assured him. "Even back in the Garden you were different. The angels at the other Gates all tried to impale me on their bloody swords. 'Cept you, of course. You just sort of ignored me until Adam and Eve left."

"Well, you didn't try to talk to me until then," Aziraphale pointed out thoughtfully. "Er…did you?"

"Well, no." Crowley looked vaguely embarrassed. "You were the last one I hung around, you see, and the bastard at the Southern Gate had done a number on my tail beforehand…. I rather figured you might go into smiting mode if I tried to talk to you, and I wasn't about to push my luck while you still had your sword. It was a lot safer once you'd lost it."

"I wouldn't have hurt you."

"I didn't know that then."

When Crowley realized that silence had fallen again, he wanted to scream. This was in all likelihood the last time he'd ever be able to talk with Aziraphale, and he couldn't make himself say what he so desperately needed to say. And the worst of it was that he could tell Aziraphale knew something was bothering him but wasn't going to call him on it, as if he thought they had all of eternity left to enjoy each other's company. Which they didn't, of course. Crowley at least was fated to die soon—neither side was going to let him survive. Aziraphale wasn't exactly likely to make it through, either. With a soft growl, he threw a leg across the two the angel had spread out in front of him and settled himself comfortably in the other's lap, arms wrapped loosely around his neck. He noticed with amusement that the angel's hand had slid to a stop on his waist and admired the look of open-mouthed shock he was receiving. He leaned forward until his lips were beside Aziraphale's ear.

"I love you," he just barely managed to whisper, but his voice was so soft that he was sure his words weren't heard. He cleared his throat and licked his lips before trying again. "I love you." Louder this time, stronger. "And don't you dare say that it's not possible, because it bloody well is. It took me until this bloody Apocalypse to realize it, of course, because I never had to worry about being unable to see you whenever I damn well pleased before. And I just thought I'd tell you now because one of us is bound to die soon and I couldn't just die without making sure you knew first and—"

"Crowley, you're rambling," Aziraphale interrupted weakly. The voice was close. Too close. Crowley's eyes snapped open and he found himself staring bemusedly at Aziraphale's still shocked face. When had he closed his eyes, anyway? He certainly couldn't recall doing so. The angel stared back at him. "I…I don't know what to…say."

"Then shut up," Crowley ordered gently. "I don't expect anything from you, angel. I just needed to tell you. And I wanted to…I have to…" He clenched his eyes shut again and sent a heartfelt thanks to no one in particular that demons weren't capable of crying in their natural forms. "I'm sorry, angel," he whispered, and pressed his lips firmly to Aziraphale's before the angel could react. He could feel the body beneath his tense but paid it no mind—he was too busy concentrating on the feeling of kissing Aziraphale, no matter how chaste said kiss was. He clung tightly to the angel, determined not to let go until he was forced off.(3)

It took Aziraphale nearly a full minute to get over his shock, but when he did, the response was nothing like Crowley had expected. The demon had expected his friend to shove him off and jump to his feet, sword in hand, asking why Crowley was trying to tempt him then of all times. Then there would be a rant about friendship and what it meant to be a friend, followed by (if he was lucky), a swift death. If he wasn't lucky, Aziraphale would fly off and leave him for his co-workers to find.

But the angel didn't do that. No, he pressed back against Crowley's lips and rewrapped his arm around the demon's waist. He sat up straight and buried his other hand in Crowley's hair, pulling until the demon's body was flush against his own.

Crowley melted. There was little else he could do besides finally take the chance to taste Aziraphale. It was heaven—literally. The angel tasted of thing he could scarcely remember, of everything good and pure that had ever existed, and a little bit of wine. It was dizzying, and almost painful.

"Well, well, would you look at this?" a voice sneered suddenly from above the couple. Crowley and Aziraphale both froze, suddenly tense with horror. "Our little Crawly's gone and fallen in love!" Several other voices joined in with the teasing and started laughing.

Crowley jumped from his seat on the angel's lap, back on his feet in seconds. Aziraphale, still stunned, just sat on the ground and stared at him.

"D—Dumah," Crowley stammered uncertainly, staring at the owner of the voice. Right behind Aziraphale was a tall, light-haired demon holding a burning whip and grinning. Several other demons were scattered around him. "What…what're you…oh fuck."

