The first Incident that Aziraphale could remember (and angels have exceptionally good memories) had been in 410 A.D. just before the Arrangement really fell into place. Crowley and Aziraphale had been gradually developing a comfortable working relationship over the last several thousand years, but they had not yet quite reached the level of trust required to hand over actual missions of temptation or blessing to the other. Aziraphale because he had a healthy skepticism of trusting a demon, Crowley for reasons of his own.
It had begun simply enough, with a call for help from a future bishop. "Lead me not into temptation and save me from the time of trial" was a prayer that was prayed many times every day around the world, in various languages. This particular call for help was from a man whom Aziraphale knew was destined to a great bishop, who would found a monastery which would preserve vital books and parchments through the Dark Ages – hence Aziraphale's intense personal interest. He decided to manifest directly into the man's mind, since he was inconveniently far away from Aziraphale's present physical location, and also because that would give him access to the man's mind and memories, allowing him to grasp immediately exactly what the problem (and possible solution) were.
The problem was immediately evident. The priest was gripping the seat of his straight-backed wooden chair hard enough to break fingernails. Probably because a young man was crying and trying to climb into his lap from between his knees. Clearly, something was not quite right about this "pastoral" encounter!
A quick review of the man's memories showed that it had all begun innocently enough. The young man had come to the priest's cell asking him to hear confession the night before a Communion service. The priest had donned his robe and stole, promised that all would be under the seal of the confessional, asked the young man to kneel and confess his sins.
This was where it had all begun to go wrong. The young man had knelt on the floor and put his clasped hands on the priest's knees. He had buried his face in his hands, incidentally allowing his breath to intermittently warm the priest's thighs through his woven robe. Then had come the "confession" which was not so much a litany of actual misdeeds, but a list of dark desires and lurid scenes which the youth was conjuring into the priest's mind with his words. The priest was first uncomfortable, then truly distressed for the young man's soul. Aziraphale marvelled at how long the youth had managed to conceal his obvious seductive intent. He had been able to work his hands almost up to the priest's waist, and insinuate his body between the priest's knees before he realized what was happening.
At the moment he did realize, he also knew that his position was utterly compromising and that the seduction was already well progressed. A certain heat and tightness were gathering in his lower body, and a fiery ache was starting in his long ignored groin. And yet his pastoral duty to a young man in spiritual distress, even now, held him immobile and prevented him from simply pushing the young man away. Hence his desperate prayer with enough power to call to Aziraphale from half a continent away.
Even as Aziraphale was busily shoring up the priest's willpower and trying to quench the incipient arousal before it could be detected, the boy seemed to realize that his prey was catching onto the scheme. With a burst of crocodile tears and gasps of "Father, father, help me, hold me safe from these terrible thoughts!" the younger man gave a twist of his hips and managed to bring his chest into direct contact with the priest's bulging groin. He threw his arms around the priest's neck and dragged his face down into a tear-stained kiss, all the while murmuring "Save me! Tell me that I am not evil! That I am worthy of love from a man of God such as yourself."
Aziraphale hissed with annoyance. This was a truly devilish temptation, striking to the heart not only of the priest's identity and duty as a representative of God's love, but also appealing to his protective instincts for the younger man and desire to help him. But to tell him that he was lovely would be to allow words and thoughts into the front of the priest's mind which had been long repressed, and such thoughts at such a moment, with a young man writhing on his lap, could only end one way.
A devilish temptation? Or could it be a demonic one? Aziraphale allowed himself to separate one strand of his awareness from the priest's situation to examine the young man, who was now rubbing himself up and down the priest's body, pressing their chests together as he tried to kiss him again. The young man was definitely human, not an incubus as Aziraphale had first feared. That made the problem both easier to manage (as the boy could be distracted or separated from his infernal influence) but more delicate, since a human could not simply be dismissed to the nether regions.
Speaking of nether regions, the priest was becoming acutely physically aroused, and boy knew it. Like a snake, he darted back down to the floor and lifted the priest's robe. He was actually sliding his hands up the priest's bare thighs under the wool when Aziraphale stunned him into sleep. He slumped to the floor in a small crumpled heap between the priest's feet.
