No windmills, Crowley had told them. And that was all Crowley had told them. When Hell gave orders, it was best not to get fussy, but there was still such a thing as demonic pride, and Crowley'd had his fair share. Or her fair share, as happened to be the case.
For the vast majority of his time on earth, Crowley had been a he. It wasn't a matter of personal preference really, it was just that he'd been a male serpent and never saw fit to tweak things. It wasn't until he he'd been assigned to upstart the Geisha tradition that he'd found himself with a different set of accessories. Since demons inhabit bodies rather than live in them, it wasn't all that traumatic to fall asleep with one set of bits and wake up with a different edition, but it was odd. Remarkably so.
Still, Crowley made the best of it. If he—she was going to be just that, then she was going to she-it-up with the best of them. Which lead to her stance on windmills.
It wasn't all windmills that she had a problem with, just the one that was electrified and full of prostitutes. It was tasteless and, more importantly, sold its alcohol at an outrageous mark-up, even for France. Instead, per her request, Crowley had been assigned to a smaller, though no less tawdry establishment, in which the men were men, the women were women, and the girls were boys—all for the right price, of course. Conveniently enough—and Crowley could never be sure if this was intentional—it catered primarily to English gentlemen on holiday looking to have a jolly good time on the continent without the bother of wives or basic civility.
"Oy! Darling! Lift 'yer skirt for a fiver, eh?" shouted a gentleman in an ostentatious top hat. The fellow's pet monkey sat in his lap making obscene gestures. Crowley wondered briefly whether that was what He'd had in mind when He'd allowed for the proliferation of the opposable thumb.
"Sorry, good sir. I'm more of a… an executive trollop," Crowley called back politely. The man made a gesture of his own, but was quickly distracted by a passing blonde with endowments to which the ripest of melons paled in comparison.
"If you only knew," Crowley couldn't help muttering under her breath. She found there was very little need to get her… hands dirty when all she had to do was incite a bit of lust here, a touch of greed there and watch the mayhem unfurl. One of her more entertaining assignments, really, if you could get past all the unpleasant jiggling.
Crowley hiked up her fishnets and did an awkward sort of corset-wiggle to make sure everything was still in place. Every bit of her was, of course, exquisite, in an exaggerated way. From her ample bosom to her wisp of a waist to her well-formed backside, you could say as much for Hell: They knew how to do whore right.
"Miss, do you have the time?"
"The time for what?" Crowley asked, whirling around in a flurry of black lace and equally black hair. She should have known, should have recognized the stiff Englishness of the voice, the faint smell of dust and feathers that preceded it.
"A drink, perhaps?" replied Aziraphale, offering her a snifter of that horrific green stuff for which the French were going mad—literally, in several cases.
"Always," Crowley said, accepting the glass and instantly transforming it into a fine merlot. "So, do you, ah, come… here often?" Crowley asked, raising one delicately arched eyebrow scandalously.
"Tasteless as usual. Form follows function, I suppose," Aziraphale said, finishing his drink with a flourish.
"It's rude to insult a lady. I should hate to have to inform the Master of Ceremonies that I'm not being treated properly."
"Master of Ceremonies? Is that the bearded chap with the great big stick?"
"It's not that big," Crowley replied.
"You would know better than I, I suppose."
Crowley considered for a moment how likely Aziraphale was to smite her if she made a comparison just then, albeit a favourable one.
"I've been to the colonies, did I tell you?" Aziraphale said suddenly, interrupting her thoughts.
"What? The colonies? What on earth were you doing there?"
"Quelling a rift that would have destroyed a country. Easing hostilities among fellow countrymen. Freeing a people. You know, that sort of thing," Aziraphale said, refilling his glass with a glance. He said all this with the dull look of someone who has seen far too much, and he wouldn't meet Crowley's eye. He looked younger than the last time Crowley had seen him—and when had that been exactly? Thirty years ago? Fifty?
"Well, someone's been busy," Crowley said.
"Not as busy as you've been, it seems," said Aziraphale, taking a delicate sip of his drink.
"Hmph," Crowley grunted in agreement. "Wilde died, you know," he said, recalling the angel's inexplicable fondness for the old dandy.
Aziraphale's brow creased, only for a moment. "Yes. Yes, I saw him shortly afterwards."
