Disclaimer: I do not own Good Omens, Aziraphale, Crowley or Christmas.

The bell jingled over the door of the bookshop as Anthony Crowley walked in. The sign was turned to "Closed", but the door was not locked and Crowley knew he was welcome.

Looking around, he saw no one at first, but then a cheery greeting came from over his head. His best friend, the angel Aziraphale, was on a ladder on the second story. Crowley chuckled to himself as he decided that he'd been caught up in a Christmas-carol cliché. Aziraphale descended first the ladder, then the staircase to the first floor. He'd apparently just finished hanging the greens inside his shop.

In fact, the whole store looked as if Christmas had detonated inside of it, very definitely but very tastefully. It was all green and red, with accents of blue and silver and the occasional unlit candle. The only electric decorations were the white lights on two formal trees, one on each level.

The two embraced and exchanged the customary hello-how-are-yous. Crowley set the gift bag he carried—which Aziraphale didn't seem to have noticed so far—on the counter by the cash register as Aziraphale hung his coat up for him.

"You've got the place looking sharp," Crowley said, gesturing around.

"Why, thank you," Aziraphale said. "I know that the shopping season has already started, but I closed all day today just to do it."

Crowley looked at his watch. It was only three o'clock, on a Saturday. He knew that it was just really just an excuse on the angel's part.

Since Armageddon had almost occurred nine years ago, Aziraphale had managed to rebuild his collection of spiritual writings and antique prophetic works, but his stance on actually selling books had softened a bit. He now felt that life was too short and precious for humans not to use it for reading, and was now willing to sell the right book to the right person...a thing he determined by divine intuition. He still kept his merchandise protected by a maze of odd hours, bad lighting, and poor customer service, just in case.

"Um...right," Crowley said. "Say, I've brought you your present!"

"So early?" Aziraphale asked, finally noticing the gift bag. "Christmas is still a few weeks away."

Crowley shrugged. "It's pretty perfect, though, so I was eager to see you open it. Besides, I know that you'll be busy this month."

It was true. Aziraphale might even work as many as seventy hours this month.

Since the almost-end-of-the-world, Crowley had essentially been a free agent. For every demon who did not seem to know what he had done around that time, there was at least one who would never forgive him and and who he avoided scrupulously. Crowley now caused only the havoc that he deemed necessary, and got by more than comfortably on a number of investments. His investments were all short-term—he knew them to be crooked and always got out just in time. Aziraphale, on the other hand, still had his angelic duties...and very long-term accounts in two of the oldest and most honest banking houses in England. Despite monthly automated donations to charity, Aziraphale was, in his own unassuming way, just as well off as Crowley. Maybe more.

That they both usually preferred using money to using their abilities, as angel stock, to manifest anything they needed or wanted was only one of many habits that caused their respective colleagues to say that they had "gone native".

"As it happens," Aziraphale said, "I have your gift, too."

"Oh, good!" Crowley said eagerly.

"Let me go get it," Aziraphale said. He started to walk away, but paused. "Do need anything to drink?"

"Some water would be nice," Crowley replied.

Aziraphale retreated to the apartment that he kept in the back of the store. He emerged a moment later with a gift bag and two chilled bottles of water.

"Come over here," he said, motioning with his head to the back left corner of the bookstore.

Aziraphale had created a "community area" there, in deference to current bookstore culture, and as if there were ever more than one customer in at a time. To one side of the formal Christmas tree, a battered secondhand sofa, love seat and chair circled around a small entertainment center, where a 13-inch TV was not even connected to the wheezing VHS and DVD players beneath it.

As Crowley joined his friend, he found himself observing him. Aziraphale was dressed in khaki slacks, with a white button-down shirt and a blue-grey vest. With Crowley's help, he'd managed to update his look in the past few years, but in a characteristically timeless way. His hair, medium-length and blond with highlights ranging from ash to platinum, was only accentuated by the wire-rimmed glasses he wore. Totally unnecessary, as the angel's gray eyes functioned better than most human eyes; but they were Aziraphale's idea and, Crowley had to admit, they looked good.

On his way over to the sitting area, Crowley paused. There was an antique writing desk caddy-cornered to one of the bookshelves, with an empty inkwell on top. In the inkwell were three white feathers. They were as white as snowy-owl feathers...if snowy-owls used the sort of industrial bleach that luxury hotels used on their linens.

"Aziraphale," Crowley said, "are these...yours?"

The angel turned from where he was seated on the love seat and nodded. "I lost them that day in Tadfield. I think it was when we thought that...Adam's father would show up."

"Can't blame you," Crowley said. "I've met Adam's father. The biological one, I mean. He 's a scary bloke. Why did you save them, though?"

"As a reminder," Aziraphale said. "A reminder of how precious the world is, and how close it came to ending."

Crowley nodded, and regarded the feathers thoughtfully. It didn't alarm him that the angel had lost them. He knew, from having feathers of his own, that to lose them was neither painful, harmful, nor all that unusual under stress. The feathers were about six to seven inches long...from the middle of the wing, from the look of them. Feathers from the outer edge could be a foot long and longer, depending on the height of the angel.