"Well said, Crawly," the armed demon smirked, eyes narrowed in his amusement. "I believe that may have been just where the two of you were heading. What would your poor angel's bosses have to think about that, I wonder?" He placed a hand gently on top of Aziraphale's head and raked his fingers slowly through the curly blond hair.

The feeling of a demon besides Crowley touching him seemed to spur the paralyzed Aziraphale into movement. He jumped to his feet and spun around, pulling out his own fiery weapon and pointing it straight at Dumah. The demon was amused.

"Don't touch me!" Aziraphale snarled at him. "You have no right to, demon!"

"Demon, eh? Dumah grinned again. "You say that as if it's a bad thing, little angel."

"In your case, it is. Now leave, if you know what's good for you."

"If I know what's good for me? Do you have any idea who I am?"

"No." Aziraphale was, of course, telling the truth. "And I don't particularly care, either."

The grin turned cold. "Oh, but you should care, you see. I am Dumah, little one, a Prince of Hell with twelve thousand demons under my control—and they are all well versed in methods of torture. And these few you see around me are some of my best fighters."

"Congratulations," Aziraphale said sarcastically, acting as if Dumah's little speech had had no effect on him. But Crowley, with the benefit of having known the angel for well over six thousand years, could easily see the telltale signs of Aziraphale's nervousness, which hadn't disappeared when he had re-acquired his original form. Aziraphale was standing perfectly straight, every part of his body tensed. He knew he was as outclassed as Crowley was.

"What are you doing being an angel, anyway?" Dumah questioned out of the blue. "No angel can even grasp the notion of sarcasm, let alone put it to use themselves! My, but I do believe you're nearly Fallen yourself, aren't you?"

Crowley took a step forward and grabbed Aziraphale's arm (the one not holding the sword, that is. He wasn't stupid.). "Angel, we're going to die," he hissed panickedly. "I don't think thisss iss exactly the bessst time to go macho on me."

"Let go of my arm, dear," Aziraphale replied soothingly. "We're not going to die." Crowley stared at him, wondering when the angel had lost his mind. Even with the three of them, they were outclassed. "Sarelil's gone to get help, or haven't you noticed?"

Crowley hadn't noticed, of course, but he didn't think it prudent to tell the angel that. "We'll be dead before the angel even findssss help. I know you must be good, but nobody'sss good enough to take out sssix demonssss and a Princssse bessidesss."

Aziraphale pouted at him. "What, did you think I was only given this for decoration?"

"…Yes."

"…At least you're being honest. We'll talk about this later."

"Yeah, if later ever comes," Crowley snarled, but pulled out his own sword anyway. If Aziraphale was determined to die a fool, then he'd be da—he'd be ble—well, he'd be somethinged if he didn't go down with the angel.(4)

"Well, isn't this just touching!" Dumah laughed. "Crawly's love just knows no bounds. He'll fight alongside his angel, even if it means certain death!" He laughed again before waving his hand at his demons, who quickly surrounded the couple. Crowley immediately spun around so that he was back to back with the angel—he knew better than to trust his flying just then. "I'll be a sport and stay out of this, shall I? I don't think either of you are exactly fit to fight a Prince, after all." Then he added to his minions, "Don't kill the angel. I'll want to play with it afterwards."

Crowley bristled and snarled incoherently at the air in front of him. Behind him—with full view of Aziraphale—Dumah laughed again, obviously amused by Crowley's anger. The demon across from him grinned. Crowley was not amused.

The other demons were the first to attack—and they didn't hold back. All six of Dumah's lackeys jumped forward at once; Crowley was alarmed when only two went for him. He had never seen Aziraphale use a sword before, had no idea how efficient he was—wasn't even sure if the angel knew how to use one at all. He dodged and thrust and parried, keeping up the dance for survival even as he tried to maneuver himself so that he could actually get his friend in view.

He eventually managed to kill one of the demons, but that appeared to be a mistake—the other one was obviously a lot better at fighting by itself. Rather than having an easier time of it, he found himself on a desperate defense with just about no hope of making a comeback. In fact, one particularly harsh attack found him sprawled back on the ground, his foe's sword heading straight for him; the blade punctured Crowley's skin just before Aziraphale flew out of nowhere and barreled the demon over. Crowley had to bite back a scream as the sword ripped a rather painful wound across his stomach. He tasted blood—or something similar, at least.