"Really? I thought for certain he was one of ours. Are you sure it was him?"
Aziraphale nodded. "He was a beautiful soul, if a bit... flash."
Crowley snorted. "Now, there's a word for 'flaming homosexual' I've never heard."
The semantics of Heaven, the words to avoid and all the blessed politeness, was something for which Crowley had little tolerance. It was as though they felt it necessary to justify their own mercy, but if you couldn't call a poufter a poufter then what was the point in having words in the first place?
"Hey," Crowley said suddenly, "why were you Up There in the first place? You weren't just playing at welcoming committee, were you?"
"I wasn't there to welcome him. The whole encounter was by accident—though, admittedly, it's so difficult to tell what's accidental and what's fate, what with an infinite number of busy-bodies wandering around imposing their good will on anything with a soul," Aziraphale said. Crowley bit her tongue to avoid mentioning a certain Principality with a history of imposing good will her.
"And what did the late queen have to say?" Crowley asked, as curious as she was kidding. She'd never understood what the angel found so compelling about the human, but it had long been a point of fascination for Crowley.
"He just… Helped clarify a few things for me. Quite wise, that one, for a human."
Aziraphale stared into his drink, then looked at Crowley as though he were seeing her for the first time.
"Really, though, isn't the corset a bit much?"
"You should see the garters," Crowley replied smugly.
At this, Aziraphale raised an eyebrow. "Perhaps I should," he said with uncharacteristic nonchalance.
Aziraphale was many things, but cool and collected were not among them, and Crowley was just beginning to worry about what the angel was up to when the deity in question took hold of her wrist and began tugging her through the thick, pulsing crowd.
"Umm, where are we…" Crowley attempted, but the music and the chatter drowned her out.
They reached the foot of the stairs in a matter of seconds. A couple—she a redheaded beauty and he a rather pock-marked gent of roughly sixty—slipped past them and upwards towards the establishment's more private rooms.
Aziraphale glanced back at Crowley with a strange, desperate look in his eye. Something about it told the demon that there would be a time for exposition, but that now was not that time. Crowley didn't say a word, she just started up the stairs, calm as you please, and did not look back to make sure Aziraphale was with her. When you had an arse like the one Crowley was currently sporting, people tended to follow without much encouragement.
On the third floor, at the end of the hall, Crowley turned around, unwilling to enter the room behind her without some indication that she was on the right track, nevermind an explanation as to just what in creation was happening and why it had to happen while she didn't have the preferred equipment to enjoy it.
Aziraphale was staring at her, his face tense and inscrutable, his fingers twitching at his sides.
"You look so…" he trailed off, seemingly at a loss for words.
"What? Bloody what? Undignified? Well, need I remind you that undignified is in the job—"
"Slutty," Aziraphale finished primly, one of his hands trailing down Crowley's side, fluttering over the plain of her ribcage, the swell of her hip.
Crowley felt herself tense then relax helplessly into the touch. This was something she understood. Lust, even divine lust, was easy enough to fathom. In fact, she'd fathomed it with Aziraphale a few times over the course of human history, and it had never been particularly harmful to anyone involved, or at least not in any way that Crowley was willing to acknowledge.
"Do I sense a hint of reprimand?" she asked, trying to sound coy.
"Hmm? Oh, yes. Yes, that," Aziraphale muttered distractedly. His hand, the one that had been on Crowley's hip, found its way to her backside, and appeared to be burrowing, of all things, through the eighteen layers of black lace that she was attempting to pass off as a skirt.
"It wouldn't befit a deity of your stature to be…" Crowley lost her train of thought for a moment at the feel of Aziraphale's fingers skating beneath the edge of her corset, "to be anything less than horrified."
When exactly had Aziraphale got so close? Crowley could feel the angel's breath on her cheek, her neck, her ear. The damp warmth of it made Crowley tremble, and without thinking, she reached out to clutch the lapel of Aziraphale's dandyish frockcoat with long, pale fingers.
"Of course, my dear," Aziraphale whispered, practically into Crowley's skin.
