Crazy Little Thing (Called Love) - Hermiola (2024)

It takes a while for the silence to catch up with Crowley. When he finally realises the rustle of pages has stopped, he lifts his eyes from the game he’s been mindlessly playing on his phone just to find Aziraphale perched on his armchair, staring at him with a weird look on his face.

This could mean a number of things. The angel is either feeling peckish, unnecessarily fussing about what to read next or contemplating the meaninglessness of life.

If Crowley was the kind of demon willing to have open-hearted conversations about his hereditary enemy, he’d probably say that Aziraphale’s criteria to differentiate between trifles and matters of life and death make no sense whatsoever, and that the angel’s unpredictability is one of the things he likes most about him.

But Crowley is not that kind of demon and he never will be, and when it comes to said hereditary enemy, he’s only willing to drink alcohol, sow (harmless) mischief to Aziraphale’s great annoyance, and claim the sofa he’s currently sprawled on as his own (but only in the sanctuary of his own head, thank you very much).

However that may be, Crowley knows the angel will come out with it sooner or later, so he goes back to crushing candies for what feels like an hour or maybe two. You know what, he really doesn’t dislike lazy afternoons in the bookshop, you could almost say he lov–

“Crowley.”

Ah, there it is.

“I would like to ask you something,” Aziraphale says primly, voice tight.

Crowley huffs and groans, aiming for as inconvenienced as possible, then puts his phone away and collects his limbs to rearrange himself in a more or less sitting position. Which, by the way, is no easy feat. In the wake of the Apocalypse that wasn’t and the many hours spent lazing about in the bookshop, the sofa has basically taken his shape and now it’s so comfy it borders on downright sinful.

“Alright, let’s hear it.”

If all this pomp is about the Sachertorte from the new bistrot they went to last week, Crowley might lose his mind.

Aziraphale, who’s not thinking about Sachertorte at all, clears his throat, then stands up and straightens his bowtie with an air of solemnity that almost manages to convince Crowley that yes, this is definitely about Sachertorte.

“I was thinking that it’s been quite some time since I’ve tried something new, you see,” Aziraphale starts to say, reciting the speech he’s been repeating to himself for hours, days, weeks. Oh, who is he kidding, probably more like centuries. “You know that I have a, erm, penchant for experiencing human things for myself, and that I haven’t since that awfully unpleasant business with the pandemic. Make no mistake, I’ll admit that my baking efforts were… erm, let’s just say that they left something to be desired.”

This is even worse than Crowley originally thought. Is the angel trying to ask his help to bake a Sachertorte? Is this why he doesn’t seem to be able to look Crowley in the eye?

“Anyway, I was wondering if you’d maybe like, if you wouldn’t mind of course, to, to help me try something new, as it were, as you did countless times before,” he goes on, wringing his hands and glancing everywhere but in Crowley’s direction. “If not, it’s completely fine, I understand. I certainly wouldn’t want to put you out on my account, I know you’re very busy—”

“Are you getting to something resembling a point anytime soon?” Crowley interjects before the rambling can go on any longer. Will he or won’t he need to browse the internet for a cool kitchen apron?

Aziraphale opens his eyes, looking startled and even slightly irritated by the interruption, so focused on the carpet between his feet that he forgot he was actually making the speech to Crowley this time.

“Oh, right, of course. What I was meaning to ask you is— Oh dear.” Aziraphale closes his eyes as if in pain and keeps talking without opening them again. “What I meant is, is… would you like to go out with me? On… on a…”

He pauses and then seems to stop breathing altogether, and it must be a very weird trick born of habit and proximity because Crowley suddenly finds it very hard to breathe as well, his heart freezing in his chest. Try as he may, he can’t even convince his eyes to leave the angel to look for his sunglasses, discarded somewhere as soon as he stepped into the bookshop. If only he knew where, he has a feeling he’s going to need them in just a few seconds.

Because Aziraphale can’t actually be suggesting what Crowley infers he’s implying… Satan bless it, he can’t even bring himself to think the thought without discorporating on the spot. It’s like looking at the sun — warm and majestic, but also blinding and kind of painful.

“Ngk. On a what?” he chokes out, because there can be no room for error here.

Aziraphale blinks, his gaze finally finding Crowley, then opens and closes his mouth multiple times before whispering: “On a date.”

On second thought, discorporation doesn’t sound that terrible at the moment. Is there such a thing as a localised discorporation? Because Crowley’s brain may have just turned itself to dust. Maybe he should just take the Bentley and drive straight into the sun. Literally.

“Which date?” he asks dumbly, hands desperately itching for his sunglasses. He’d break eye-contact and look for them if he didn’t suspect he was hallucinating the whole thing. “Like… like a specific day?”

Aziraphale’s expression, a heady mix of hopeful and anxious, melts once again into haughty annoyance.

“Goodness gracious, no. I meant on a date. Like… like, you know, romantically,” he clarifies, fidgeting. “With another person.”

Whatever excitement Crowley was starting to feel, whatever hope was blooming in his chest at the idea that they were finally taking the next step after holding hands that one time years ago, dies a very sudden, very depressing death. An inexplicable relief and a very familiar disappointment wash over him, leaving him dizzy. He feels an impossible urge to lie down and take whatever’s coming for him next horizontally, but he doesn’t. He sits up impossibly, painfully straight instead.

“You want my help to go on a date?”

Aziraphale beams, nerves finally giving way to something dangerously close to excitement, and yes, Crowley would like to lie down and die now.

“Well, in a manner of speaking… yes. You see, I realised the other day,” but more like a few decades ago, “that I’ve never been on one.”

“Of course you haven’t, why would you?” Crowley asks harshly and almost unkindly, guilt waiting for him just around the corner and blood roaring in his ears.

It doesn’t occur to either of them that they have been on countless dates, probably more than any other beings who’ve ever walked the Earth.

And in each other’s company, no less.

Aziraphale, who missed this little detail but not the shift in Crowley’s mood, is quite ready to backtrack, his pleased smile already wiped off his face. It’s not like he didn’t know this was a terrible, awful, preposterous idea. Honestly, he doesn’t even know what came over him in the first place. He should have just asked Crowley out to dinner and then insinuate it had been a date all along right before saying goodnight, just as he originally planned.

