Gift Recipient: Circeniko
Summary & Pairing: Normal boys don't give presents at their own weddings. Unfortunately for Aziraphale and Crowley, Adam Young has never been a normal boy. (Crowley/Aziraphale, implied Adam/Pepper)
Author's Notes: Very big thanks to C. and E., my real-life betas, who Do Not ReadTM m/m slash, and yet very sweetly read and re-read this until the last of my creative punctuation had headed for the hills. Any remaining errors are all mine.
Dam – bles – curse Adam Young, anyway. This was all his fault.
Normal boys, boys who were not the Adversary, Destroyer of Kings, Angel of the Bottomless Pit, Great Beast That is Called Dragon, Prince of This World, Father of Lies, Spawn of Satan and Lord of Darkness, normal boys grew up and married normal girls and helped their new, normal wives write stilted thank-you notes in appreciation for the food processors and too-nice china they received as wedding gifts. Normal boys did not take it into their heads to give gifts to the guests at their weddings, and certainly if they did, they wouldn’t be so dam – bles – ridiculously...
Well. Thoughtful. Thoughtful in only that special, special way that the Adversary, Destroyer of Kings, Angel of the Bottomless Pit, Great Beast That is Called Dragon, Prince of This World, Father of Lies, Spawn of Satan and Lord of Darkness could be.
The worst bit was that Aziraphale had thought it rather sweet, at first. Adam had stood up and made a speech, a rather long and somewhat rambling one, but as it was well into the reception and very well into the champagne, everyone very magnanimously put up with it, and nodded along as though they were paying attention. When Adam got to the bit about giving everyone exactly what they needed most, Aziraphale had reached over and patted Crowley on the hand, and said, "My dear, really, he has grown up well, hasn't he?"
And Crowley had sighed dramatically and said, "Sentimental, is what he is," and then taken several large gulps of champagne, and Aziraphale had magnanimously pretended that Crowley hadn't sounded at all choked up when he said it.
Crowley was such a dear.
The reception really had been lovely. The food had been delicious and the drinks excellent, and Aziraphale had spent the time sitting near Crowley and appreciating second helpings of Chateaubriand, getting steadily drunker as Adam made the rounds, apparently bestowing gifts upon his guests. The new Mrs. Adam Young (although she'd probably tear your spleen out through your nose and serve it to you in a martini if you referred to her as such) was following a few steps behind, ensuring that he hadn't caused any irreparable damage. Crowley had just stepped away from their table to get another bottle of wine when Adam plopped down into Crowley's former chair, and turned an enormous, knowing smile on Aziraphale.
"Cogantu - Cronagtu - Congratulations, my dear boy." Aziraphale patted Adam's cheek in a fatherly sort of way, except for the bit where he missed and stuck his finger in Adam's ear.
"Thank you, Aziraphale. I really do appreciate you coming, you know."
"We appreciate your inviting us. We really, really, really, really - what was I talking about?" Aziraphale squinted at Adam.
"I am really very thankful, really, for all you and Crowley have done for me over the years." Adam looked very sincere. Aziraphale wondered if that boded well. "I only wish that you two could be as happy as we are."
"Two?" Aziraphale looked at the floor to his left, then to his right. "I'm pretty sure there's only one of me. More of you, possibly. But one me, only one."
Adam sighed. "This is worse then I thought. But really," Adam leaned in and patted Aziraphale on the cheek. "I think you'll thank me in the morning."
Aziraphale had watched him wander off to where Crowley was leaning heavily against the bar, and smiled. Adam Young, the Adversary, Destroyer of Kings, Angel of the Bottomless Pit, Great Beast That is Called Dragon, Prince of This World, Father of Lies, Spawn of Satan and Lord of Darkness, really had grown up to be such a nice young man.