He watched, wide-eyed, as Aziraphale managed to do a neat flip off the demon immediately after they hit the ground, spun right around and swung his own sword downwards. The demon raised its sword in the nick of time, expertly blocking Aziraphale's blow. The demon was almost immediately on its feet, swinging its sword back at the angel, who blocked the attack with seemingly no trouble. Seconds later, the demon—the last demon, Crowley noticed with a start—was undeniably dead.

"Now that was unexpected," a deep voice said as Dumah once again made his presence known. Aziraphale was immediately back at Crowley's side, sword at the ready. "I had no idea you were so good with that sword, little one, though I suppose I should have expected it. You're very high up in Heaven's army, aren't you?"

"Fairly so, yes," Aziraphale agreed mildly, though the frosty tone of his voice made his actual thoughts clear. "Or at least, rather higher than the majority of my fellow Principalities."(5)

"Oh, I can see that," Dumah grinned. "But I should hardly think you're up to my ability."

"Probably not," Aziraphale agreed politely.

"You don't seem particularly concerned about your impending death. Why is that?" Dumah's eyes were narrowed to slits in his suspicion.

"I have reinforcements," Aziraphale smiled. Just as his mouth closed, a gold-flamed body formed quite suddenly in front of him. Dumah took several terrified steps back, but before he could flee, a sword materialized itself into a fiery hand and the Metatron struck Prince Dumah down on the spot. Then he turned to glare fiercely at Aziraphale, who muttered an appropriate greeting to the Voice.

Crowley couldn't decide whether he wanted to cheer at Dumah's sudden death, or cringe at the sight of the highest-ranking angel in Heaven.

"Bring this demon of yours to us immediately, Aziraphale," Metatron ordered, giving Crowley a disgusted glare. "You may take the time to heal it so it does not die on the flight, but you will make no other stops. We will need to…discuss this little matter."

"Yes, Lord," Aziraphale replied in a small voice.

With one last disgusted, though rather curious, glare at Crowley, the Voice disappeared. Aziraphale turned around, frowning slightly, and snapped his fingers. Crowley's shirt (6) disappeared.

Well, Crowley thought, that was certainly an interesting idea to put into practice.(7)

Aziraphale knelt down by his side and placed his hands over the wound. Heat spread through Crowley's body and he let out a startled whimper when he felt as if his stomach was on fire. The angel made the appropriate soothing noises, but didn't stop his healing. It took nearly a minute for Crowley's wound to heal up—his demonic body was avidly fighting the holy power—and when it was over, he breathed in deeply in hopes of relieving the remaining pain.

"I'm sorry, dear," Aziraphale murmured, placing a soft kiss to Crowley's forehead. "I didn't know that would hurt you so much."

"It's fine," Crowley muttered. "It's all good in the end. Isn't it?"

"Of course it is. God will not let this end badly. Not this time."

Crowley glared at Aziraphale. "Is there something you're not telling me, angel?"

"You'll find out soon enough. Can you get up? We need to get going before the Metatron comes and starts in on us again."

Crowley groaned as he started to get up. His stomach was still hurting; he had a feeling that it was going to be hurting for a while. Stupid demonic body, he thought spitefully to himself. Can't even get healed without being pissed off. Would be nice to be an angel just about now. His mind blanked out immediately after that thought. A few long seconds passed. I did not just think that. Nope. No bloody way.

"Crowley, are you sure you're all right?" Aziraphale's concerned voice cut into his thoughts. "You look rather…ill, really. Bit odd of a look in this form."

"Mmm," Crowley agreed noncommittally. "Good. Fine. Never better. Let's get this over with before I drive myself mad. At this rate, I think that'll take all of about ten minutes."

"You're worried about being nutters now?" Aziraphale asked amusedly. "I'd think that thought would have come about the time you first kissed me."

"I was desperate and frustrated then, not nutters," Crowley grumbled.

"It all amounts to the same thing, really."

"Shut up," Crowley snarled. He gave Aziraphale a weird look when the angel actually giggled. "Angel, if we actually had been human, you'd have been the gayest gay man that ever existed."