Shaking out of the reverie of his own memories of that day, the demon walked over and took a seat on the couch. They placed both gifts on the coffee table, and Crowley cracked open his bottled water.

"You first," Crowley said.

"No, you," Aziraphale countered. "I insist."

Opening his gift box, Crowley pulled aside the tissue paper to find a CD jewel case with a plain silver disc behind a clear cover. Written on the CD by a Sharpie, in Aziraphale's distinctive flowing script, was "Faust, Munich Opera House, 1925."

Crowley's jaw dropped. This production had gone down in the history of theater criticism as one of the best productions of "Faust" ever. It was so good that the tenor in the lead role was rumored to have sold his soul to the Devil. The fact that a wealthy local merchant arranged the extravagance of recording the final matinée on vinyl only added fuel to that fire. It wasn't actually true—that particular Dr. Faustus had made no such bargain, and so this CD would not be among Crowley's soul music. It was a good thing, too, as he had gained no immortality from being on one of the first theatrical recordings ever....of which there were only three copies in existence. Until now.

"Aziraphale," Crowley said in awe, "how did you come by this?"

Aziraphale shrugged. "I contacted the granddaughter of Herr Kauffman, the man who commissioned the original recording. She played it aloud and recorded it digitally. She's really quite good with technology, and had always meant to put this in digital format, anyway. She just needed some assistance acquiring the software."

"Well I...thank you," Crowley said emotionally. "I love it."

Aziraphale smiled. "I'm glad," he said.

"Now," Crowley said, playfully stabbing a finger toward the gift bag he had brought.

"Right, right." The angel dug into the bag and, once again with the crinkling of tissue-paper, pulled out a book: The Spiritual Memoirs of Albert Einstein.

The actually-quite-spiritually-minded physicist had published twenty copies of his final work through a vanity press, and distributed them to friends shortly before his death. One of those fortunate friends happened to be an Englishman, one of whose heirs had passed away from old age in October.

"Crowley," Aziraphale said, "I've been looking for this. I went out to an estate sale in Surrey last week. That's where I got that writing desk. But the barrister said that the deceased's copy of this...," realization dawned, "had...already been purchased by a private buyer."

Crowley smiled mischievously. "I knew how much you wanted this," he said, "but I also knew that if you bought it yourself, you'd feel obligated to put it out for sale. It's yours now."

"But," the angel said with concern, "what if it was meant for someone else?"

"Then they'd have it, wouldn't they?" Crowley replied, his smile not fading. "It's ineffable, right?"

Aziraphale, who had been clasping the book reverently in his hands, laid it flat across his knees with a sly smile. "I'm willing to say so, at any rate. Thank you, Crowley. I'll probably start this tonight."

"And I," Crowley waved the CD, "will be converting this to mp3 and putting it on my player as soon as I get home."

At this, Aziraphale's face fell. He slumped visibly, his head dropping.

"Aziraphale! What's wrong?" Crowley asked.

Aziraphale sighed. "It's not your fault. It's just that sometimes I feel like I can't keep up. I didn't even take to compact discs until five years after everyone else had."

Crowley eased over onto the love seat to sit next to the angel, who scooted back to accommodate him. "And people still use them. I mean, it's not as if this is available on eSongs, anyway. I just want to be able to hear it when I'm jogging. Or in the car—we both know what will happen if I leave the CD in the car."

The angel rolled his eyes. "That's true enough."

Crowley clasped Aziraphale's hands between his own. "At any rate, I didn't mean to hurt you. I'm thrilled with my gift."

"Thank you," Aziraphale said. He pulled one hand free of Crowley's hands and rubbed his forehead. "It's not even just about technology. You know what I honestly think this is about? 'Happy Holidays'."


"It's what I hear these days, on the street and from my customers. And people are just trying to be polite to people they don't know, I understand that. I should be all for it. But it's just so...different, after a few centuries of 'Merry Christmas'. Makes me feel like the world is changing...and leaving me behind."

"If it makes you feel any better," Crowley said, "I have some idea how you feel. These days, if someone does something really bad—kills a lot of people, for instance—people automatically assume it's madness. Everyone's an armchair psychologist. The accused doesn't even have to claim madness, the public claims it for 'em. No one ever says that my old lot made them do it anymore."

"But...your old lot never made anyone do anything," Aziraphale said.

Crowley shrugged. "I know. But it's nice to be on the suspect list."

"Now that," Aziraphale said, "I understand. What if they decide they don't need us anymore, Crowley?" he asked miserably.

"Aziraphale," Crowley said earnestly, reaching and turning the angel's head to face him, "humanity is not going to decide that they don't need you. Why, you represent one half of the dynamic forces that keep the universe going 'round."

Aziraphale blinked. "And? You represent the other half."

Crowley grinned. "Didn't say I was down on myself, just that I'm a fan of yours as well. But Aziraphale, you're not something that can be done away with by changing fashion. You're not the format." Here he waved a hand demonstratively at the CD. "You're the music."

An expression of awe came onto Aziraphale's face. After a long moment, he moved closer to the demon, and kissed him. Crowley responded in kind, melting into it for a moment, enjoying it just for what it was. But the kiss kept going, and Aziraphale gradually raised its intensity in that way that is meant to let the other person know that they may have you if you want them.