“If you don’t want to, you don’t have to, of course,” he amends quickly, so aggravated by his own idiocy that he ends up saying what he’s actually thinking. “Oh dear, I knew it was a bad idea, it’s just that you’re much more comfortable with these modern things than I am and so I thought…”

Thankfully, Crowley shuts him up before Aziraphale has a chance to inadvertently talk himself to eternal damnation or something equally unpleasant, like sheer honesty.

“I’ll do it,” he says through his teeth, eyes huge and impossibly golden. After this, he’s going to have his sunglasses surgically attached to his face.

“Really? You’ll do it?” And there it is again, the angel’s beaming smile, made even more charming by the pink blush dusting his cheeks.

The only reason preventing Crowley from miracling his shades on, or himself in the safety of the Bentley, is that it would look too suspicious. Aziraphale wouldn’t stop asking questions and Crowley would crack, and then throw a fit and announce his imminent departure for Alpha Centauri.

No, he has to keep his cool, act as unbothered as possible and pray his eyes won’t give him away.

“Myeah. Why would I ever pass up the chance to see you make a tit of yourself in front of a human? It’s going to be hysterical,” he says, making a valiant attempt at nonchalance only to somersault straight towards unnecessary rudeness.

Aziraphale frowns, his bright smile dimming in the blink of an eye. “Beg your pardon?”

“You want me to help you score a date, right?”

The angel stares at him in open-mouthed astonishment. Because no, that’s not what he meant at all, and the misunderstanding is so laughable Aziraphale’s just about to clear it up when Crowley’s words suddenly register.

At which point he purses his lips with the air of a disappointed Victorian schoolmaster who’s so affronted he may just start to cry.

Either way, what really matters here is that it’s not a misunderstanding after all. Apparently, someone thinks the idea of going on a date with Aziraphale is so ludicrous he can’t entertain it even for a second without assuming he meant to go with another person entirely. So much for holding hands on a bus!

“And why, pray tell, would I make a tit of myself, as you so eloquently put?”

“Because you’re an angel and angels don’t go on dates.” Not if I can help it, Crowley thinks moodily. He hates being rude to Aziraphale, but if he tries to be anything else, he’ll be the one making a tit of himself by bursting into tears on the demon-shaped sofa he now thinks as his own. And no, his attachment to this stupid piece of furniture has nothing to do with Aziraphale or the fact that he’s been practically homeless for years now.

“Angels aren’t supposed to do a lot of the things I do,” Aziraphale retorts, squaring his shoulders and lifting his chin almost defiantly.

Despite the horrible blow suffered by his ego, Crowley can’t help the delighted smile stretching his lips. “My, my. Are you saying you’re a bad angel?”

The thought is enough to send Aziraphale into a tizzy.

“Oh, you absolute fiend,” he scolds the demon, blushing furiously. “I’m saying that… as a former emissary of Heaven here on Earth it is my responsibility to experience human things as a way to better perform my duties.”

“Oh, thank Someone. For a moment there I thought you discovered self-awareness.”

“Very funny.”

“Not as funny as the idea of you going on a date.” With someone else, he adds, but only to himself. This day has already gone to sh*t enough as it is.

Aziraphale gives him a strained smile. “It won’t be funny if you help me as you said you would. Or have you changed your mind already?” Good Lord, Aziraphale hopes he has. He doesn’t want to go on a date with a human, and in front of Crowley no less! He’d rather send a 500-page report to Gabriel at this point.

“Oi! I don’t help people,” Crowley corrects him gruffly, finger wagging in the air. “And I definitely don’t help angels.”

“Oh, I would never presume.”

“What I’m going to do is come along to nudge you towards the path of sin thanks to my extensive expertise on human behaviour.” And to commit to memory the face of the poor bugger he’ll personally torment till the end of time. He’s not even going to wait for them to end up in Hell first, he’ll just start straight away. He’s going to give the phrase “Hell on Earth” a whole new meaning, just you wait and see.

Aziraphale winces. “Goodness.”

“So, when are we going?” No point in delaying the inevitable, is there?

“I believe it is customary to go out on the weekend?”

“Of course, I knew that. Glad to see you’re not completely oblivious, angel. The weekend it is. I’ll pick you up at eight.”

Crowley may be a lot of things — an unappreciated genius, a fallen angel, the former Serpent of Eden, the person-shaped embodiment of the word cool — but he’s definitely not an idiot, and he’s certainly never prepared for something the way he’s prepared to “assist” (but more like sabotage) Aziraphale’s so-called date.

He came up with a foolproof plan and he’s going to enact it step by step until Aziraphale resigns himself to a date-less eternity, unless…

But no, it doesn’t bear thinking, especially not right now, shrunk down as he is and standing on Aziraphale’s shoulder like a demon in a cartoon, and since the evening’s theme is doing stupid things for absolutely no reason at all, that’s exactly what gave him the idea in the first place.

“Are you sure no one will see you?” Aziraphale whispers, slightly turning his head towards him before reminding himself that the last three times he did that Crowley almost plummeted to his rather inconvenient discorporation.

“Of course I am. I told you, I’m invisible.”

You should know that better than anyone. I’m right here and yet, you didn’t even think about asking me out on a date, he thinks as the resentment-free demon he prides himself to be.

“Now stop worrying about me and take a look around. Tell me if you see anyone you don’t… dislike.” He says it with a sneer and a glare so venomous it could strike down an elephant.

Aziraphale can’t see him but can definitely feel the demonic energy crackling in the air.

“Crowley, dear, are you sure you’re up for this? We can always go back to the bookshop and drink our way through my wine collection instead,” he says as hopeful as can be.

Not only would Aziraphale very much like to go home before managing to make an actual tit of himself, but he’s also noticed that Crowley is acting weird.

First he insisted on taking him out to dinner to an Argentinian restaurant and wouldn’t let them leave until Aziraphale had finished the chimichurri he apparently had to try — “The review said it was the best in town,” Crowley kept saying and, well, he was right, but it was strange to see him get so excited about sauces of all things — and now this.