The future bishop gasped and sighed with relief, and finally managed to unlatch his fingers from the rungs of the chair. Aziraphale noted with interest that his resistance to the boy's charms had lasted, even as his body betrayed its response. Cruel torture it had been for him, but he had held back from taking what he wanted from the boy with every fibre of his mental and physical strength. Aziraphale darted quickly through his mind and body, slowing his heart rate, soothing the raw, ragged edges of his emotions, settling his thoughts back into the familiar tracks suitable to a spiritual father. As a final touch, he planted the idea that the boy had been having some kind of fit – an explanation which meshed perfectly with the final result of the boy falling suddenly and inexplicably asleep. He also hinted to the priest that the boy might not recall anything of this event when he awoke. Checking the boy's mind also, Aziraphale was unsurprised to see that his memories had already been wiped. He had a feeling he knew whose modus operandi this was…
The only part of the whole Incident which qualified it for a capital letter was the way scenes from it kept intruding into Aziraphale's consciousness. They weren't exactly fantasies, because angels don't fantasize. They weren't dreams either, because angels don't sleep. And he wasn't exactly titillated because angels don't have ti… He cut off the ridiculous line of thought. He was just worried about the priest's future career and influence, that was all. It was completely baffling that the moment which kept flashing across his memory was when he was fully manifested in the priest's mind. That necessarily involved experiencing the burgeoning arousal that the man had been feeling, even as he looked through him into the boy's eyes and thinking they looked like yellow demon's eyes. Familiar demon's eyes, glowing with lust…
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Aziraphale returned to his very absorbing job of building up the church in preparation for the dark ages and spent the next hundred years doing it with patchy success. He felt sure some of his carefully planted and nurtured monasteries would survive as beacons of knowledge and enlightenment in a dark age. He felt darkly certain that others would not.
There had been a particularly close call in 538. The Gothic war had been ongoing for so long that even the most tireless warriors in the Lord's service were starting to become jaded and cynical. War, murder, pillage and… er… everything that went with it, meant that even the most pure-hearted saint had a mind full of unsavoury images. It wasn't difficult for demons to stir up despair, reckless actions and wildly destructive impulses in those who were surrounded by them every day.
The fall of Mediolanum had been such a scene. The city had been besieged for nearly a decade and when it finally fell even God's own soldiers had been intoxicated with a heady mix of victory and near-terminal exhaustion. They rampaged through the town looting and burning for most of the night before settling into a sated sleep as the morning dawned.
One of the generals was sitting in his tent outside the city, after refusing to participate in the murder of civilians. He rested in his camp chair with his arm flung over his eyes, as if trying to shut out the sound of the town being razed to bare earth. He was brought back to himself by a tentative touch on his knee, and his valet murmuring "a petitioner to see you, my lord".
He pushed himself wearily upright in his chair, and waved permission for the messenger to approach. He frowned at the young man standing in front of him.
"It is too late to save the city, or for any other negotiation. Go back and defend your home," he croaked harshly at the pale and frightened face before him.
The boy ducked his head a little, "I know that, my lord. I came to offer you a service, in return for protection for my mother and sister."
"Your city has precious little to offer, or you would have given it up already. There is barely any food and nothing else worth having." The general snorted contemptuously.
The boy raised his head and stiffened his spine at the general's insulting tone. "I am told that I have what many men desire. Real men and warriors, that is." The boys tone was insolent, almost a taunting sing-song.
The general felt a trickle of a devilish thought enter his mind. "Very well, show me what you have to offer. If I like it, I'll take it. Then we talk afterwards about what it was worth." He sneered at the boy's transparent bravado.
The boy, realizing this was only bargain he was going to be offered, bowed his head in acquiescence and started to strip. He peeled off his grimy helmet, shrugged out of his layers of nondescript cloth which probably wasn't wool although it smelled like a long-dead sheep. The material fell away from his shoulders to pool around his feet, and the young man stepped daintily out of the folds and sank down to kneel before the general, who was still seated on his stool.