"Oh..." Crowley said in acknowledgement, as they finally broke the kiss.

"Would you like to go back to my room?" Aziraphale asked.

"Yes," Crowley said. "Yes. Very much." In fact, he was somewhat amazed by how much he wanted to do that. He realized that he'd probably been wanting that at least since he'd shown up, but it was all hitting him just now. Combing his memory, he realized that it had been in a few months since they'd been together in that way. That, in his mind, just wouldn't do.

They walked hand-in-hand through the bookshop and down the hallway that started by the front counter. Before they got to the small apartment that Aziraphale kept at the other end, the angel turned and gently pressed Crowley against the wall. He removed the demon's sunglasses, and Crowley turned his head, eyes squinted shut. When Crowley looked at Aziraphale again, it was through beautiful chestnut-brown eyes.

"My dear boy," Aziraphale said, "that's not necessary. I don't need to forget who you are."

Crowley closed his eyes again. "Suit yourself," he said. As he made the change, his voice had an eerie, echoing quality. When he opened his eyes again, they were yellow, slitted and reptilian.

"There we go," Aziraphale said. He kissed the demon again, skillfully, urgently, until Crowley felt himself going weak in the knees.

"Still planning on getting a lot of reading done tonight?" Crowley asked, his voice growing husky with desire, as Aziraphale kissed down his jawline.

"Not if I can help it," Aziraphale replied.

"Mmm, that's a high compliment indeed."

Aziraphale led him the rest of the way into his apartment.

It was a small, cozy room, with blue-painted walls and a small garret window in the high ceiling. The furnishings---bed, dresser, wardrobe, desk, night-table and two chairs—would have been in place, in terms of style and color, any time in the past hundred years. A space heater ticked dutifully in the corner, for which Crowley was grateful: a low-grade chill in the rest of the shop was one of Aziraphale's security measures. The room was as warm as if it had been heated for at least half an hour, but the heater had probably just now come on

Aziraphale didn't sleep as much as Crowley did, but after all, one had to have a private space for reading, doing the books, writing correspondence and the like. This room also became the guest bedroom if some unfortunate soul needed temporary sanctuary.

And then there was this purpose. This purpose had brought the two of them here before...as well as to Crowley's bedroom. And Crowley's lounge...and even his office.

Normally, the bodies of Aziraphale and Crowley wouldn't have demanded sleep, food or sex from them at all. But those were all things which, one you tried them for their own sake, you got used to.

They fell into another embrace. Crowley tried to take control, groping to remove Aziraphale's vest, or find the end of his belt. The other man wasn't having it, though, and kept reversing Crowley's efforts with the skill of a tai chi master. This time, the Crowley mused, Aziraphale was apparently going to insist on opening his gift first.

Aziraphale sat on the edge of the bed, and indicated the space beside him in the universal gesture for come, sit. Crowley complied. Aziraphale was all earnestness and nervousness as he turned to the Crowley, and took a deep breath before he spoke.

"Do you trust me?"

Crowley laughed at this, before he could stop himself, then realized that he'd probably just been rude. It went without saying between the two of them—or so he had thought. And if you knew what Aziraphale was, well, you had to trust him. Didn't you?

"What brings this on?" Crowley asked.

"There's just...something I've been wanting to try for a little while now. With you." He paused significantly. "More to the point, on you. A surprise."

Crowley was intrigued, and pleased to see his lover exercising creativity. That always worked out well for both of them. "Sure," he said cheerfully. "I'm game."

Aziraphale reached back and turned down the covers, as Crowley removed his shoes and socks. "Okay then," the angel said, turning to his lover. "Just...lie back."

Crowley complied, practically diving into place. He was far enough back that Aziraphale, who was right next to him, put a hand behind his head to make sure that it found the pillow instead of the headboard. The angel began to remove the gray, fleecy, v-necked shirt that the demon wore, and Crowley stretched his arms over his head to make it easier. Next came the black slacks and leather belt, and then, separately, the red briefs. He always did it like that, Crowley reflected—the pants and underwear separately. It reminded him of the kind of people who read the card with their gift before seeing what they'd gotten. As Crowley lay down and settled into place, Aziraphale slipped off his own shoes.

Once that was done, Aziraphale came to a kneeling position next to Crowley, on the other side of the bed. His expression was thoughtful.

"It really is a beautiful form you've chosen this time," he said solemnly.

Crowley felt a catch in his chest which bobbed up to become a lump in his throat. "Thank you," he said.

Crowley fell just a hair short of the lower register of "buff". If he missed the mark, it was at least partly because his frame was a bit too slight. (This was only in his human form, of course.) His skin had a slightly dusky tone to it, and there was a pleasingly faint spray of hair across his chest. The hair on his head was black, and had some curl to it if he didn't use any product, which was the current fashion.

As for the obvious...well, it has been written that angels are sexless, unless they try really hard at it. This is actually true. Alan Rickman's depiction of the Metatron is not far off from what you would find on most angels. On these occasions, however, Aziraphale and Crowley both found that fully inhabiting their apparent physical sex was worth the effort.