The last time Crowley was this size, things went from bad to worse really quickly and they stayed like that for over a century. Unfortunately, to Aziraphale’s dismay, the demon doesn’t seem to be sharing his worries.

“No, I said I’d do it and I’ll do it,” Crowley insists.

And he’s going to stick to his guns even if he has to cry himself to sleep for the next century or so, which is exactly what he’ll do as soon as they’re done here, regardless of the outcome. He’ll just have to convince the Bentley to behave — she hates having him around all the time…

“Don’t chicken out on me, angel,” he adds absentmindedly, trying to determine who among the leather-clad people populating the club is going to become his designated victim for the foreseeable future.

For all his fidgeting, Aziraphale can’t help but take it very personally. Pride is the only reason he’s here, and pride is a sin, which says a lot about his current state of mind. But, you see, if Crowley really came along in the hopes of seeing Aziraphale make a spectacle of himself, then he’ll just have to be the least entertaining spectacle ever. And not to toot his own horn, but he was almost booed off a stage in the West End once, so he knows exactly what he’s about.

So he scans the crowd in the impossibly dimly lit establishment Crowley has chosen. There seems to be a rétro-occult-equestrian theme going on, with vintage mirrors, hunting crops on the flowery wallpaper, Tiffany lampshades and small polished tables with candles and glowing crystal spheres on them. It reminds Aziraphale of Madame Tracy’s boudoir.

However, despite his best intentions, it doesn’t take long for the angel to lose his nerve.

(It’s also worth mentioning that it doesn’t occur to either of them that picking up a random human in a bar hardly qualifies as a date.)

“You choose,” he says to Crowley after a few more seconds of nervous perusal. There are so many things he’d rather be doing with his evening. “I’m not picky.”

Apparently, unbeknownst to Aziraphale, this is the joke of the century, because Crowley barks out a shrill laugh and almost loses his balance by bending in half with his hands on his knobbly knees.

A sprinkle of angelic intervention, as well as Aziraphale’s judgement practically pinning him to his shoulder, ensures the demon doesn’t unceremoniously crash to the floor like a doll possessed.

“Really, now,” Aziraphale tuts.

“Wot? ‘s a good joke, is all.”

“You’re being very annoying.”

“Thank you for noticing. Now, would you please choose one of these poor sods? I haven’t got all night.” Actually, he has, but one thing’s for sure, he’s not going to be the architect of his own demise.

While Aziraphale calculates how attached he is to his own dignity, his eyes land on an elegantly dressed man sitting by himself at a corner table.

“I don’t know… that one?”

Crowley, who’s now holding on to one of Aziraphale’s curls, stiffens up and almost manifests his displeasure by pulling the angel’s hair. “Blondie with the eyeliner? Wha— He looks like a tossssser.”

The man is wearing a black suit and some kind of leather waistcoat over a crisp blood-red shirt, jacket discarded on the back of the chair.

“He’s quite fetching, don’t you think? I like that… three belted thingy he’s wearing. Very modern.” In fact, Aziraphale thinks Crowley could pull it off way better than this gentleman.

The demon mumbles something unintelligible and checks his phone, browser open on an article titled How to Attract a Man’s Attention (With Pictures) by Marjorie P. Shadwell.

Though Beelzebub never quite agreed with him, Crowley firmly believes that WikiHow is some of the best demonic work he’s ever done. Well, joke’s on the Prince of Hell, because Crowley’s just about to use it to sabotage Aziraphale’s ridiculous date with this random bloke who’ll need to thank his lucky stars if he manages to leave this club still in one piece.

Talk about reaping the benefits of his own genius… ha!

It’s a perfect plan, he has thought of everything. He’s going to follow the article and advise the angel to do the exact opposite of whatever it says. First step is to make sure Aziraphale doesn’t — well, does— have food stuck between his teeth. Let’s hope that chimichurri did its job or Crowley will tour the world to terrorise parsley all over the globe.

“Let me check your teeth first.”

“Why on earth would you need to check my teeth?”

“Humans love dirty teeth.”

“That sounds… wrong. Are you quite sure?”

“They hate bad breath, but secretly love dirty teeth. It’s all the rage now.”

“Well, they would have loved the Middle Ages then,” Aziraphale muses. “Though teeth were quite hard to come by back then.” And good breath even more so, now that he thinks about it.

Crowley huffs and pulls Aziraphale’s curl again, to the angel’s great vexation (citation needed). “Slowly turn around and show me your teeth.”

“Well, alright. But stop pulling my hair.”

No less than three pieces of parsley. Perfect.

Aziraphale, who has already elected to do the exact opposite of whatever Crowley will say in order to also sabotage the date and get this over with as quickly as possible, turns away from the demon and spends a little miracle to make sure his pearly whites are absolutely pristine.

“Now smile at him,” Crowley instructs him.

“He’s not even looking my way.”

Another quick miracle, of a demonic nature this time, and the man has eyes only for the angel.

“Done,” Crowley sneers. Wait a second — didn’t he just say he wasn’t going to be the architect of his own demise?

Aziraphale attempts a smile hoping it comes out more like a grimace than anything else, but he’s an angel and he’s using all of his focus to tamp down the sudden urge to punish Crowley’s impatience by unceremoniously flicking him off his shoulder, so the end result is quite blinding nonetheless.

“Now stare at him as long as possible,” Crowley continues, scrolling through the WikiHow article like a mad man.

“What? Isn’t that creepy?”

“No, humans love the attention. Are you doing that? The staring?”

“Yes, of course,” Aziraphale says, avoiding the man’s gaze as much as possible. It’s not like Crowley can see what he’s doing anyway…

“You’re clearly doing it wrong because he seems inter— I mean, uninteresssted.”

“I think he’s looking at me,” Aziraphale contradicts him, panic lacing his voice. He really wants to go home now. “Good Lord, is he beckoning me to his table?”

“Seems like it. Whatever happens, don’t smile. That never works.”