The general was by now sitting up straight with interest, and Crowley stirred in the back of his mind. This young man reminded him of someone. Blond curls, classical good looks, chiseled symmetrical form. David? Not exactly. Too old for a cherub, though the pouting lips looked just as kissable. An almost angelic look, that reminded him oddly of… no, not possible.
At Crowley's prompting, the general clapped his hands and the valet appeared in the tent opening. The boy shivered at the cold draft from behind him, but did not otherwise move. "Fetch me a basin of warm water. I wish to wash… my hands. And bring me a fresh blanket too. I don't want…" his eyes wandered suggestively up and down the messenger's bare body. "…anything to get chilled." The valet drew a hissing breath of disapproval, but disappeared as soon as the general looked up sharply. Drawing the general's attention when he was in the mood to play was a bad idea. As that boy, whoever he was, was about to find out.
When the bowl of water arrived, the boy was told curtly to wash and make himself ready for his master. The general loosened his own clothing in preparation. Now that the scenario was playing itself out, Crowley usually left the players to it. He was a demon, but he had his standards. Voyeurism wasn't one of his besetting sins… usually. There was just something about the boy… With a mental shrug, Crowley gave in to temptation – resisting temptation was hardly a virtue in a demon, after all – and settled into the back of the man's mind to watch.
The boy was shivering by the time the makeshift bath was complete. "Dry off on the blanket and wrap yourself in it and come back to kneel in front of me," the general ordered. The boy did as he was bid, turning his face up to the older man. The general examined him at his leisure. Compact build, wiry rather than bulky. Probably a knife fighter from the scars on his arms and the fact that he had survived so long. Smart then, and quick on his feet. At the moment the boy had none of that tension which one warrior recognizes instantly in another. The boy was at rest, pliant, submissive, not waiting to spring into action and attack, even if he had access to a weapon which he manifestly did not. Satisfied, the general stood up and commanded the young man, "Remove my armour and clothing."
The boy silently got to work, deft fingers delicately unlacing and loosening straps while keeping his touch as light and minimal as possible on the soldier's skin. The harness of hardened leather fell away, the body armour and the material underneath dropped piece by piece to the floor, revealing a hard soldier's body, lean and fit, but slightly too thin after a long and arduous campaign. The general casually reclined back in his chair. "Come closer and kiss me," he grated, "You look like you know how to do it." He nodded meaningfully at his groin, where his interest and intent were becoming obvious.
Crowley extended more of his awareness into the general's mind and body. Since he had got used to physical corporation he had discovered that he liked sex, and as a demon he had no qualms about using those he was tempting for his own enjoyment. He settled comfortably into the general's skin and allowed his eyes to rest on the earnestly bobbing head of the young man working his mouth over the general's hardening member.
As if feeling his gaze, the young man looked up and blue eyes met yellow. Crowley gazed into the round blue eyes above the industriously working rosebud mouth. Those eyes that reminded him so much of… then the eyes widened and lips inadvertently smiled a little, even stretched as they were around the enormous erection between them. Crowley could almost feel the general's climax rising from deep within – when he was stabbed through the heart with a knife from behind.
In the double shock of thwarted orgasm and the death throes of his host, Crowley panicked. The general's body flailed backwards and fell off the stool to lie giving his last shallow gasps of breath on the floor of the tent. The boy leaped to his feet and whirled around to snatch up the general's own belt with its knife sheath. Spinning and drawing with an elegance which was as graceful as it was deadly, even (or especially) though he was completely naked. The boy plunged the knife into the general's – Crowley's – heart, lungs and finally throat. The general's eyes closed for the last time, and Crowley could hear and feel the death rattle in his chest. He thrashed around in the dark, desperate to escape the host body before it finally died and banished him back to hell, embarrassingly discorporated.
The eyes were already closed, and the vibrations from the last heart beat fading away, when Crowley felt himself lifted. His essence was carefully untangled from the soul of the almost dead man. Before his sight returned, he felt the displacement that wasn't exactly movement but signified a shift across the astral plane. He forced his eyes open to find himself gathered in the arms, and held against the breast of his very own guardian angel. Soft white wings enfolded him, blue eyes gazed down at him – and he finally allowed himself to faint.