It was only later, when Crowley returned to the table, bearing two bottles of wine and a megawatt smile, that Aziraphale wondered if Adam had forgotten to give him his gift, and if he'd be coming back later. Crowley reclaimed his chair, stretched out his long, lean legs, and loosened his tie, sighing happily as he refilled their glasses with his other hand. Aziraphale swallowed several times at the sight of Crowley's smooth throat, at the strong line of his shoulders under his jacket, at the hint of amber eye over his sunglasses as he inspected the wine. Aziraphale stared at Crowley, at oh, Go - my goodness, Crowley, and tried to calm down, even as all his blood rushed to warmer regions further south.
It was right about then, as he noticed a distinct and decidedly unintentional tightness in his...trouser region, that he realized, with some horror, that Adam hadn't forgotten his present at all.
~ ~ ~
Bles – dam – bugger Adam Young, anyway. This was all his fault.
He'd accosted Crowley at the bar, while Crowley had been quite innocently getting more wine (the angel was at his most...entertaining when his words were a little bit slurred, his cheeks a little bit flushed, and his laughter at inappropriate jokes a little more open).
"Hi, Crowley. Thanks for coming." Adam gave Crowley a lopsided grin.
Crowley smiled in reply. "Wouldn't have missed it for the world." He gesticulated with the two fresh wine bottles. "Open bar!"
Adam laughed. "Well, it's good to see both of you."
"Both of us?" Crowley raised an eyebrow. "I wasn't aware that the angel and I were a unit, what with him being a force for good and fluffy bunnies and me being a demon and all."
Adam gave him a disbelieving look. "Crowley."
Adam shook his head. "Really, they always are the last to know."
Crowley's brow furrowed. The last to know what?
He didn't have the presence of mind to ask just then, and it turned out he wouldn't get another chance. "Have a good time," Adam said in parting, with a grin and a wave at the bottles. "We'll come say hullo when we get back from our honeymoon."
The new Mrs. Adam Young (although Crowley expected she'd rip your still beating heart from your ribcage and use it like a baseball if you ever called her such a thing) took Adam by the elbow and led him away, and Crowley took the wine and returned to their table.
Aziraphale really was looking a little worse for wear, Crowley noticed, as he loosened his tie. The angel's face was flushed, his eyes dilated, and he appeared to have swallowed several times, very rapidly, when Crowley sat down beside him. Crowley felt an unexpected stab of concern. "Are you all right?" he asked.
If Crowley hadn't known better, he'd have sworn that Aziraphale was looking at his legs. As it was, he expected that Aziraphale had just had far too much to drink. "Hey," Crowley snapped his fingers in front of Aziraphale's face. "You in there? Maybe you should sober up a bit. You don't look well."
At that, Aziraphale looked up, fixing his heated gaze on Crowley's face. "I'm not - I'm not drunk. I sobered up already. When I - um, just after you sat down."
"What? Are you ill? You can't be ill." Crowley was genuinely worried. Aziraphale was looking at him with wide, feverish eyes, and Crowley couldn't think of anything other than alcohol that could do such a thing to an angel. He pressed a hand to Aziraphale's forehead. The angel was very, very warm. "Aziraphale, I think. Well, it doesn't make any sense, but I think you're feverish." He stood, offering a hand to Aziraphale, who seemed decidedly inclined to keep his legs crossed.
"Crowley, I - "
"This is troubling. I can't think of anything that could make an angel sick, can you? But you don't look well. You're very flushed. You're sweating." Crowley put his arm around Aziraphale's shoulders. Aziraphale shuddered. Crowley guided Aziraphale out of the reception and down to the Bentley. "Damn, I bet this is some sort of - some sort of plan thingie. Infernal meddling of some sort. I imagine I'm going to have to have a word with some of my people about this." Aziraphale gave him an unhappy little look. "In the meantime, let's get you home," Crowley continued, in what he hoped was a comforting tone. "Tea, right? Tea helps humans when they're ill."
Aziraphale nodded as he buckled his seatbelt. He looked perfectly miserable. "Tea. Yes. Tea might help." He crossed his legs.