“But you just said…”

“It’s how humans court each other, are you going to trust me or not?” Crowley scolds him so brusquely that Aziraphale doesn’t feel like pointing out that he’s read enough romance books to have at least a faint idea of what human courtship rituals look like. But he also doesn’t want to look stupid and no matter how much he enjoys it, fiction is just fiction. Not to mention that Crowley probably knows everything there is to know about sins of a lustful nature…

Though, now that Aziraphale really thinks about it, that may be just wishful thinking on his part. After all, he does think an awful lot of Crowley whenever he reads anything even remotely romance-adjacent. Or anything else for that matter.

So he clasps his hands and puts on the most beatific smile in his arsenal, which backfires spectacularly, because it only results in the elegant stranger gesturing for Aziraphale to join him once more.

“Oh, no.”

“Calm down, angel. I’m right here, you’re going to be fine.” Too bad he can’t say the same about this idiot with the platinum blond hair and the leather harness, which looks annoyingly good on that shirt.

And while Crowley isn’t aware of the genuinely helpful note he unwittingly infused in his voice, it definitely doesn’t escape Aziraphale’s notice. So much so that the angel is abruptly overcome by the sudden urge to grab Crowley in his hand and quite literally shake some sense into him. Would it kill him to act like a proper demon for once and do everything in his power to thwart this madness? What’s preventing him from understanding what Aziraphale actually wants despite the angel telling him otherwise?

But it’s too late now, and when the stranger renews his invitation, Aziraphale finds himself walking towards him like a convicted man going to his death.

“Hello,” he says, using his customer-service-voice, a tasteful mixture of firm, bitchy and polite he’s been tuning up for well over a century.

“Hello, beautiful.” The stranger has a deep, pleasant voice and a rakish smile, and Crowley immediately wants to throw up. “Take a seat, please.”

“Oh, I’m not sure it’s such a good idea…”

“Come on, I’ll buy you a drink. Whatever you want.”

Crowley is appalled. That’s his line. He squawks like the cranky parrot perched on the shoulder of the least threatening pirate you could think of, and he frantically checks the WikiHow article for something, anything that can help him put a stop to this travesty. Step four is about having killer legs and crossing and uncrossing them to attract attention. Which is not only unhelpful, but also terrible, because Aziraphale has the best thighs in the world and this bloke is not going to put his eyes (or anything else for that matter) on them.

The table conveniently grows a tablecloth that reaches down to the floor, hiding Aziraphale’s lower half from prying eyes.

“What’s your name?” the man asks.

“Aziraphale,” he says breathlessly, hands smoothing down his thighs to soothe himself.

“I’m Santiago.” Great, any chance he could take a page from his saintly namesake and take a long, long walk to Spain? “What’s your poison, Aziraphale?”

“Oh, I-I’m not sure…”

Crowley jumps on the table right then and stalks around the crystal ball to give the man — Santiago, apparently — a closer look. Aziraphale stares at the pocket-size demon and is once again brought back to a foggy Scottish graveyard.

“Laudanum, maybe?” he squeaks.

Santiago laughs and Crowley wants to strangle him.

“Tell you what, I’ll improvise. Wait here, I’ll be back in a second.”

Crowley checks his ridiculously expensive wristwatch right away. “Well, he’s clearly a liar. A second has already passed and he hasn’t come back yet,” he scoffs. “I wouldn’t trust him.”

“I believe that’s a figure of speech, Crowley.”

Which is the wrong thing to say, because Crowley looks just about ready to burst into flames.

“You can’t be serious, he looks like… like… He looks like a demon.” Or at least what a demon could look like if they weren’t all so committed to being absolutely repulsive.

“Well, there is something to be said about devilish handsome…” Men? Male shaped immortal beings? “People.” Aziraphale practically coined the expression and he certainly wasn’t thinking about Hastur when he did.

“Oh, I’m pretty sure we have two very different devils in mind then,” he spits back, reminding himself to be cool and relax. “Plus, he’s just a baby.”

Santiago comes back right then with two drinks in hand. “Here you go. It’s sherry. Sorry, they were all out of laudanum.”

“That was quick,” Aziraphale says, not bothering to hide his disappointment, both for Santiago’s promptness and (correct) choice of drink.

“The bartender let me skip the line because it’s my birthday today. I’m turning sixty.”

“See?!” Crowley furiously points to the man. “A literal toddler! I’m surprised he can even walk by himself.”

While Aziraphale wishes Santiago a happy birthday and makes inane small talk about something or other, Crowley skims the WikiHow article for inspiration. Admittedly, things aren’t going as smoothly as he'd hoped.

Step 6: Hang out with one or two close friends. f*ck, he’s played himself once again! But wait, it says here the wing-women in question should make themselves scarce at some point, and he’s not going to leave Aziraphale’s side if his own life depended on it (and, if you think about it, it kind of does).

He scrolls down to the second part of the article and that’s when he feels his stomach sink.

Be yourself. Show off your intelligence. Don’t be afraid to laugh. Talk about something you’re passionate about.

Maybe they should have titled this “How To Attract a Demon (With Pictures)”, because every single item of the list conjures up an image of Aziraphale doing just that. Bless it all, he should have read it more carefully instead of fixating on that first picture looking just like Aziraphale.

Luckily, though, not everything is lost because, to Crowley’s estimations, Aziraphale’s particular brand of charm won’t work on just anyone (in fact, if you ask him, it shouldn’t have worked on him either. Talk about ineff— nope, nevermind).

This is trickier than he thought, he’ll have to veer off course.

“Try and talk to him about… bookbinding. Be as detailed as possible.”

“Bookbinding?” Aziraphale whispers while Santiago goes on about his friends ditching him to go home early.

“Yes, he’s going to love it.” Especially if he has trouble sleeping at night. Nothing better than Aziraphale droning on about his centuries-old obsessions to sleep soundly and mould sofas to one’s shape.

“Is everything alright?” Santiago asks him, having noticed his distraction.

“W-well… I love… b-binding,” Aziraphale stammers out, caught off guard.

“Binding?” Against all expectations, Santiago seems interested, his eyes sparkling for no apparent reason.

“Y-yes.”