"Unless, of course, you were female," Aziraphale pointed out innocently. "Then I'd be the gayest straight man that ever existed. …Well, second gayest, at any rate."(8)

"If anyone is the girl in this relationship, it's you."

"So, instead of being the gayest gay man, I would be the most feminine straight woman, and it wouldn't particularly matter."

There was a pregnant pause.

"Are you sure we're sober?" Crowley asked.

"…Well, we're coherent enough to be," Aziraphale said uncertainly. "I don't think you gave me enough time to get drunk before you pounced, at any rate. So I, at least, am almost perfectly sober. Whether or not you are…"

"I don't fight when I'm drunk," Crowley said stubbornly. "It's tantamount to suicide. I don't need to be any worse of a fighter than I already am."

"Maybe being drunk would help you," Aziraphale grinned, trying very hard not to look smug. As was usual when he tried not to look something, he failed miserably.

"Why didn't you tell me you could fight like that, anyway? You'd think that I'd actually know after all this time."

"We never did fight with weapons, as I recall," Aziraphale replied thoughtfully. "And it never really came up, did it? You never asked me; I never had reason to say… Anyway, we really must get going. If we keep talking, we may never leave."

"That was the idea," Crowley mumbled. Aziraphale glared at him. "Let's face it, angel. They're not going to be happy with us—or with me, at any rate. I'm as good as dead no matter where we go."

"I thought you were an optimist?"

"Yes, but a realistic optimist. I am a demon. I sat on your lap and forcefully kissed you. I'm the bad guy here. I'm doomed. The best I can hope for is not being tortured or sent back to Hell's forces."

"That's really a very depressing way to think of things. Cheer up, won't you? I won't let anything happen to you."

"You and your bloody heroics," Crowley sighed in exasperation. "Fine. If you want to get rid of me so badly, let's fly off. Lead the way, oh sadistic one."

"You're being ridiculous, dear," Aziraphale sighed back, rolling his eyes.

"Well one of us has to panic," Crowley returned stubbornly. "Now get moving. I sure as heaven don't know where we're going."

Shaking his head and giving Crowley a reassuring smile, Aziraphale spread his wings and took off. Crowley waited for a few moments to leave a decent bit of distance between them before spreading his own wings and following.

Crowley very much detested walking amidst a large group of angels. They all glared at him and looked at Aziraphale with such admiration that it was frankly sickening. Obviously, they were all under the illusion that Aziraphale had captured Crowley and was bringing him in as a sort of prisoner, which the forces of Heaven didn't currently have. And worst of all, Crowley had left his sword back at the bookshop's rubble. He couldn't even put his hand on it and look defensive. Looking helpless just didn't cut it.(9)

"Angel, this is insane!" he snarled, grabbing hold of Aziraphale's elbow and bringing them both to a complete stop. Several of the angels around them stepped forward as if to help their comrade, but Crowley ignored them. "Can't we just fly to wherever he's waiting for us?"

"They would think you were chasing me," Aziraphale replied, raising an eyebrow. "Do you want all of Heaven's forces after you for a little misunderstanding?" Crowley snarled at him. "Really, my dear. That wasn't necessary at all."

"They think I'm your prisoner or something. It's embarrassing."

"Would you prefer to be embarrassed or dead? I can't save you from all of them, you know."

Crowley snarled again but backed off, knowing Aziraphale was right. Aziraphale smiled at him, and then spun back around to continue walking. A few of the angels laughed at Crowley. He glowered over at them, took a few moments to memorize what they looked like, and followed Aziraphale.

Thankfully enough, the walk wasn't very long before they entered something that vaguely resembled a tent. Crowley wondered why the Metatron could possibly want such a human dwelling for a second—and then he noticed who exactly was in the mock tent.

"Eek," said Crowley as he stared at God, who appeared to be playing a very long game of some sort of solitaire. Aziraphale snickered. "You didn't tell me we were going to see Him!" Crowley squeaked.

"I didn't know," Aziraphale shrugged. "This is good, though. I was expecting Him to interfere at the last minute."

"Why didn't you tell me that?"

"I didn't want you to panic."

"Well I'm panicking no—eek!" Crowley jumped when he realized that God was quite suddenly standing right in front of him. The panic he had just been feeling, of course, stopped. He was paralyzed instead.

God placed a hand on either one of Crowley's shoulders and smiled. The remnants of Crowley's pain melted away.