~ ~ ~
The ride home was agonizing. Crowley alternated between scowling at the traffic and giving Aziraphale concerned glances. Aziraphale, on the other hand, was trying to ignore the way Crowley licked his lips when he was nervous, the way Crowley's long hands clenched the steering wheel tightly just before he did something wildly dangerous and illegal, and the highly inappropriate suggestions Aziraphale couldn't keep his mind from making at least as fast as Crowley was pushing the Bentley through traffic. Aziraphale gave his trouser region a thorough mental scolding. Now was not the time. He was fairly certain that it would never be the time.
Crowley, meanwhile, was running through a mental list of things that might be affecting Aziraphale. He'd narrowed it down to several assorted demons with a grudge, several assorted angels with a grudge, and someone slipping something in Aziraphale's drink, hoping to get in his trousers. That seemed unlikely. Aziraphale wasn't the sort to attract the perverse attentions of sexual predators lurking around at weddings. Aziraphale's attractions were too subtle for that type: his foolish obsession with rare books, his naive and unrelenting optimism, his tweed. Aziraphale was a little bit like that dog that you love fiercely even when he chews a bit on your favorite Italian leather shoes. You had to already love him to love him.
Crowley slammed on the brakes.
"Crowley?" Aziraphale asked. He sounded a bit breathless.
"Oh, no," Crowley said unhappily.
"Crowley, are you all right?" Aziraphale put his hand on Crowley's shoulder, in a strictly platonic sort of way.
"I think I just figured out what Adam gave me for his wedding."
Aziraphale paused, his fingers just lightly touching the back of Crowley's neck. "You too, then?" He brushed his fingertip along the line of Crowley's collar.
Crowley looked at him, rather desperately, Aziraphale thought, and Aziraphale couldn't stop himself. He leaned in and kissed Crowley full on the mouth.
Crowley seemed surprised, but he didn't immediately push Aziraphale away, so Aziraphale took this as encouragement. He ran his tongue along Crowley's lower lip, and Crowley gasped, and pulled back.
"You're not sick, then?" Crowley sounded quite anxious.
"No," Aziraphale replied. Although that thing he'd thought about, with Crowley's tie and the back table in the bookshop -
Crowley pulled him into a kiss that utterly destroyed Aziraphale's capacity for thought, rational or otherwise. "My flat," Crowley finally gasped, and turned away from Aziraphale to grip the steering wheel with a renewed sense of urgency.
In fact, they only made it to Aziraphale's bookshop, because it was closer, and even then, they only just made it up the front steps before Aziraphale, now almost fully controlled by his trouser region, slammed Crowley against the door and began unbuttoning Crowley's shirt.
"Oh, Go - He - tarnation," Crowley gasped. "Where are your keys?"
"Keys?" Aziraphale replied, to the very, very interesting hollow of Crowley's throat, and the door fell open.
They knocked over a bookshelf. Aziraphale didn't care. Both of them moaned several invocations to higher powers. Crowley didn't mind. Before long, Aziraphale was naked, and Crowley was down to his pants and his tie on the back table of the bookshop. Aziraphale was fuzzily thinking that it felt odd to be so grateful to the Adversary, Destroyer of Kings, Angel of the Bottomless Pit, Great Beast That is Called Dragon, Prince of This World, Father of Lies, Spawn of Satan and Lord of Darkness, but then Crowley moved his mouth slowly down Aziraphale's chest, and Aziraphale decided to stop thinking all together.
Crowley was smooth and velvety and hard and salty, creamy skin over firm muscle, strange-bright eyes and wicked, breathless little laughs. Crowley purred when Aziraphale drew his superheated fingers across the hollow of Crowley's hip, and moaned when Aziraphale stroked him with inexplicable certainty. Aziraphale felt the slow burn of Crowley's blood beneath his hands, lust and beautiful desperation at Aziraphale's every withheld touch. Aziraphale was learning to make Crowley lose control, and he liked it. Crowley knelt before him, his hair dark and damp with sweat, smelling of demon and bookshop dust and sex. "Perfect," Aziraphale gasped, then buried his fingers in Crowley's curls, and pulled as he screamed.