“Do you prefer to be the one doing it? Or the other way around?” Santiago asks, before taking a sip of his drink. “You don’t have to answer if it makes you uncomfortable, but since you went straight to the point. And, well, you’re here, aren’t you?”

“I’m usually the one doing it.” He’s not sure what the other way around means, though one could certainly say his books have bound him to the bookshop many a time.

“How fascinating. I would never have guessed.”

“That’s… nice to hear.” Is it though? What are they even talking about and why does he have the impression he’s missing a crucial piece of information?

In the meantime, Crowley is seriously thinking about climbing into the man’s throat and strangling him from the inside. It’s going to be hot and wet but also incredibly satisfying.

“I’ve never tried it myself,” Santiago goes on. “But I’ve always been… let’s say curious about this stuff, that's why I wanted to come here tonight. A good friend recommended it, she’s been trying to get me to come here for ages. And what the Hell! I’m turning sixty, is there a better time to try new things?”

Yes, Crowley thinks. Any other Aziraphale-free time would have been perfect.

“That’s what I said!” the angel cries out delightedly, forgetting all about his woes in the face of a like-minded individual. Sixty or six thousand years, it makes no difference. This is precisely the reason he wanted to go on a date with Crowley in the first place! Or, well, the alternative reason he came up with to hide the real one, which is too straightforward to even consider. “Perhaps I could show you how. I’m a bit of an expert, if I may say so myself. Sometimes I even get paid to do it. It’s one of those trades that are sadly disappearing.”

“Really? I thought it was catching on.”

Crowley is about to lose whatever’s left of his mind. Why is this wanker so interested in bookbinding? It doesn’t make any sense! If you don’t count the angel’s eyes lighting up like literal stars whenever he waxes poetic about it, it would be the most boring topic of conversation ever conceived.

Fortunately for all involved, a woman dressed in nothing but strips of leather walks up to the table to exchange a few words with Santiago.

Blinded by his rage, Crowley goes straight for the man’s drink with the intention of spitting in it (or maybe drowning himself, he hasn’t decided yet) just to do something, but Aziraphale intercepts him and gently picks him up, setting him back down on his side of the table.

“Behave yourself,” he chides in a low, prissy voice.

“Or what?”

“Don’t test me, Crowley,” Aziraphale whispers, eyes flashing in warning. “Remember that time I blessed your underwear in 1650?”

“Oi!” But Crowley doesn’t get a chance to egg him on or come up with a scathing remark or even tell him that he’s since foregone underwear for that very reason, because Santiago drags the angel into his conversation with the woman, seemingly to make introductions, hungry kohl-rimmed eyes never straining from Aziraphale’s soft features.

The look on the man’s face is enough to chill Crowley to the bone and make him rethink this whole endeavour to prove to the world he’s actually super cool and relaxed. And no, he doesn’t need a blasted WikiHow article to know what’s on this prick’s mind, because it’s the same stuff that’s been on Crowley’s for ages!

All those stupid, top-secret Bond-esque fantasies where he rescues Aziraphale in overly complicated scenarios to make the angel swoon at his feet, everything he’s been thinking about in the quiet darkness of his own bedroom or in the backseat of the Bentley usually while being three sheets to the wind. And then those other, even more top-secret, painfully sober fantasies about Aziraphale being the one doing the rescuing, and… no.

No, no, no, bless it all!

“I think, Aziraphale,” Santiago says leaning on the table, voice sultry and the candle lighting up his face from below. “You’re just what the doctor ordered.”

“Oh, really? How nice of them.” It suddenly occurs to Aziraphale that the woman who just left may have been the doctor in question, but he’s quite ready for the conversation to die down, manners be damned, so he doesn’t say anything.

Crowley, on the other hand, is ready for more than the conversation to die, and when Santiago laughs, visibly charmed by Aziraphale’s sweet obliviousness, he decides he's behaved enough for the next millennium. So he snaps his fingers and the candle flame suddenly surges upward to set the man’s sleeve on fire.

Aziraphale is the first notice, but mild concern is the only thing he can muster. “You’re burning,” he points out, a nervous smile plastered on his face.

“Guess you could say that,” Santiago confirms, so focused on the angel that he barely registers what’s happening.

“No, you’re… sorry to say, but you’re literally burning.”

And yes, Aziraphale knows that putting out the fire and making sure Santiago is okay would be the angelic thing to do, but he really, really hopes that an unexpected fire on one’s person is reason enough to send said person back home. Unscathed, of course, and also preferably alone.

To his credit, when Santiago realises what’s going on, he doesn’t so much as flinch.

“Would you look at that?” he chuckles, using the extra long tablecloth to smother the flames, as if catching fire was a daily occurrence for him. “You’re too hot to handle, Aziraphale.”

The innuendo flies over the angel’s head, but not the demon’s, who grits his teeth and feels actual smoke coming out of his ears. This prick is going to taste hellfire before he gets the chance to taste anything else, that’s for sure!

“Oh, I’m never hot,” Aziraphale says, too disappointed by the averted crisis to explain that his corporation is always set to the perfect temperature. “I’m sorry, it was a really nice shirt.”

“Will you think me too forward if I told you that you won’t be sorry when you see me without it?”

“Goodness. Are you really that hot?” Aziraphale asks, then quickly adds: “Thank you… I guess?” Is that what you say when someone doesn’t want you to be sorry?

The words have barely left his mouth when Crowley lets out a frustrated high-pitched scream that only the angel can hear and snaps his fingers to teleport them both to the loo.

Suddenly back on his feet, Aziraphale blinks, disoriented by the abrupt change of scenery, a weird noise catching his attention. Is there someone crying in one of the stalls?

He doesn’t get a chance to investigate.

“Have you lost your mind?!” the demon screams with his shrill little voice. He’s pacing the marble counter between two very fancy sinks while flailing his arms and repeatedly touching his hair, perfectly styled waves long forgotten.

“Have I lost my mind?” Aziraphale strikes back, startled by his own irritation. Crowley has no right to be angry with him. This is all the demon’s fault! Aziraphale didn’t even want to be here! And for Heaven’s sake, is that a portrait of the Marquis de Sade on the wall?