In retrospect, Crowley would never be quite sure of the chronology of the following moments. In quick secession, Crowley found she was pressed against the rotting door with Aziraphale's hands clutching her arse covetously, then sprawled on the floor of the chamber behind the door—which was, by that point, not so much a door as a large piece of door-shaped wood hanging precariously from an equally large, door-shaped hole. At some point between the pressing and the sprawling, it seemed that Aziraphale's hand had found its way beneath Crowley's skirt, and was currently becoming acquainted with areas of Crowley's anatomy with which even Crowley was not entirely familiar.
"Not even a kiss and you're halfway—oh—all the way into my knickers? Angel, I'm appalled."
"I'm sorry, I thought kissing was a faux pas with your lot."
Crowley couldn't help but chuckle, though the sound came out breathier than she'd intended.
"But aren't gentlemen such as yourself supposed to be terribly romantic and—" Aziraphale's fingers did something very interesting, and Crowley felt that an appreciative bite on the neck was in order, "—sentimental?"
"I'm an angel. I can adapt," Aziraphale said, low and rough, like he'd been gargling with gravel, which, taking into account the hygienic proclivities of the day, was not far from the truth.
In one almost fluid motion, Aziraphale had them both off the ground, with a hand beneath each of Crowley's fishnetted thighs, carrying her to the bed a few steps away. Crowley barely had time to register that she was being carried, of all the demeaning modes of transport, before she felt herself land on the bed, arse-first, with a bounce.
"Eager?" she asked seductively. Seduction, fortunately, was roughly the same no matter what parts you were working with, and it also happened to be Crowley's specialty.
Aziraphale didn't reply, he just crawled onto the bed, and Crowley was shocked to note how quickly this body of hers spread its legs, wantonly. For all her whoring, Crowley had done very little actual, literal whoring, having found that inspiring sin in a brothel didn't require much. Still, her legs knew that they wanted to be wrapped around Aziraphale's waist, and her fingers knew they should be tangled in his hair.
The touch of Aziraphale's hand as it slid down Crowley's spine undid her corset, and with some manoeuvring, it fell to the floor. Crowley's full, round breasts—overdone and exaggerated as the rest of her—spilled into Aziraphale's waiting palms. Crowley felt a moan rise in her throat as Aziraphale massaged and weighed her flesh with tremendous intensity. He looked like a man possessed, all ironic connotations aside, with a heat-darkened stare and his bottom lip pulled between his teeth. It was almost frightening, this strange, intense Aziraphale, and Crowley wondered if it was some feminine whim that made her want to make the angel stop and explain what in the name of the green fairy was going on, and whether he planned to throw a handful of francs on the nightstand when he was done. Not that Crowley would have cared, of course.
Still, there was something to be said for the way Aziraphale was touching her—soft lips all over her neck, one hand clutching the back of her neck possessively. It would have been sweet, had it not been for the rather insistent hand sliding along the inside of Crowley's thigh. With a pointed glance from Aziraphale, her fishnets made themselves scarce, and there was no polite reverence in the way he pulled her knickers to one side and pressed his hand against her wet, aching flesh.
"Ahh—ha—angel," Crowley whispered helplessly. And really, how could she be expected to think with those perfect, perfect fingers sliding into her body with a skilfulness she'd never have thought Aziraphale possessed? It felt almost as good as—well, there would be time for that later, Crowley supposed.
Aziraphale stared down with a sort of awed concentration, as though unable to fathom the reaction he was creating. Crowley's breath caught in her throat. She could still feel him, of course, his hardness pressing into her hip with every little movement, and it struck her as odd that for all his fervour, Aziraphale didn't seem particularly interested in his own satisfaction, only at devouring Crowley with those blessed eyes.
In an effort to bring the situation back towards something she could fathom, Crowley whispered into Aziraphale's hair, "oy, angel, let me help you there," as the angel mouthed his way from one pert nipple to the other.
Aziraphale looked up at her, his hair mussed and his skin damp, as though he hadn't the faintest idea what she was implying. Crowley smiled like a—well, she smiled, at any rate, at the realisation that she still had the upper hand. Without hesitation, she slid her small, slender hand between them, making Aziraphale's shirt fall open in the process, and rubbed gently at the bulge that she found.
"Oh," Aziraphale groaned articulately, his eyes falling shut.
A swell of something warm and pleasant filled Crowley's chest as she made quick work of Aziraphale's flies, tugging them away to reveal predictably plain, white pants.
"Couldn't even be bothered to break out the lacy underthings? And here I got all tarted up for you," she said, her palm massaging his erection with the utmost care.