Heat filled Aziraphale's eyes, a scorching desire that Crowley basked in as though it were the sun, and he some insignificant and worshipful flower. He ran his fingers along the shell of Aziraphale's ear, the perfect lines and planes of Aziraphale's face, the softness of Aziraphale's hair, the fullness of Aziraphale's mouth. There was something in this that almost frightened him, something about filled and filling and within and surrounding, whole volumes written on give and take that Crowley had never before felt the need to comprehend, although he thought he had studied this, before. But this was different, wasn't it? No mortal, escorted into sin; instead an angel, who Crowley blessed with his kisses, who Crowley baptized with his tongue, who Crowley prayed to with hands and lips and oh, Aziraphale, please. They twined and moved together, breathed one breath, and that, Crowley thought, well that was just it, wasn't it?
~ ~ ~
Aziraphale hadn't moved in...hours, it felt like. The air was cold on his naked skin, and the table wasn't exactly the most comfortable place to lie down, but he hadn't been able to catch his breath until just now, and Crowley was draped over him in a pleasing sort of way, arms wrapped around his neck, breath gentle against his throat. "Maybe we should move," Aziraphale said, finally. It was getting rather chilly.
"Mmm, okay," Crowley replied. He slid sinuously off of Aziraphale and stood, stretching.
Aziraphale flushed. For the first time, it occurred to him that buggering agents of Adversary against the back table of his bookshop wasn't a particularly angelic thing to do. Well, "agent," singular, but the principle held. But Crowley was very - very - well, Crowley was just very, that was all. Aziraphale's trouser-free trouser region was starting to agree again.
Crowley smiled at Aziraphale - an oddly honest smile at that - and offered Aziraphale his hand. Aziraphale let himself be pulled to his feet, and then Crowley was kissing him, deep, tender, and slow, and Aziraphale exhaled softly into his mouth.
"This is rather nice, isn't it?" Crowley murmured.
"I - um, that is I - um." Crowley was slowly rubbing Aziraphale's bare shoulders, his touch so light it raised gooseflesh. Aziraphale shivered. "Crowley, I - I feel a bit. Uncomfortable. With this."
Crowley pulled back, looking confused. "What?"
"I mean, it's not. It's not really. Well, it's not terribly appropriate, is it? I mean, just because Adam decided it would be a good idea to give me. Well. This." Aziraphale waved his hand at his trouser region. He could feel a flush, starting at his ankles and steadily rising. "Just because Adam thought that, um, that would make a good wedding present, it doesn't change the fact that giving in to sudden overwhelming lust and doing, um, things to demons isn't exactly part of my job description."
"Lust," Crowley echoed.
"Yes. One of the Seven Deadly Sins and all."
"Oh." Crowley cleared his throat. "Right. Yes. Well, I suppose that's. That's rather different, then." He bent, collecting his clothes from the floor. He was very carefully avoiding Aziraphale's eyes. "I'll just put these on, then. Um."
Aziraphale put his hand on Crowley's shoulder, faintly puzzled. Certainly, the...the things had been quite enjoyable. The bit with Crowley's tongue...on his...well, that part had been quite brilliant, actually. But Crowley seemed much more upset by Aziraphale's sensible recollection of his angelic duties than Aziraphale had expected. Aziraphale had never thought of Crowley as one of those demons interested in Lust to the neglect of other sins.
Crowley pulled away and dressed quickly. Aziraphale tried not to think improper thoughts about each inch of skin that vanished, but it was quite the struggle. Adam's gift had, apparently, not been a one-time-only sort of thing.
"Right," Crowley said, draping his tie sloppily around his shoulders. "I'll just be going, then."