Crowley's was a dark beauty. This was true even now, when he was bereft of the dark coats and sharp suits he that he used, often without success, to project menace and unalloyed self-interest. It was dark in a difficult-to-define way that had nothing to do with the color of his hair.

Crowley realized that something in the room had changed. He looked over to the chair closest to him, to find his clothes neatly folded there. Neither of them, he knew, had done that by hand. His sunglasses, which he had managed to forget about, were folded primly on the night table.

"What's this?" he asked, gesturing to the chair.

Aziraphale shrugged. "Angel," he said, by way of explanation.

With a gesture, Crowley caused the clothes to spill across the floor. There, he thought, now that reflected the appropriate amount of enthusiasm.

Aziraphale frowned. "Demon," Crowley said, by way of explanation.

Aziraphale smiled as if in spite of himself. "Fine, then," he said. Then he paused. "So, sorry," he said. "Where are my manners? Should I be undressed for this as well?"

Crowley actually had to consider this for a second. "Well, eventually of course," he said coyly, propping himself up on his elbows. "But...this is fine for now."

As much Crowley he enjoyed seeing his lover in all his glory (well, okay, perhaps not all if it—that might have required the sunglasses), there was something about the inequality of the current setup that was really working for him.

"All right," the angel replied. He caressed one side of the demon's face. "Now, just close your eyes and relax."

Crowley did so, but with a smirk. "'Close your eyes'?" he asked, teasingly. "What? No restraints? Not even a 'don't move' or 'don't make a sound'? Those are always real time-savers."

"My dear boy," the angel replied dryly, "I don't think you'll be able to help doing either of those things."

At this, Crowley's eyes snapped open. Aziraphale was serious, he could tell.

"Perhaps this will suffice," Aziraphale said mischievously, and moved to straddle him.

Now, Crowley had had a point. Restraints were among the things that normally would be expected if one party asked another party if they trusted them, in an otherwise unoccupied bedroom, three weeks before Christmas. The truth was, though, that Crowley wouldn't have had the heart to tie Aziraphale up and Aziraphale—well, he wouldn't have had the heart to tie anyone up.

Nevertheless, Crowley found the feeling of being pinned under his partner almost indescribably delicious. Aziraphale would stop whatever he was doing right away if asked, Crowley knew, and let Crowley up if asked as well. He was an angel, after all. Paradoxically, Crowley cherished both the knowledge of being completely safe, and the chance to entertain the fantasy that he might not be.

So he nodded in agreement. "Yeah. This is nice."

He shut his eyes, but they flew open again when he felt something silky graze his right foot . Aziraphale now held the three bright white feathers that Crowley had seen over in the shop. Without actually thinking about it, Crowley drew up that leg.

"Just let me know if it gets to be too much," Aziraphale said reassuringly.

Crowley stretched his leg back out and closed his eyes again, trying to steady his breathing and heartbeat. He sensed Aziraphale shift one knee to be between Crowley's knees, which left him feeling both pinned and spread-eagled.

Crowley had learned rather more than he had ever wanted to know about human anatomy from his former associates. Among the things he knew was that the tickets to tickling someone—or avoiding it--were surface area and speed. As it turned out, the three feathers, spread out side-to-side, were perfect width to maintain only a smooth, pleasant sensation, especially when laid flat against the skin. Aziraphale's motions, of course were careful. The feathers continued to feel like nothing so much as silk as they trailed across the side and top of his foot, then up the top surface of his leg.

About the time they made their way up the outer side of his thigh, Crowley became convinced that, even as careful as Aziraphale was being, it would have been impossible for these feathers to cause any unpleasant sensation. It probably had to do with their angelic nature. In fact, if Crowley concentrated, he thought he could sense a faint warmth trailing behind them, a kind of quicksilver tingling swimming across his skin. Of course, all of this was being done with wonderful, exquisite slowness.

The only unpleasant part was that at times, Crowley would become uncomfortably aware of how aroused he was. He managed not to react as the feathers trailed up the inside of his right leg—he was still observing the novelties of the experience. Then Aziraphale shifted to repeat the process on the other leg. This time, against his will, a forlorn whimper escaped Crowley as Aziraphale stopped short of the tender, throbbing flesh between his thighs.

"Easy, my darling," the angel whispered, and Crowley felt a hand stroking his hair. "We'll get there."

The angel took the demon's right hand and gently extended that arm. He ran the feathers up the top surface of the arm, as slowly as always, and went on to trace the collarbone. Crowley leaned into this at the last, then turned his other arm to make it easier to give it the same treatment.

Aziraphale brought the feathers back around after that, and began broad, languid strokes across Crowley's chest. This made Crowley grow slightly dizzy with pleasure, and it occurred to him that for a moment at least, he had forgotten all about anything going on below his waist. He shivered pleasantly as the plumes brushed across the hard knots of his nipples.

Next, Aziraphale proceeded to sweep slowly up and down his lover's flanks and abdomen. Through the haze, Crowley vaguely revisited his observation about the angelic nature of the feathers.