"You did not," Aziraphale said between clenched teeth, "you got all tarted up because you're a—ahh—a tart."
"Mmnot," Crowley muttered fondly. "Still, I'm sure you could have had any he, she, or shemale in the place. I'm flattered you chose me to help vent your frustrations. They are a bit repressed across the pond, aren't they?"
For the first time, Aziraphale seemed to break from his lust-induced trance. He went still, for a moment, seeming to contemplate exactly what he was doing in a Parisian brothel with a pit-dweller who also happened to be from Hell. Crowley's stomach clenched uncomfortably. Then, to Crowley's dismay, he laughed—just once, soft and relaxed.
"Is that what you think this is?" he asked serenely.
"I think," Crowley said, trying to keep her head together, "that you are a massster in the art of—" Crowley reached down once more, hoping against hope to get the ball rolling again, "torture."
Aziraphale's eyes shut, only for a moment, before that same dreamy gaze returned.
"You really don't—Did I tell you about the war?" Aziraphale asked.
Crowley blinked for a moment, unsure whether she ought to give up and go find that bloke with the monkey.
"You mentioned it, but what's that to do with—"
"I was killed, you know. Twice, actually, but the second time was really the one that stuck."
Crowley suddenly wasn't sure she followed this particular train of thought, but it seemed to be going somewhere.
"They really. They just killed and killed. Men, women, slaves, masters. It was so… And I was there to help, of course, but nothing I did, nothing I said could dissuade them. It was like they were Hell bent on destroying their own nation."
"But, angel, that was, what? Forty years ago? Why now? Why are you—"
"Because I got discorporated and I wasn't sure I wanted to come back," Aziraphale said, rubbing his eyes hard with the ball of his hand.
Crowley sat up a bit.
"I thought—I considered whether or not I could still manage in the mortal realm. Existence, I mean. I bobbed around Heaven for a while, caught up on some paperwork and—"
"Because of a bloody war?" Crowley nearly shouted. Of all the ridiculous—
"Because of a bloody war. I know, I know, we've seen worse, but I. We are getting older, I think. Or I am, anyway. And I just, sometimes I can't stomach it. I can't bear watching them systematically destroy everything they've been given like spoilt children throwing a tantrum!" He said, a little hysterical.
"Oh, well, if it upsets your delicate constitution then by all means. But don't, don't just come back here all hot to go every time you need to work the kink out of your ethereal neck, you understand? I may look like a whore, but I'm not your whore. Not now, not ever."
It was absurd that Crowley felt betrayed, abandoned by someone who she never even realised had left, but she did, and there was no way around it.
"I came back for you," Aziraphale said, so quietly it almost slipped by unheard.
"You did what now?"
"I came back. For you, you idiot," Aziraphale repeated, looking pained.
"Why would you do a thing like that?" Crowley asked honestly.
"Because," Aziraphale paused, took a breath, and continued, "because it didn't seem fair, leaving without any notice. Because I missed having someone to talk to who isn't obsessed with the number of churches in Kent or how the Theory of Evolution fits into The Plan. Because I missed this," he said, leaning close, so close that Crowley couldn't help but kiss him.
"I see," Crowley murmured when their lips parted.
"Yes. Well," Aziraphale said uncomfortably, but his eyes locked onto Crowley's so fiercely that Crowley felt as though she were being rended from her flesh and examined by her maker. It was a bit strange.
Actually, everything about it was strange. What they'd forged, without even meaning to, this tenuous, shifting, brilliant bond that kept them sane and kept them together, was never meant to exist. It wasn't written in any holy book, and it certainly wasn't in the books belonging to either of their respective superiors, and yet—and yet.
Crowley kissed him, not because she wanted to, but because she felt it was the only manor fit to convey the myriad of twisted, lurking, unspoken truths that hung in the air between them, and strong and subtle as gossamer. It occurred to her then that she was in over her head, out of her depth, drowning in urges she was never supposed to have—at least, not since before The Fall. What a mess they'd made of things, of themselves, getting tangled up like this.
Finally, Crowley felt her composure return in small waves, and she glanced down, coyly, then back to Aziraphale's eyes.
"I suppose I was in the middle of something then, wasn't I?" Crowley asked quietly, not entirely trusting her voice.