“Yes! This was your idea!” Crowley complains, stopping his frantic movements to point his finger at Aziraphale, who’s so affronted he can barely speak.

“Oh, you— you—” he tries lamely, words stubbornly stuck in his throat.

Crowley has no time to gloat for what he’s quite ready to take as an admission of guilt, because next thing he knows Aziraphale has shrunk down to his size and he’s standing right next to him on the counter, finger pointed back at him.

“No, it was your idea! Oh, Crowley, what were you thinking?”

“What was I thinking? You’re the one who wanted to be picked up by some random bloke barely out of his diapers just to try something new! You could have chosen anything else! Crochet! Skydiving! Crypto! Hell, you could have tried ASMR!”

“I beg your pardon?” Aziraphale huffs out. “I do know how to crochet.”

“Newsflash, angel,” Crowley goes on undeterred. “You’re not going home with that guy and you’re definitely not going to see him shirtless anywhere else! I forbid it!”

“How dare you! You can’t forbid me to do anything!”

“Yes, yes I can.”

“And why is that?”

“Because! Because…” For Satan’s sake, he’s in big trouble. He should have thought of a better explanation than because I don’t want you to before starting to scream like a miniature banshee. “Because you don’t know how to kiss, that’s why.” Yes, kissing, that’s what usually comes after a date. “I don’t want you to be embarrassed.”

Aziraphale would be disappointed if he wasn’t so outraged by Crowley’s pathetic attempt at turning the tables on him.

“But you said…”

“Doesn’t matter what I said! I say a lot of things, I’m a demon! And humans are complicated, you should know that better than anyone,” he babbles on, alternatively wagging and pointing his finger at Aziraphale. “But I can tell you one thing: they draw the line at sloppy kisses.”

“That’s why you don’t want me to go home with Santiago,” Aziraphale repeats, lips pursed and eyes flaming.

“Of course. I’m trying to protect you, ‘s all.”

“Fine, then. Show me.”

“Wot?”

“Show me how to kiss. You brought me here to help me, didn’t you?” Aziraphale’s list of places in which Crowley is welcome to stick his help is lengthening by the second.

The demon laughs a mirthless laugh. “Absolutely not.” Yes, the angel has officially lost his mind.

For his part, Aziraphale stares at him, waiting (hoping…?) for him to change his mind, but nothing happens.

“Very well. If you won’t, you won’t. I’ll just try my luck with Santiago then,” he decides, slightly embarrassed and plenty spiteful, nose stuck in the air.

Without waiting for any further explanations, Aziraphale makes to walk away and step off the marble counter to go back to his usual size, when a seemingly unstoppable force yanks him backwards. Before he has a chance to understand what’s going on, Crowley grabs him by the lapels of his jacket, pushes him against the nearest wall, which happens to be right under the hand dryer, and smashes their lips together.

Irritation turns into shock.

Shock into confusion.

Confusion into… is that relief?

It’s hard to tell, since this is probably the weirdest thing they’ve ever experienced together. Not to mention, it feels more like a thousand different sensations all put together rather than a single, clear-cut one. Despite their shared consternation, it reminds them both of switching bodies right after the failed Apocalypse, because this too feels like having an out-of-body experience while simultaneously being more physically present than ever before.

Crowley is flaming hot to the touch, Aziraphale an enticing mixture of sturdy and soft, and even though the kiss seems to go on for centuries, it lasts maybe five seconds total, and it’s enough to leave them both flushed and panting in each other’s face.

“There,” Crowley croaks first, voice raw and barely audible. “Bet you’re happy now.” Personally, he wouldn’t know, but he’s almost sure that his eyes have gone blurry and that his legs will buckle under him at any given moment.

The demon’s snarky remark snaps Aziraphale out of his kiss-induced daze, dreamy, unfocused eyes hardening back into sheer outrage despite the proximity still making his heart flutter.

“Happy? With what? That— that— thing ,” he bursts out in the sliver of hot hair they’re still not-so-reluctantly sharing.

Crowley rolls his eyes behind his sunglasses. “That thing, angel, was a kiss,” he explains, trying to sound as pedantic and smug as possible while still holding Aziraphale's lapels. He’s also painfully red in the face, but rage has little to do with it this time.

“You think that was a kiss,” Aziraphale repeats, just to make sure he understood correctly.

“Yes, it’s okay if you don’t know what a ki—”

The look of determination on Aziraphale’s face steals Crowley’s breath away even before the angel can by putting a hand on the nape of his neck and the other on the small of his back.

“Now, this is a kiss!” he exclaims with such bitchy, dramatic flair, that Crowley would gladly roll his eyes into oblivion if he wasn’t so astonished at finding himself so easily manhandled.

Heedless to Crowley’s shock, Aziraphale erases the short distance between them and kisses the demon by leaning him backwards like lovers in an old Hollywood movie.

And this is no tentative, angry, faltering meeting of lips either. No, Aziraphale gives Crowley just a few seconds to remember who he is and where they are and what they’re doing and why, and then tries to push his tongue between his lips with the finesse of a six-thousand year old ethereal being who’s never actually kissed anyone, not like this.

Crowley, who has a general idea of what a romantic kiss looks like, is too stunned to do anything other than letting out a noise dangerously close to a moan.

Aziraphale pulls away on an annoyed huff. “This is the part where you open your mouth, so I can put my tongue in it,” he explains not at all patiently.

Crowley’s face flushes terribly, jaw tensing in outraged embarrassment. “I know exactly what part it isss, you don’t have to tell me, angel.”

“Just trust me, you stubborn demon!”

“Oi! I’m the one teaching you, remember?” he keeps arguing, even though he’s basically horizontal in Aziraphale’s arms. “I don’t need you to explain it to m—”

Aziraphale dives back in with renewed determination and this time, when he makes a second attempt to deepen the kiss, Crowley doesn’t resist him.

And if they thought the first kiss was weird, this is a thousand times weirder.

It’s hot, and wet, and yes, maybe too sloppy by human standards. But hey, they could both become extremely skilled kissers just by thinking themselves so, and yet neither of them does.