At this point, Crowley opened his eyes for a glimpse of his partner. The angel's face was all focus and concentration. There was a delicacy to his actions as well...something about the way he went after his task reminded Crowley of a painter. There was also something in his expression...no. Could it be. Reverence? Crowley quickly closed his eyes again. It was like staring at the sun, too much to take in.

Soon, Crowley a slight draft as Aziraphale moved off to one side of him. Then he felt the feathers at his throat. Slowly, they trailed down the middle line of his body. Crowley reached up to grip the pillow underneath his head on either side, thinking to wonder if there were feathers inside it as well. By the time the plumes grazed across his navel, Crowley was panting. He arched his lower back as Aziraphale continued down, toward the thatch of dark hair. Please yes, please, Crowley thought, surely this time--

And then, Aziraphale's feathers were where angelic feathers were never intended to be, doing things that Crowley was fairly certain that angelic feathers were never intended to do.

He was able to ride the waves for a while, relaxing and enjoying the pleasure that each stroke sent through him. Then Aziraphale cupped one hand underneath him, so that he might better feel it. It wasn't long then until Aziraphale's predictions became true. Crowley could not contain the noises he made—breathless, hiccupping gasps, and cries anywhere along the range between a moan and a scream—or the helpless movements he made in rhythm with Aziraphale's ministrations.

The real clincher, Crowley managed somehow to think to himself, was that this was part of his lover's body that was causing him so much pleasure. Not part that was still attached to nerves, or what passed for nerves in angels, it was true—but if anything, that meant more. Aziraphale wasn't getting anything out of it. Well, nothing physical anyway, he thought as he remembered the angel's expression a moment ago. Aziraphale's own feathers...Crowley imagined that he could probably come just thinking about it.

Then he realized that no, he probably couldn't. As wonderful as it was, he would need something more. That thought flipped a switch somewhere within Crowley, shifted the balance in a way that had been inevitable.

Grateful now that his hands weren't bound, Crowley placed one gently over Aziraphale's wrist. "That'll do," he said, gasping, "thank you...that'll do."

"Very well, my darling," Aziraphale said, putting the feathers on the nightstand and then petting him again.

"My angel," Crowley said, leaning up and fixing his partner with his gaze, "please, finish me."
Aziraphale smiled. "My dear man, I wouldn't dream of disappointing you," he said in a bedroom tone. "What do you want?"

"It's up to you," Crowley said, collapsing back onto the bed.. His voice was still breathy and rough.

Aziraphale moved backward slightly in the bed, and bowed his head over his lover's hips. Crowley realized that this was what he'd been hoping for. He felt a hand wrap around him to steady him, then soft, wet warmth enveloped him. Crowley gripped his pillow again. He found himself repeatedly murmuring a name...not Aziraphale's name, but a name he hadn't said in a very long time. A few moments later, he found release with a surprisingly soft moan.

It took a moment for Crowley's reality to decide to reassemble itself. The normal physical satisfaction seemed to extend from deep within him right through to his skin—perhaps because the skin had been so lavished with attention beforehand.

With a literal snap of his fingers, Crowley cleaned up. That was one of the advantages to sex with and between celestial beings. It was the best of both worlds: all the mess of human sex, with instantaneous clean-up.

Aziraphale stretched out next to Crowley and pulled him into the crook of his arm, with his head resting on Aziraphale's shoulder. The demon realized that even though he had not been beaten, struck or whipped at all, the angel was making sure that he was all right. It was probably a good idea. He wanted to start the second act, wanted to ravish Aziraphale in reward for what he'd just done for him; but he couldn't even move. He waited a moment, and then tried again. Nope, still not happening.

Perhaps, he decided, if he didn't try to force it, his head would clear faster. He could only imagine how worked up he would feel if he were in Aziraphale's shoes; but if his lover felt any impatience, he didn't show it. Crowley rested quietly, enjoying their proximity, until his powers of movement and speech got over their snit and returned to him.

"Aziraphale," he said, "you amaze me. Really you do. I mean, you knock me out. All the time."

Aziraphale looked amused, if slightly surprised. "Why, thank you," he said. "I'm glad you had a good time."

Crowley propped himself up on one arm, and looked at his companion mischievously. He kissed Aziraphale, wrapping him in his arms. Then, in a fluid motion, he rolled them both over. The angel found himself completely naked, pinned under an equally naked demon.

Aziraphale gasped and clung to Crowley almost involuntarily, both startled and aroused. He looked frantically around the room until he saw his clothes, neatly folded in the other chair.

"Thank you for folding them at least," he said teasingly.

"Of course," Crowley replied. "Couldn't have you distracted."

Crowley kissed him again, and Aziraphale kissed back. An exploratory hand wandered down below Aziraphale's waist.

"Hmm," Crowley said, grinning. "Seems like I'm not the only one who had a good time earlier."

Aziraphale closed his eyes and nodded vigorously.

"Aziraphale, I really, really want to please you," Crowley said, his hand still at its slow but naughty work. "And what I really want to do is to end it in the same way. Is that all right?" Aziraphale nodded again.

Crowley left off what he'd been doing long enough to carefully remove his partner's eyeglasses. He kept eye contact with Aziraphale as he folded his glasses and placed them on the night table, next to his own sunglasses.