"Yes, uhm, but…"
"But would you mind, er—changing? First?" Aziraphale asked, suddenly unable to look anywhere near Crowley's eyes.
"You don't mean into a—"
"No! No, of course not. If you could just. I'm used to you, not this… slattern."
"Hey, I'll have you know, I have conducted myself in a manner befitting a lady. Just because I have the parts, doesn't mean I'm set on wearing them out," she said with a huff.
"Crowley, could you please just?" Aziraphale said, sounding a touch impatient.
"Oh, alright. If you insist. I knew you were sentimental. I knew it," she said, shimmering out of her female form and slipping into something a little more comfortable.
In a blink, long raven hair shortened, just as soft curves flattened and hardened to plains of muscle and bone. Willowy legs lengthened even further, becoming wiry and solid, strong as a clamp around Aziraphale's waist.
Aziraphale blinked in wonder.
"What? Not having second thoughts, are you? Because I was getting damn tired of those breast and there's no way I'm going—" and then Aziraphale kissed him. Hard.
For the second time that evening, Crowley found himself being pressed into the rock-hard mattress. Aziraphale pulled away briefly and they both struggled to free him from his coat.
"Here, just," and with that Aziraphale had apparently had enough. Their clothes vanished instantaneously, except, Crowley was interested to note, the horribly tangled black lace skirt.
"Quiet, you filthy trollop," Aziraphale whispered, a smile tugging at the corner of his lips. "Besides, I know you like it."
Crowley opened his mouth to argue, but found it full of a tongue that didn't belong to him and decided that perhaps he did enjoy it, if only for the novelty.
In fact, parts of Crowley that were newly manifested seemed to be enjoying the whole situation quite a lot, thank you, and when Aziraphale's hand found its way between Crowley's legs, it was all he could do not to finish then and there.
"Oh oh oh, that's—" Crowley stuttered.
"No! No, s'good. S'very…"
Crowley's head was on the bed, but the rest of him arched gracefully into Aziraphale's body. Aziraphale smiled that soppy, angelic smile, made less so by the way his hand was stroking and squeezing at Crowley's swollen, desperate flesh.
"Wait, wait," Crowley pleaded, realising that yes, it was in fact good, and no, he did not want it to be over just yet. "Don't you want to…"
Aziraphale looked up at him with all seriousness. "You'll let me?"
Crowley chuckled. "It'd be a shame to become a prude at a time like this."
"That it would," Aziraphale replied, low and harsh with barely contained need.
With a thought, Crowley made sure that everything would go as smoothly as he wanted it to, and he caught hold of Aziraphale's cock with one slick, shaking hand.
"Ah, you" Aziraphale moaned helplessly.
"Well, this shouldn't take long," Crowley grunted, guiding Aziraphale towards his body with near-reverence.
"Cheeky," Aziraphale practically growled, fumbling for equilibrium as his hips rocked forward.
Before Crowley could formulate an appropriately scathing retort, Aziraphale found his centre, and Crowley's centre, in the process, and it was all Crowley could do not to scream with the sensation of such a sharp, welcome invasion. Aziraphale shut his eyes tight, his breath coming in shallow pants of tense control. Crowley reached up to stroke his hair, and at the touch, Aziraphale's head collapsed onto Crowley's shoulder with a whimper.
"Easy there," Crowley whispered. He hissed soothingly, waiting for Aziraphale to
Crowley made soothing sounds, all the while rocking his hips back and forth, pulling the angel in deeper with every motion.
Finally, Aziraphale seemed to regain his composure, and they began to move in earnest. The tight, small snap of Aziraphale's hips, the way he arched his back as he thrust into Crowley's body, the faint, pale light on his skin that no electric lamp would dare take credit for, it was all intensely pleasant in ways Crowley had never imagined.
He used to wonder if this was a sin, if this was lust—but no, how could it be? Since Lucifer split the sky and time began its finite march, lust had been there, lurking in the pores of every living thing. Lust was crude, earthly. Aziraphale was neither of those things, and when Crowley was with him, in him, surrounding him, the demon was almost certain that he wasn't either.
Crowley's blood raced, and his heart seemed to be making up for years of disuse, hammering a staccato rhythm against his ribcage as though his life depended on it. The bed shook and thumped against the wall with each thrust, and it was all Crowley could do not to tear the threadbare sheets to shreds.