"Welcome back, my child," God said. Crowley gaped at him. "You always were one of my favorites, you know."

"Er," said Crowley.

"Yes, Crowley, you were. You didn't think I'd lie to you, did you?"

"Meep," said Crowley.

"Good, good." God grinned and patted Crowley on the back. "Let's get this started then, shall we?"

"Erk?" Crowley asked Aziraphale as God went back to his seat.

"I told you everything would be fine, dear," Aziraphale murmured to Crowley, taking the demon by the arm and leading him over to the two other chairs that had suddenly appeared. "I've already discussed this with Him. All we need is for you to agree, and everything's all set."

God cleared his throat. "Might I speak now, Aziraphale?" he queried pointedly.

"Sorry, Lord," Aziraphale muttered.

"Crowley, you are going to be the proud father of a whole new generation of humanity," God said without preamble. Crowley blinked for the second time that day. "Nobody but myself and Lucifer are quire aware of this yet, but the mating of a demon and an angel will result in the birth of a human—or something similar to one, at any rate." Aziraphale looked very surprised to hear that. Apparently, God hadn't discussed everything with the angel. "You two will create the first few, and I'll have some other carefully chosen couples mate as well, so the humans can repopulate the Earth. You two will get Europe, of course."

"We have to repopulate an entire continent?" Crowley blurted out.

"I dare say it should be incredibly amusing."

"For you or for us?" Crowley asked.

God just smiled at him and continued his little speech. "I will, of course, end up being the head of the new Earth's major religion, but I hope my chosen will actually get it right this time. Honestly, I don't understand any of that nonsense about witchcraft and homosexuality. Absolutely nuts, my humans." He smiled fondly, thinking about the humans he was going to create this time.

"Um, Lord?" Aziraphale asked warily.

"So sorry, where was I?" Crowley and Aziraphale stared at Him. "Oh, yes. You two should tell your children all about me. Eventually, Earth will be much how it was before—only a bit more magical, and with a bit more wildlife. Any questions?"

"Will there be ducks?" Crowley asked. "And wine?"

"And books?" Aziraphale put in hopefully.

"And Bentleys? Can I have my Bentley back?"

"Yes, children. Didn't I just say it would be like it was before?"

"You said much like," Crowley pointed out. "You could have missed something or taken it out." Aziraphale nodded in agreement.

"Any intelligent questions?" God asked, rolling his eyes.

"Er…how many couples will there be, exactly?" Aziraphale asked.

God grinned.

"Forty-two," He said and waved his hand, making Crowley and Aziraphale disappear.

They reappeared nearly a second later in a rather lavishly decorated house that neither had ever been in before. After a moment of floating in mid-air, they both fell—Aziraphale yelped as he landed on a desk, and Crowley oofed when he ended up sprawled in a poofy chair.

"Ow," Aziraphale moaned, pulling out whatever he was sitting on. "That was pointy and hard. Ow again." Then his eyes widened as he caught site of the title of the book he was now holding.

"Oh no you don't!" Crowley growled, yanking the book out of his hands. "This is not the time for prophecy reading!"

Aziraphale whimpered. "Just one? The last one in the book? Please?"

Crowley glared at him.

"Please, Crowley? You can read it to me, if you like. And then I'll be quiet and we can do…er…what it is I know you want to do with me."

"All right," Crowley grinned and turned to the last page in the book. He scanned the short prophecy, grin widening, and put the book to the side. "I like that," he said.

"Crowley, what did it say?" Aziraphale demanded.

"An angel and a demon entwined on God's desk," Crowley snickered merrily, hopping up onto the desk and straddling Aziraphale. "Don't tell me that needs decoding, angel."

"It could be about somebody else!" Aziraphale argued, and was startled to find himself blushing. Apparently, God had given him and Crowley human bodies without him noticing.

"You don't want to prove Agnes wrong, do you?" Crowley pouted. "And you don't want to disappoint me, do you?"

"I was rather hoping for a bed, personally," Aziraphale muttered under his breath.

"If I didn't know any better, I'd think you'd been thinking about this beforehand."

"Well then, it's a good thing you don't know any better, isn't it?"

Crowley laughed. "Naughty, angel. Lust is a sin, you know."