Because it’s also perfect.

Crowley’s like putty in the angel’s hands and what Aziraphale lacks in experience he definitely makes up for in enthusiasm, and for a while they just kiss and push their tongues together, moving their heads this way and that to get better access, letting out little hums of appreciation and awe, and sometimes even irritated grunts when one of them stops doing something that works to try something slightly different.

They kiss and kiss and kiss, desperately clinging to each other, all the rage and the frustration of the evening draining out of them little by little, until the kiss slows down to something less exasperated and more tender, and the reality of the situation starts dawning on them.

Crowley is kissing Aziraphale.

Aziraphale is kissing Crowley.

Having finally regained control of his unruly limbs, the demon discards his sunglasses and takes Aziraphale’s face between his shaky hands, shocked by how soft and cool the angel’s skin feels under his long, bony fingers. He reaches a bit lower to touch his neck and wastes no time undoing his bowtie, which sends an unspeakable thrill down his spine and helps distract him from the urge to cry that has suddenly seized him.

It’s like all the pent up emotions he tried to bury in the last few days — yes, nice try, more like millennia— are being brought back to the surface by Aziraphale’s lips.

For his part, the angel’s more than determined to ward off his own tears by offering Crowley the same treatment he gave the ox in Job’s cellar, at least metaphorically speaking. In fact, he’s already decided that his lips are going to wither and fall off before he’s going to stop kissing the demon. The world will change, empires will fall and rise and fall again and they’re still going to be stuck in this toilet, on this marble counter, with the portrait of the Divine Marquis watching over them and the weird noises coming from the stall.

And it’s precisely the stall opening that tears them apart. Two women spill into the room, excitedly whispering between themselves while giggling and washing their hands. They go about their business, oblivious to the two mini eternal beings Having a Moment right there between the sinks and staring at each other like the world has very suddenly started spinning in the opposite direction.

In the meantime, said beings don’t move, not even when the hand dryer is activated and a hot wind suddenly blasts over them. They’re both stunned into place, Crowley still pitched backwards and Aziraphale still holding him up like the dashing hero on the cover of one of those romance books he hides in a special corner of his bookshop.

Lips red and swollen and parted. Blue shimmery eyes never straining from golden ones. Crowley’s hair having lost any semblance of style, Aziraphale’s cheeks dusted with pink. Both the perfect picture of debauched, astonished contentment, hearts needlessly pounding away in their chests still pressed against each other.

So, this is what it feels like when a six-thousand year bubble of unspoken feelings suddenly pops on you.

“Now,” Aziraphale whispers shakily as soon as the women leave, voice uncharacteristically low, eyes roaming Crowley’s face with a confusing mixture of tenderness and shock and an ever-present pinch of annoyance. “I rather think that was a kiss.”

“Ssso you sssaid. Ngk. Guess you’re right,” Crowley hisses, blissfully defenceless.

The simplicity of the agreement startles Aziraphale to the point of letting go of the demon, who drops to the counter with a thud.

“Ouch,” Crowley whines.

“Oh, good Lord!” Aziraphale cries out mortified. He quickly springs into action and kneels next to Crowley to prop him up. “You silly demon, what were you thinking? Telling me I’m right like that…” he tuts, busying himself checking Crowley’s head for injuries of any kind. “I should make you do the dance.”

Crowley allows Aziraphale to fuss over him, staring at him wide-eyed, so snogged-out he even forgets to look annoyed. He’s not sure he could remember his name even if he wanted to.

“I don’t do the dance,” he says breathlessly. Any other day and he’d be embarrassed by the softness of his own voice. “It’s your thing.”

“It’s our thing,” Aziraphale corrects him while trying to fix the demon’s hair. He only manages to make it worse, but it’s also the first time he touches Crowley’s hair with such abandon so he’s still very proud of it. The sight of his pale, manicured fingers amongst that familiar shade of red is nothing short of life-changing.

“I never did it, did I?”

“Regardless. After the way you behaved tonight, I believe I deserve it.”

Crowley frowns, fingers back on the angel’s neck. “The way I behaved?”

“Yes, I can’t believe you wanted me to go on a date with some random human just so you could have a laugh at my expense.”

And just like that, the dreamy bubble surrounding them just seconds ago disappears into thin air.

“Wot?!” Crowley barks out, scrambling to get back on his feet.

Aziraphale lets him go and then does the same, facing the demon with all the haughtiness he can muster for someone with hair going in every direction, lips raw and bowtie half-undone.

As far as Crowley’s concerned, the sight is positively p*rnographic and it’s almost enough to make him lose his very important train of thought.

“Don’t look so shocked now,” Aziraphale scolds him. “That’s what you said, you—”

“Hell no, you said you wanted to go out romantically with another person.”

“I did not!”

“Those were your exact words, angel.” And he should know, they’re basically seared into his brain.

Aziraphale’s astonishment soon turns into puzzled irritation. “I was just explaining what a date is! Because I wanted to go on one with you, but you kept asking silly questions!”

“Wha— I don’t— That’s not— No.” Crowley runs back through their conversation in the bookshop and maybe, just maybe, Aziraphale is right. “B-but… Why didn’t you say anything then?”

“Because you seemed convinced I would embarrass myself and I wanted to show you that I’m perfectly capable of going on a date.”

“Oh.”

“Yes… oh.”

Silence surrounds them once again and they stare at each other for a moment longer. Then Crowley unmistakably moves in for another kiss — now that he’s started, he has no intention of stopping anytime soon — but Aziraphale draws back with an indignant huff.

“I think you’re forgetting something,” he scolds, even though there’s not much he can do for the blush blooming in his cheeks.

“Please…?” Crowley tries with politeness, then jumps straight to temptation: “Need I remind you I was a serpent once?” He can do very weird things with his tongue and he’s waited long enough to put them to the test.

Please? Really, Crowley. You can kiss me whenever you please, but first you have to—”

“Fine, fine!”