Undoubtedly to continue their...activities with some appropriately temptable mortal, Aziraphale thought, squelching an irrational wave of jealousy. That was better, really. That was just wiles. That was just Crowley doing his job.
And Aziraphale should do his. As soon as Aziraphale heard the door jingle shut behind Crowley, he gathered up his clothes, trying to decide what sorts of saving he could get in before dinner.
On reflection, he decided that whatever sort of saving was to be done, it would have to wait until after a shower, preferably of the freezing cold variety.
Dam – bles – curse Adam Young, anyway. This was all his fault.
~ ~ ~
Crowley wasn't entirely certain how he managed to get into the Bentley, let alone all the way back to his flat, but he did. Upon arriving, he threw his tie on the floor, and scowled at the plants. Several of them spontaneously combusted.
Lust. Crowley sat heavily on his couch. So that was all it had been, then. There'd been a few moments where he'd thought - well, he'd been wrong. He conjured himself a bottle of whiskey and a glass, and poured himself a good two or six fingers.
What was Adam thinking, anyway? How could this be what he needed? It was bad enough that he forced Crowley into falling in love with the angel, but unrequited love was just...tacky, that was all. Unrequited love was one of those things that humans did to themselves and Crowley took credit for. One of those things that made Crowley look really tremendously clever and wicked to his superiors, without Crowley having to do any actual work.
And besides, Crowley considered angrily, refilling his glass, loving anything of any sort was not part of his duties. He'd just have to put it out of his mind.
But three hours later, Crowley was still slumped drunkenly against the arm of his sofa, trying to pretend that the wetness on his face was just sweat, instead of hurt and angry tears. He was failing, quite spectacularly, to persuade himself of anything of the sort. He swallowed several times. The sex had been - well, the sex had been bloody fantastic, actually, and it wasn't like he'd never thought about it before, but he was a demon, and thinking about shagging everything in sight was practically part of the definition. It wasn't that he regretted the lust bits.
It was just that he'd thought there was more to it than that, and try as he might, undignified as it might be, he just couldn't quite reconcile that a being of pure goodness and light, with whom he happened to be quite seriously in love, had just used him as a meaningless fuck. Not even the irony was comforting.
Bles – dam – bugger Adam Young, anyway. This was all his fault.
~ ~ ~
"Hullo?" Adam sounded thoroughly shagged. Probably tan as well. Aziraphale scowled at the telephone.
"Hi, Adam, it's Aziraphale."
"Well, well, well. Fancy hearing from you."
"Don't be smug with me, young man. Or I'll tell your wife."
"Now, now." Aziraphale smiled at the note of panic in Adam's voice. "No need for that, now. What can I help you with?"
"You can take your bloody wedding present back, that's what." Aziraphale scowled at his trouser region.
"Did you - did you just swear, Aziraphale?"
"Yes, I did, and that's not the only unangelic thing I've done in the past two weeks, and now Crowley's locked himself up in his flat, probably...probably sleeping or something, and I - and I - " Aziraphale didn't want to give Adam the satisfaction of knowing how desperately he missed Crowley. "Well, I haven't got anyone to come with me when I feed the ducks." Aziraphale rubbed his forehead. "Please, Adam. Please, take it back."
"Oh, no. You don't get off that easily. What did you do, shag him and then not call him in the morning?"
"Well. Yes, but - "
"Good grief, just be thankful he isn't a woman. You'd be dead - excuse me, 'inconveniently discorporated' by now. Several times over, I imagine."
Aziraphale's trouser region was already quite thankful Crowley wasn't a woman, inconvenient discorporation totally aside. "It didn't seem appropriate, Adam. An angel can't just go around shagging demons - "
"Or swearing. Or drinking to excess. Or aiding the enemy in postponing Armageddon."
"Now, Adam, that's just not fair."
"But it's true. The time to play by the rules is long past."