"It's a beautiful form you've chosen this time," he said, echoing Aziraphale's earlier words. Aziraphale blushed and smiled, and averted his gaze. Crowley knew that this was a good as a compliment accepted.

Crowley had, of course, had an amazing time earlier, but there had been something missing. There was less distance now, less of a remove as they twined together skin-to-skin. They continued kissing as Crowley's hands roamed over Aziraphale's arms and back and chest and legs. Crowley planted kisses down one side of his partner's neck and then, just past the base, he bit gently, exerting almost no pressure at all--

With teeth that all now came to sharp points.

Aziraphale gasped again in response, but didn't object. Crowley's lips glided over the shoulder, then pinpricks came again at the ball of the joint.

As Crowley planted kisses down Aziraphale's throat, his lover stretched his neck slightly in submission. He ventured lower, to trace the line of Aziraphale's sternum, and the flesh jumped under his mouth with Aziraphale's excited, shuddering breaths. Incited by this reaction, Crowley lingered mercilessly over this area, until Aziraphale finally melted into his arms with a sigh.

Crowley administered a small, vertical lick just where the right chest muscle gave way to the ribcage. A few more playful nips followed, this time with human teeth, at the base of the ribcage on that side and on the left flank. Further down, Crowley gnawed gently for a moment on the edge of one hip-bone. Squirming turned to writhing as Crowley pinned Aziraphale's legs with his hands and slowly traced the beautiful lines of the hip reflexes with his tongue.

Crowley would have agreed that Aziraphale looked, right now, like something that belonged on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. His skin was pale, his chest smooth, and there was a softness to his body that Crowley's just didn't have. He was neither notably fit nor unfit, yet there was a compactness to his form, a kind of elegance to the lines. Aziraphale's was a bright beauty, in hard-to-define way that had nothing to do with the color of his hair.

The truth was that Crowley adored in Aziraphale even those personality traits which humans might consider frumpy or bookish or out-or-step. But the truth was also that at moments like these, those characteristics fell away as the angel connected with something—well, something almost as old as himself. Nothing was left behind but that creature from the Sistine Chapel---all moans and sighs and fluid grace. (The sighs were what really slew Crowley.) An angel in ecstasy...albeit a distinctly earthy sort. It was enough to make Crowley's mouth water.

Which worked out well for what he started doing next.

However much Aziraphale usually got into the proceedings, it was always hard to get him to lose that last little bit of control. As always, however, Crowley was determined—and patient. He could do strange things with his tongue, after all. If he'd managed to loosen Aziraphale's metaphorical grip as he had traveled down his body, Crowley now prized finger from metaphorical finger off of what was left of his partner's composure.

"Oh, Crowley," Aziraphale finally whispered, "I'm so close...,"

This only caused Crowley to intensify his efforts, until Aziraphale finally arched against him in surrender.

Now it was Crowley's turn to sit back and watch his partner reassemble his reality. As Aziraphale's ragged breaths subsided to normal, his eyes met Crowley's. "Thank you," he whispered.

"You're quite welcome," Crowley said. He stretched on his side next to Aziraphale on the nightstand side of the bed, his head propped up on one hand. Apparently Aziraphale got the invitation, because after cleaning up in much the same manner as Crowley had, he nestled up against him, back to front. Once they were spooned together, Aziraphale heaved a contented sigh, and Crowley's head swam with the niceness of it all.

"You know, it's interesting," Aziraphale said, after a moment. "This is probably the thing that I do that makes me feel the most human."

"That is interesting," Crowley said. "It's a little more specific for me."

"In what way?"

"It's the thing that I do that makes me feel the most...male."


"Well yeah," Crowley said. "I guess it's just the feeling of having satisfied someone I care about, and of...well, having been of use to someone."

"Hmm. Human women enjoy those feelings too, you know," Aziraphale pointed out gently. "Both of those feelings."

"Oh, I know," Crowley conceded. "In fact, I remember. The second one, at any rate. But that's just how it works in my head. So there," he concluded with mock petulance.

Aziraphale chuckled. "Good enough then."

A lull ensued in the conversation, after which Aziraphale spoke up.

"I love you, Crowley."

Crowley felt himself swoon inside. "I love you, too, Aziraphale."

Aziraphale turned slightly to look back at his lover. "You know, when I do speak to Heaven, the angels there almost seem to pity me. 'Stuck here' on Earth, they say...as if it was such a burden..."

"They never did get it," Crowley cut in. "Neither side, I mean. I don't get why it means so much to them when they can't appreciate it."

"I know," Aziraphale agreed. "More to the point...as long as you're here, I am home."

This brought Crowley up short for a second. Again he felt an emotional tightness in his chest.

"And as long as you're here," Crowley said, "I haven't lost Heaven at all."

Aziraphale smiled. "Yes. This place has so much to recommend it...but you're the reason I love it here."

Crowley nodded. "I think that along the way, we've helped each other see how wonderful this world is."

