The traditional phrase is "the patience of a saint," and not "the patience of an angel." Still, angels have no small measure of the virtue themselves, being, it is postulated, the paragon of every conceivable virtue. It is to this effect that the average angel will tolerate nearly anything that is put upon them.

To a point.

"Crowley," said Aziraphale, his voice fairly dripping with the aforementioned patience, "…Crowley."

"What?" Crowley cupped his hand over the receiver of the telephone and turned around, his face a picture of innocence. Well, it would have been, if not for the faint trace of steam rising from the receiver.

"Crowley, it's been over a month."

"Yes?"

"And the Powers Down Below still haven't contacted you."

"Yes?"

"So it's really safe to assume that any attempts on your part to get back in favor would be wasted, at this point."

"Yes?"

"So why, Crowley, why, for the love of everything holy, damned, or in between, are you tying up London's portable phone system again?"

The demon glanced at his watch and grinned. It had been over an hour. He replaced the steaming telephone gently on its cradle and cracked all his knuckles.

"…Habit."

Aziraphale ran one perfectly manicured hand through his perfectly manicured hair and gave what really could only be defined as a perfectly manicured sigh.

"I suppose I'll leave you to it, then, and go spend an hour helping little old ladies across the street, shall I?"

Crowley spread his hands and tried to keep his smile as human as possible.

"I'd like to think I can keep you better occupied than that, my dear." He tugged lightly at first the left, then the right cuff of his tailored shirt and gestured to the white suede couch. "With the world at our disposal, angel –" He let the title, or profession, roll out from between his thin lips as if it were a particularly spicy bit of curry – "You would prefer to occupy your time with random bloody acts of k–" He paused, grimacing, then continued. "Kindness than with culture, automobiles, and other…gentlemanly pursuits?"

"Gentlemanly pursuits?" Aziraphale snickered, a decidedly unangelic sound. "That, coming from you, tends to mean acts of mayhem and debauchery. Or possibly caviar. Either way, it's nothing I should be engaging in if I want a rat's chance of ever having my old job back."

"A rat's chance?" One dark eyebrow lifted.

"Where you're concerned, you old serpent, the rat and I have similar chances. And similar fates as well, most likely."

Crowley licked his lips. His tongue was longer than it should have been, and it wasn't quite forked.

"You should know, dear friend, that I would never dream of squashing you with a book. Particularly not with your unique and very valuable copy of the Treacle Bible, which I would shudder to even consider scraping clean with your reading glasses and putting back in your store-room without your even noticing."

Aziraphale snatched the glasses from his face and regarded them with the same horror he generally reserved for particularly corrupt politicians or people who place obscene telephone calls. After a moment, he realized that Crowley was hissing with laughter, his shoulders shaking vaguely with mirth.

"If I were capable of hate, I swear to you, Crowley," the angel said between his teeth, setting the wire-framed glasses lovingly on the mantel and wiping his palms across the thighs of his expensive white trousers.

Crowley took three long, gliding steps towards him and fetched up nose-to-nose with the pale, scowling creature.

"If you were capable of hate, Aziraphale, I am confident that it would be directed at the fellow you could not dissuade from buying your original Shkagaspeafe manuscript, and not at me." His expression softened and he carefully removed his sunglasses, folded them, and tossed them aside. "After all, who would tolerate your insufferable habits – the way you feed stray animals so they always come 'round again and poo on the porch, or the way you molt all over my antique rugs and spill cocoa on my suede couch – if not for me?"

His hand came up and the backs of his fingers brushed against Aziraphale's jaw. They both pretended not to hear the angel's sharp breath, and Crowley drew his thumb firmly over the side of Aziraphale's nose. The angel went nearly cross-eyed for a moment, then blinked as Crowley drew his hand away and showed him the smear of ink on the pad of his thumb.

"The fountain pen," he said unnecessarily, wiping the ink on the thigh of black trousers which were worth rather more than his liver on the black market.

Well, maybe not his liver; he did drink fairly heavily on occasion, and besides, nobody had ever really had the opportunity to open a demon up and see exactly what was going on in there, so his own inner workings were really a bit of a mystery even to him. He probably didn't have a liver. He was probably just a formless mass of gooey evil contained by mortal skin, or something to similar effect.

The two men – or, man-like beings, rather – were still standing close enough that one's exhale very nearly became the other's inhale, and Crowley took this opportunity to realize that the angel was very slightly taller than he was.

"A certain mess cannot be avoided when dealing with the finer…elements…in…um…" Aziraphale trailed off, seemingly mesmerized by the demon's golden, slit-pupiled eyes. Crowley blinked, slowly, and thought that perhaps he should be irritated by the fact that he had to tilt his head back very slightly to meet Aziraphale's eyes.

He had to tilt it somewhat more in order to brush his lips, slightly chapped and warmed, like the rest of his skin, by some internalized hellfire, against the angel's.

Aziraphale started, his long-lashed eyes flying open. He didn't exactly pull away from Crowley, but the way every muscle in his body tensed at once telegraphed his unease.

"Anthony J. Crowley," the angel murmured in half-hearted protest, "I really must object. This is utterly indecorous." The feeling of his lips moving against Crowley's as he spoke nearly quelled the protest before it left his mouth.

It wasn't that he was innocent. Quite the contrary; one of the favorite off-duty pastimes of the Legions of Justice was people-watching, and darkness and locked doors were no barrier to angelic vision. He'd seen things that would drop the jaw of the most hardened aficionado and make the bravest bedroom adventurer wince and try to protect any exposed orifice.

And it wasn't that he was ill-equipped. Formed to be incognito amongst mortals, he had tried to account for any potential situation, including but not limited to wrestling matches, airport security, and nude beaches. Just in case.

But Crowley was Temptation, practically incarnate, and as his polar opposite, Aziraphale had no choice but to be Resistance. No matter how much the equipment in question, though long unused, seemed to be taking an interest in the sudden proximity. His hands curled loosely into fists.

Crowley was fixing him with an expectant amber stare as if waiting for him to make the next move. When the angel only blinked several times and dropped his gaze to the single opened button of Crowley's collar, the demon, being nothing if not opportunistic, took it as permission and wound his fingers in the white-blond hair at the nape of Aziraphale's neck before pulling his head roughly forward into a kiss.

Aziraphale made a small noise of surprise that went entirely unheeded against Crowley's mouth and his hands came up to brace against the front of Crowley's jacket. He almost pushed the demon away, but strong fingers tightened in his hair and a sudden inhale parted his lips under the demon's. Permission aside, Crowley chose to take this as an invitation and slid his tongue lightly over Aziraphale's lower lip.

At the brush of unexpected warmth, Aziraphale managed to break away from the unexpected oral juncture and look Crowley full in the eyes.

A slow breath.

An exhale that was almost shaky.

A deliberate moral sidestep.

"Let me tempt you," Crowley tried to say.

He got as far as "Let me t–" before Aziraphale's mouth covered his own. The rest of the words became a grunt, which became a moan as cool hands slid up his back, the angel's lips opened to him, and all of heaven was his.