# # # # # # # #
Crowley awoke on a bedroll in a tent, with a splitting headache and an even more distracting knowledge of an unsolvable problem. Several thousand years of self-awareness make one disinclined to self-deception. Crowley knew exactly what he wanted – just not how to get it. Angels were immune to temptation, almost by definition. How does a demon seduce an angel?
Aziraphale's voice floated into the tent from outside, "Dear boy, you needn't pretend to still be sleeping. But if you insist on pretending that you are experiencing the effects of having a corporeal body, I think you'd feel better if you came out and fed it something."
Crowley slithered out of the bedroll and slunk across the tent to peer out the flap. Aziraphale had a cheery cook-fire going and was toasting bread. He waved one elegant white hand without turning around. "Sit down, my dear, luncheon is almost ready. Help yourself to honey." Crowley noted a small pot set conveniently close to the fire to allow it to soften.
Aziraphale turned and handed over a piece of toast, and Crowley noted that the crust had been cut off. He reached for the honey pot, just as it pressed itself into his hands. He extruded a claw to spread the honey and noticed Aziraphale smother a wince. "How did you find me?" he asked softly.
Aziraphale turned back to his toasting, fixing his eyes on the fire. "I was watching… over you, of course," he said, very, very casually. "The gothic wars are a dangerous place, even for an accomplished tempter such as yourself. The sack of Mediolanum involved the deaths of so many people that I knew you would be here, and of course I needed to watch…" again that little pause, "in case anyone called for angelic assistance at the last moment."
"Well, I owe you one," Crowley admitted.
Aziraphale waved a hand nonchalantly, "Nothing to it, my dear boy, nothing at all. Angels have a duty to rescue you know. See if I can tempt you back to Our side, and all that." He turned back to the fire and said without turning around, "You can have the tent to yourself for any more recovery time you might need. I plan to have one more pass through the city before the fires die down, see if anyone is still alive down there." A sad expression crossed his beautiful face, and for once his perennially youthful features showed strain around the eyes. Suddenly, it was possible to believe that those eyes had seen thousands of years of human pain, suffering and evil.
"Actually," said Crowley diffidently, "I don't feel at all well. I think I'll go and lie down for a bit. Snakes get sore necks very easily you know – it's where we store our tension." He reached around and massaged the back of his own neck. "I don't suppossssse," he swallowed and tried to bring the hissing back under control. "I don't suppose you might have a moment to rub out some of the knots before you go?" He congratulated himself on controlling his voice completely the second time around. No hint of begging in the undertones, no way, no how.
Something flared in Aziraphale's eyes before he turned away, "Afraid this is not really a good time, dear chap. Fires in the city, civilians dying and all that… You know, you could just miracle it away if you concentrated hard enough."
Crowley shrugged. "It just never feels right doing it that way. Like the knots are hidden but still there, you know? Anyway, my work here is done so I can take some time to sleep it off." He made his way back into the tent, straining all his senses to what was happening behind his back. Aziraphale shifted from foot to foot, sighed, then headed down to the smoking remains of the city.
Crowley retired to the tent to think very interesting thoughts. So, Aziraphale was watching him, was he? For an angel, there was a big difference between "watching over" and just "watching". And his choice of moments to be watching was also most instructive. The hesitation outside the tent was even more revealing. Angels were creatures of conscience and duty. If Aziraphale had hesitated even for a moment, then the temptation to remain must have been very strong.
All these tiny clues led to the inescapable conclusion that Aziraphale wanted to be tempted by Crowley, but how? How? For an angel to give in to temptation was to fall, and Crowley wanted an angel for his lover, not another demon. Even more, he did not want to change Aziraphale. He… wanted to fuck him. Crowley was a demon, so he did not let his thoughts approach that subject any closer. Demons don't fall in love any more than angels fall into temptation. He snorted and turned over in the bedroll. What a pair they would make!