Aziraphale threw back his head, biting his lip and snapping his hips hard enough that Crowley had to brace himself against the headboard.
"Are you— you're about to—" Crowley managed to say between gritted teeth and fierce thrusts.
Aziraphale nodded mindlessly.
"S'ok, just… S'ok," Crowley whispered unsure of who he was trying to convince.
Aziraphale looked at him then with eyes like pools of water, made choppy and dark by the tides of want.
"So much better, so much…" Aziraphale muttered incoherently.
It was Crowley's turn to nod, and he did, wondering how the bed, the building, the city wasn't crumbling to dust around them. That was just how it felt.
Without hesitation, Aziraphale reached down, taking in his hand the part of Crowley that screamed, pleaded, begged without end to be touched and stroked and teased to release.
Then, of course, it was over too quickly. Crowley's groaned with every stroke of Aziraphale's perfect hand, every twist of his fingers, his body remembering what they had felt like inside him only minutes ago and how deliciously, shamefully good it had been. Without warning, he was coming hard and fast, and it was everywhere, and his toes cramped and his fingernails rended red lines into Aziraphale's back. It felt as though he was exploding, dissolving, dwindling to a single point of light and pleasure with nothing but Aziraphale's thick, hard length inside him to keep him anchored to the earth.
"Angel," he whispered, and meant it.
Before Crowley had finished, Aziraphale began—wanton and lovely in his release. Crowley marvelled at the fact that he, only he, got to see this. That this was for him, not God in his heaven or the Devil in his lair. Aziraphale froze, taut as a bowstring, pulsing forcefully into Crowley's body. His face, flushed and shining, became utterly relaxed, and his body collapsed indelicately atop Crowley's already spent form, his muscles twitching occasionally in the aftermath.
After several minutes of silence, Aziraphale stuttered, "should I?" and began to sit up, as though realising that perhaps he was not invited to stay the night, just like every other patron the bed beneath them had accommodated.
"No. No, s'fine," Crowley said, slinging his arm over Aziraphale's shoulder and pinning him down. He was warm, after all. "I'm one of their best employees—was, rather. Not that I ever did much. They won't wonder if the room's occupied for the night."
For a long while, neither of them moved, and when they did it was only to crawl beneath the lone sheet on the brothel's poor excuse for a bed. Their elbows got tangled and their knees bumped together, but eventually they managed it, tucking in against the cool night air. Crowley shivered and the angel curled over him, protectively. Any other time, Crowley would have taken offence, but he couldn't find it in him to be difficult just then. With his head on Aziraphale's chest, he could hear the ocean.
It was then that Crowley realised something was off. They didn't do this, generally. Even when they did it, they didn't do this. Crowley sat up a bit so that he could see Aziraphale's face.
"Hey," he whispered, feeling Aziraphale give a slight tremor. With one hand he pushed the hair from Aziraphale's forehead. "Hey, are you—is something wrong? Besides the obvious," he added, glancing at their tangled bodies and the freshly-stained sheets.
The angel looked up, as though he had only just noticed that Crowley was there. "Sorry," Aziraphale said, distractedly. "I'm just so glad I didn't decide to—well. You know."
Crowley snorted, trying not to grin. "I suppose I have Wilde to thank for this then? Bloody poufter."
"Stones and glass houses, my dear," Aziraphale said kindly.
"Yeah alright. I see your point, distasteful allegory aside."
"I'm glad I found you. That's all," said Aziraphale, twining his finger with Crowley's.
"You always do," Crowley mumbled sleepily. He could feel the angel breathing against his temple, sprawled naked and unafraid, in bed with a demon. He wondered whether Aziraphale thought of it that way, and whether he considered Crowley to be an exception—or something else entirely.
"You always let me," Aziraphale said, kissing Crowley's damp mess of hair.
"Hmm. I suppose you're right," Crowley replied with half-hearted cheek. Really, it was difficult to be sharp when all one's body wanted was to melt into a puddle of satisfied exhaustion.
Crowley could feel Aziraphale smile. Without another word, for words are so often the downfall of great things, he let himself slide into unconsciousness with practiced ease, unconcerned as to whether he would wake up alone or suffocated by a sleeping Principality. It didn't much matter. They'd always find each other in the end.