Aziraphale's smile twisted into a smirk. Crowley was quite sure that he was remembering a time, a few centuries back, when a certain brown-eyed demon had burst into his cottage and told him that he simply had to get down to the Globe Theatre that night. In his turn, Crowley might have easily recalled one evening decades ago, in the midst of one of their icier disputes, when he'd found a record slipped under the door of his flat—whale songs, recorded for the first time. A note inside the jacket said simply, "Beautiful". On both occasions, each of them, respectively, had ended up moved to tears...and not just because the other had thought of him.

As Aziraphale settled back into his arms again, Crowley remembered how they had come to be together. As one might imagine, based on their relative worldliness, it had been Crowley who had led their way into the uncharted territory of sexuality; but it had been Aziraphale who had first kissed him, that day in St. James's park, their first meeting after the world had almost ended.

The kiss had occurred on impulse, as they had sat in Crowley's idling Bentley, with, ironically, Queen's "Somebody to Love" playing faintly over the tape deck. Aziraphale had apparently realized his feelings for Crowley for some millennia now, but only now, with Crowley's connections to Hell apparently severed, did he really feel free to act on them. At that moment, though, the angel had sought only to part the storm clouds on his friend's face. How was he to know that by so doing, he would solve the very problem that the demon had been brooding about?

They had not "gone all the way" in any sense that same day, as they spent time together afterwards discussing their relationship at Crowley's flat. But they got a damned sight further than Crowley ever would have dreamed possible. It was not fear of divine reprisal that held them back, but fear of the unknown, sometimes as delicious to defer to in this context as it was to confront; that, and the knowledge that they had all the time in the world.

Ironically, for all his knowledge and his talk, Crowley had not come to the game with any more experience than Aziraphale had. Most demons on field assignment expected to occasionally have to get their hands dirty and carry out a seduction themselves. Crowley, however, had a distaste for the deception and heartbreak involved, and had always, conveniently, found a willing human around to do the job. Not being at the home office, he was also exempt from all the courtly intrigues of Hell, where demons chose one side or the gender fence or the other (if not both) and proved their obscenity with revels whose quality was completely different from what Aziraphale and Crowley shared.

That was how it came to be that the other was all either of them knew of this sort of love, or cared to know.

Aziraphale, for his part, had never looked back. He had never equivocated or regretted or feared for his ultimate destination. Crowley was exceedingly grateful for this. He would never have knowingly done anything that would have gotten his friend into real trouble, and he wouldn't have wanted to miss out on what they had together; but he also didn't want Aziraphale to suffer mental anguish on his account.

Not long after the Arrangement had changed, Aziraphale had shared with Crowley his conclusion that they were meant to be together. He figured that if he still wanted something after so long, and after expending so much (all right, a little) effort to not want it...well, he must be meant to have it. He could not have brought himself to be involved with an active minion of Hell; Crowley understood this and did not resent the time they had spent apart. But the change in Crowley's circumstances had been all the evidence that Aziraphale had needed. It was part of the ineffable plan, he believed...not in the sense of a test that they were bound to fail, but in the sense that it was blessed because it made them both happier than they would have otherwise been.

And if Heaven knew anything, it said nothing.

Crowley's mind lazily reviewed all of this now, as he rested with his angel in his arms. For no reason—not that he needed one--he leaned over and kissed Aziraphale's lips. He had intended for it to be a brief, casual kiss. Almost without his meaning to, it grew deeper, both more heated and more tender, as Crowley slowly kissed different places on Aziraphale's mouth and the angel turned in his embrace to respond.

Crowley moaned softly, and had to bite back his words to avoid taking the name of Aziraphale's employer in vain again.

"Whew!" Aziraphale murmured, panting as they paused for breath.

"Aziraphale," Crowley said, "Do you think that you could go again?"

"Well, I certainly can now!" Aziraphale answered. "What did you have in mind?"

Crowley leaned over and whispered into his ear.

"Oh, my!" Aziraphale said. "We usually only do that when the right date comes round."

In this case, he was referring to June the ninth. Or September the sixth.

They both sat up in bed. "So—the usual way then?" Aziraphale asked.

"Of course," Crowley said, as his wings unfurled.

Folding their wings behind them, they lay back down, head to hip and hip to head. Their limbs entwined as they began a second round of pleasure. As always, Crowley was reminded of the yin-yang symbol—representing not goodness within evil and good being just enough of a bastard to be worth liking, although there was that; but rather, the dynamic interplay between Light and Darkness.

Afterwards, newly satisfied, they lay spooned together again. Crowley rubbed Aziraphale's arm idly, occasionally drifting over to his back. Oddly, the angel's skin was always slightly cool to the touch, whereas Crowley felt just a little warmer than most people. The dichotomy was almost childishly literal, but there it was.

"Would you like to stay the night?" Aziraphale asked.

"Yeah, sure," Crowley said. "That'd be great."

"Do you have a bag packed?"

Crowley concentrated for a moment. "Not before, but I do now." He would go out to the car before they turned in.

"If you have to step out for a moment in the morning, I understand," Crowley said. One of Aziraphale's angelic responsibilities was to show up—whether in corporeal form or not—at an Abrahamic house of worship once a week.

"No," Aziraphale said. "I'll just go to the Advent Taize chant service at St. Anne's Episcopal tomorrow night. That counts, and it's lovely."

"Sounds like it," Crowley said, without any real regret for not being able to go himself. "In that case, I'll fix breakfast."