"Not anymore, it isn't," Aziraphale grinned. "I'm perfectly safe around you now. The only thing I have to worry about is getting drunk too often."

"Don't worry, angel," Crowley murmured, moving his face closer to Aziraphale's. "We'll be much too busy with lust to bother with gluttony."

"Better than nothing, I suppose," Aziraphale shrugged, wrapping his arms around Crowley's neck and pulling the demon closer to him. "But we're going to use a bed next time, whether Agnes likes it or not."

"Anything for you, angel," Crowley purred, and snapped his fingers.

"Eep!" Aziraphale squeaked as their clothes disappeared. "Crowley!"

"You'll learn to love it," Crowley grinned and claimed Aziraphale's lips once again. The angel sighed into the kiss and clung tighter to his warm body.

"This was all rather anti-climatic," Crowley murmured once he finally ended the kiss. "I mean, there wasn't even much of a war, really. It's ending too…nicely."

"This isn't the end, dear," Aziraphale murmured back. "It's only the beginning—or the middle, more like. …Well, it's the beginning of something."

"This something had better last for the rest of eternity," Crowley growled. "Because God be damned, I'm never letting you go."

"Don't blasphemy," Aziraphale said. "It's still against the rules."

"Bugger the rules."

"If it makes you happy. I rather thought you were too busy with me, though."

"…Shut up, angel."

(1) Though he was admittedly rather out of practice, and it took him a few extra seconds to gather his wits about him and continue talking.

(2) For those interested, Sarelil was watching the pair with a sort of fascinated horror that paralyzed him completely. Said horror remained even after the events of that night. He was very lucky to be an angel (and a very well-behaved one, at that), because that meant he never slept and had dreams—or nightmares, for that matter.

(3) For anyone who remembers (and cares about) Sarelil, it was around the time Crowley was making said decision that he regained a little of his previous ability to move. That is to say, his legs gave out from under him, and he repeatedly muttered "This isn't happening." He never got the chance to make himself believe that.

(4) And besides, it got Aziraphale to smile at him again. He couldn't stand it when the angel pouted at him. It made Crowley want to hug him.

(5) Aziraphale wasn't exactly a Principality anymore, if one wanted to be technical. Once the Apocalypse (finally) came and it was realized that he was an excellent swordsman—far better than most of the other angels, in fact—he was immediately moved to a higher rank. In fact, he was now a Power, and a great many of the angels who had remained Principalities were quite wary of him.

(6) It fit over his wings easily because that's what Crowley expected it to do. It had never occurred to him that shirts were practically incapable of fitting over them.

(7) Then he promptly buried his mind under several planets' worth of dirt and determinedly told himself that doing what he was thinking about doing to Aziraphale was a Very Bad Idea.

(8) The title of gayest straight man goes to the brother of the author, and he really needs to learn how to laugh instead of giggle. Apologies for the rather inane endnote.

(9) Er. Pun not intended.

A/N: And it ends—for now. Yes, my friends, I have sidefics. This has become an epic. It is scary. Anyway, a few extra notes.

You may have noticed that I refer to Aziraphale, Crowley, and Dumah (and Sarelil and Metatron, I think) using masculine pronouns, whereas the six nameless demons are referred to using neutral pronouns. This is because I, personally, personify the ones with names as all being male when (or if, I should say) in human form, and don't care about the not-genders of the remaining demons.

There will be at least one sidefic to this. There might be three. Right now, all I have for sure is a conversation between Aziraphale and God—the conversation with God will go into a few extra things, like just how God ended the War, and why I used Dumah, of all demons…and the relations between Aziraphale and the Metatron. There may also be Crowley's revenge on the angels that laughed at him, and Crowley's and Aziraphale's reactions to getting their precious belongings back.

The book Crowley was…er…petting, for lack of a better term, at the beginning of the fic was Agnes' book, in case you didn't figure it out. It somehow managed to survive the destruction of Earth (divineintervention;Godisavoyeuryouknow), and wasn't found until Crowley got to it.

Yes. Forty-two couples. If you don't get that, go read Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy already!

In case anyone was wondering, Crowley was hissing so much because he panicking. I know he didn't hiss nearly that much in the book, but work with me here. You don't think when you're panicking, do you?

I believe that's it, but if I think of anything else, I'll put it here later.