He knows what he has to do and he’ll do it, because… whenever he pleases? For Someone’s sake, does this mean he’s finally found something to do with all the free time he has now that he doesn’t work for Hell anymore? And also a reason to live? After all, when you think about it, Aziraphale made the first move by (almost) asking him out, and now it’s his turn. If the only thing he needs to do is to be truthful, then so be it.

“Alright, here goes nothing,” he says. He takes a deep breath to brace himself, but now that he’s touched Aziraphale’s tongue with his own, the idea of being honest is significantly less daunting than before. “I was upset because I thought you wanted to go on a date with some random sod and I may have… slightly… overreacted… just a little bit. ‘Cause… ‘cause, welllllll. I thought you’d… Ngk. You know… ask… me. First, I mean.” Crowley begrudgingly admits, spacing his words in the hopes of tricking himself into thinking they’re all unrelated and chosen completely at random.

And yet, Aziraphale’s smile is so blinding and soft and perfect that Crowley promptly forgets all his embarrassment.

“You’re so silly,” the angel says with a delighted glint in his eyes. “I forgive you.”

“‘M not silly. I’m a demon,” he protests gruffly.

“You’re a very silly demon,” Aziraphale remarks. “My silly demon, I believe.”

Crowley’s head is about to be blown into smithereens, smoke coming out of his ears and face so hot it may as well be literally on fire. “Either kiss me or shut up, will you?”

“Why, is my silly demon afraid of a few little words now?” Aziraphale teases him mercilessly.

“Shut. Up,” Crowley complains, grabbing the angel by the shoulders and pushing him back to the wall, this time way more gently than the first.

Aziraphale, who’s having way too much fun, keeps smiling and giggling. “Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be the first to say that words can be astonishingly powerful. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. As I always say—”

“Shut up. ‘M not ashamed.” Crowley shrugs, that damn bowtie catching his attention once again.

“You’re just not used to wielding words like—”

“I love you,” Crowley interrupts him. “How’s this for the power of words?”

Aziraphale gapes at him like a fish out of water, smug expression wiped off his face and breath stuck in his throat. Then the steely resolve is back and he clings to the demon’s shoulders. “Kiss me, Crowley. Right this second.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” he mumbles, diving straight for the angel’s lips.

Relief washes over him immediately and he melts against Aziraphale, who kindly keeps him upright without making too much fuss about it. Yes, the Bond fantasies will have to wait for his legs to start working properly again, but this is bliss.

“Wait,” Crowley pulls away. “What about Santiago?”

“Who?”

A slow, lopsided smile spreads on the demon’s lips. “You’re such a bastard.”

“Kiss me, now, would you?”

It takes a while for the silence to catch up with Crowley. When he finally realises the rustle of pages has stopped, he lifts his eyes from the game he’s been mindlessly playing on his phone just to find Aziraphale perched on his armchair, staring at him with a weird look on his face.

This could mean a number of things. The angel is either feeling peckish, unnecessarily fussing about what to read next, contemplating the meaninglessness of life or trying to come up with a clever way to ask for a kiss without actually asking for it. Habits may not be eternal, but they’re still quite hard to die.

Unless…

Crowley bolts upright, phone immediately forgotten, eyes wide and an idea obsessively bouncing in his head.

Because the last time Aziraphale looked at him like that he wanted to ask Crowley on a date (well, he tried to, at least). So maybe, just maybe, the angel’s trying to find a way to ask for Crowley’s help to try something new, and well, considering what they spent the last few weeks doing (which, shockingly, didn’t include one of them disappearing for a few decades and waiting for things between them to cool down), the demon has some ideas about where this might be going.

And this time he’s not going to be caught unawares, no sir. In fact, he’s been diligently studying and perusing the internet waiting for a chance to rock Aziraphale’s world with his vast, albeit brand new, expertise. The angel may have surprised Crowley by demonstrating that he knew something about French and tongues after all, but from here on out, it’s all on him.

It’s a heavy burden for a single demon to carry, there’s no doubt about that, but he’ll bravely soldier on. Why, someone could almost say he’s been waiting for this moment his whole life.

“Crowley.”

Ah, there it is.

“I would like to ask you something,” Aziraphale says primly, voice tight and heat already blooming in his cheeks.

Oh God, it’s happening, Crowley thinks, too worked up to redirect his invocation to any other entity.

“Yes,” he squawks.

“I was thinking, I know you, erm, always indulge all my passing fancies,” he goes on, wringing his hands and glancing everywhere but in Crowley’s direction, “and lately you’ve been very patient and very kind, if you don’t mind me saying so.”

Oh, this time he’ll make an exception and he won’t mind at all.

“Let me just say, I appreciate it very much, Crowley. And maybe I’m getting a bit greedy, considering all the time we’ve been spending together, and no, let me stop you right there. I’m not going to ask you to move into the bookshop again, though I don’t understand why you’re making such a fuss about it. I know the Bentley would like some reprieve, and honestly—”

“Aziraphale,” Crowley interjects, throwing caution to the wind. “Please, please, please, for the love of Whoever, just get to the point.”

Aziraphale suddenly looks at him, startled and even a bit irritated by the interruption.

“Very well. Goodness gracious, aren’t you prickly today? What I meant to say is…”

Any other day and the remark would launch an entire separate argument, but not this time, because Crowley knows he’s about to make sweet, sweet lov—

“Do you remember the Sachertorte we tried in that delightful little bistrot?”

Time stops.

Crowley goes incredibly still, but luckily it’s only a matter of seconds. Then he quickly stands up, putting on his sunglasses and whipping out his phone.

“Crowley, are you even listening to me?” Aziraphale protests when, to his great dismay, the demon starts typing on that blasted device of his.

“Yes, I’m just looking for something.” In times of great uncertainty, there’s only one place he can turn to for answers. “I’ll be back in a bit, angel.”

“But what about the Sach—”

With the Sachertorte, of course.”

Aziraphale beams, irritation promptly forgotten. “Oh, thank you, Crowley.”

It’s no bother and, besides, he has some studying to do and he has already found exactly what he was looking for.

How to Seduce An Angel in Four Easy Steps (With Pictures) by Belle Z. Bubb.

Crazy Little Thing (Called Love) - Hermiola (2024)
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