"Oh! Good," Aziraphale said with a smile. Crowley knew that his lover considered him a fabulous cook, although he was no slouch himself.

They lay together in silence for a while. Through the high, narrow window, Crowley could watch the winter sky fade to night. The days were still shortening, after all.

Soon, the steady, even breathing of the form in his arms tipped Crowley off that Aziraphale was asleep. He raised his head and called the angel's named softly, just to be sure, and got no response. A smile spread across his face. That was adorable! He dropped back onto his pillow, ready to dive straight into the waters of unconsciousness right after him, but then thought better of it. This was something he rarely got to see. So he propped himself up a bit on his pillow and just watched his lover sleep.

After a little under half an hour, Aziraphale stirred again. "Oh, I'm sorry," he said drowsily. "Where are my manners? I must have nodded right off."

"That's quite all right," Crowley said.

Aziraphale rolled over to face Crowley. "We should get up."

"Mmm," Crowley whined petulantly, putting his chin on Aziraphale's shoulder. "Do we have to?"

"I could make us hot cocoa and put on a movie," Aziraphale suggested.

"Oh! Well in that case..." Crowley said, practically springing up from the bed.

They collected their clothes in relative silence, from the chair and the floor respectively, and Crowley smiled to remember the brief discussions that had occurred about the clothing earlier. Once dressed, he took his sunglasses from the nightstand and hooked them on his shirt, remembering that he did not need to hide around Aziraphale.

Crowley walked back out into the shop, and stopped abruptly when he saw the writing desk. "Where are they?!"

"Where are what?" Aziraphale asked, rounding the corner from the hall with a blanket tucked under one elbow.

"Your feathers!" Crowley said. Instead of bright white angel-feathers, there were now plain brown duck feathers in the inkwell on the desk. "When I didn't see them back in your room, I assumed you'd sent them back out here."

"Well, I decided I didn't really need a constant reminder of Tadfield around anymore. And now...well, they seem a bit too personal to keep lying around, don't you think?"

Crowley wasn't so sure. Having that memento out in the open—perhaps walking over to the desk and fondling the feathers to distract Aziraphale while he was with a customer—actually sounded like his idea of a grand time. But he saw the angel's points, and they weren't Crowley's feathers, after all.

"Don't worry, I can get them back if I need them," Aziraphale said. "They're somewhere safe."

Something about the way the angel said the last word caused something to stir deep within Crowley. Once that passed, however, he blushed as he recalled feeling himself grow slick with pre-ejaculate even before he was in Aziraphale's mouth. Wherever the feathers were, he hoped there was dry-cleaning available.

There probably was.

"Now," Aziraphale said, "I'll make us the hot cocoa. Peppermint schnapps in yours?"

"Yes, please!"

Aziraphale hustled back to the hallway and into the door of the small kitchenette. He probably still had leftover stock of coffee, tea and cocoa, Crowley reasoned. His attempt earlier in the fall to open a coffee bar in the bookshop went best without mentioning.

Not quite ready to sit down, Crowley stood and took in the decorations again. The open gifts still lay on the coffee table, where he and Aziraphale had left them. With a shake of his head, Crowley thought to himself that that felt like ages ago.

Soon, Aziraphale emerged again, this time with two cups of cocoa. Crowley turned toward him, and his face lit up in a way that was out of proportion to the time they'd been apart or with his love for chocolate.

"Look!" he cried, pointing over Aziraphale's shoulder. "It's snowing!"

Aziraphale turned, and then his face lit up. Sure enough, there was a white, fluffy snowfall, visible against the darkness in the "lamplight" of the West End's seasonal light fixtures.

Old habits die hard. Crowley's infernal heart warmed to think of all the fender-benders, and the cranky calls to overworked claims agents already cranky themselves to be working on Saturday.

And, admittedly, it was pretty.

They both came to stand by the cash register, and watched the snow with the wonder of children they had never been.

After a while of this, they sat down on the couch in the community area. The TV and DVD player still weren't hooked together, and the DVD player may not have even been plugged in; but that never stopped anything from functioning as needed when Crowley was around.

Aziraphale had picked out It's a Wonderful Life, which was a bit of a holiday tradition for the two of them. Aziraphale liked the way that George Bailey learned that his ordinary life had been worth living, and the way that the whole community came together to save the day. Crowley appreciated the fact that that self-sacrificing sap, Bailey, had to be bailed out by his neighbors and still never got to travel the world.

Soon enough, though, Crowley began to nod off. Most likely the exertion, the post-carnal bliss, and the peppermint schnapps all finally caught up with him. Aziraphale smiled as the demon's head leaned over on his shoulder. He doubted that his partner's eyes seemed anything like those of Poe's raven right now, but then, it was hard to tell—they were closed.

Aziraphale tried not to wake Crowley as he pulled the blanket across both of them, but Crowley stirred anyway.

"Mm. Merry Christmas, Aziraphale," he murmured.

Aziraphale didn't miss a beat. "Happy Holidays, Crowley," he replied, with intentional humor but all sincerity.

Crowley chuckled softly, then nestled against Aziraphale and lapsed into sleep again.