Aziraphale sighed. "Adam, it isn't that easy."
"What's not easy about it? You love Crowley, don't you?"
"Of course I do. He's Crowley. And besides, I'm an angel. I'm compelled by my innate nature to love things."
"But you love him because he's Crowley, not because you're compelled by your innate nature." Aziraphale was silent for a long time. "Tell me I'm wrong and I'll take back my present," Adam said, gently. "But just remember, it isn't very angelic to lie."
Aziraphale closed his eyes, and hung up the phone.
~ ~ ~
"Yeah." Crowley rubbed at his nose with his sleeve, and wished he didn't sound as awful as he felt. "Did you have a nice honeymoon?"
"Yeah, we did. You sound like shit."
"I - well, I feel bloody awful, too. That's why I'm calling you, actually."
"You want me to take it back." Adam sounded weary, but unsurprised. "Honestly, the two of you."
"Well, it's not - it's not a very nice present, Adam. I mean, no one sits down and says 'You know what I'd really like for my birthday? A gut-wrenching case of unrequited love, that'd be nice.'" Crowley sniffled. "And I got you such a lovely food processor."
"Unrequited love? Is that really what you think I gave you?"
"Don't laugh at me, you twat. That bloody well is what you gave me, and you gave Aziraphale a fucking libido, and I - I - well, I don't think that's half fair. I've always enjoyed my libido. In fact, I enjoy it so much I've now managed to prove that I'm easy even for a being of Hell, since I don't think any of my fellows has ever been buggered by an angel on the back table of a bookshop, under the watchful eye of wall-to-wall shelves of horrified Bibles."
"Crowley, that was - that was way too much information, for one, and also, simply not true. I gave you and Aziraphale exactly the same thing. And if you're too slow to figure it out...well, that's not my fault, now is it?"
The line clicked dead before Crowley had a chance to formulate a suitably scathing reply.
~ ~ ~
Well. So it had come to this.
Aziraphale had comforted mortals through the trials of love. He'd patted them on the hand, slapped them on the back, lent them a shoulder. He'd advised them in favor of apologizing and against proposing over hamburgers and shakes at Burger Lord; he'd recommended chocolates for those with hay fever and flowers for those sensitive about their weight; he'd reminded countless people that in the end, if he or she really loved you, he or she would put up with quite a lot of you being an idiot along the way.
It still didn't make him feel any better about himself right at the moment, wearing his nicest trousers and standing in front of Crowley's door with a bottle of wine and an apology lurking at the back of his throat. He'd tried, several times now, to get up the nerve to knock, but each time his hand fell back to his side, wondering if he'd manage to get the words out right, if he'd make an utter ass out of himself, if it would've been better to bring scotch instead of wine.
He sighed, and raised his fist again. The door opened before it hit the wood. Crowley was standing there, dressed like he was about to go out with someone he'd like to impress and carrying a bottle of wine.
"Hi," said Aziraphale, feeling rather depressed. He wondered who Crowley was meeting.
"Hi," said Crowley. He thought that Aziraphale looked stupidly charming in those trousers.
"I was wondering, well. If you're going out, maybe I should come back later."
"No! No, I - I wasn't - " Crowley looked at Aziraphale's feet. Where had he got those shoes? They looked like they'd been gnawed on by someone's dog. Or possibly Dog. "Come in. Please. I'll just put this - " he waved vaguely at the flat with his bottle of wine. "Um. Come in. Have a seat."
Aziraphale sat nervously on the edge of Crowley's sofa, and watched Crowley try to find a place to put his wine. Crowley finally set it on the floor next to a glossy green philodendron, who reached a few impudent tendrils toward the bottle before Crowley had a chance to scowl the plant into submission.
"Well! Now that's sorted, let me get some glasses." Crowley seemed quite agitated.
"I wanted to apologize," Aziraphale blurted out. Crowley turned to look at him. Aziraphale felt himself redden. "What I did. To you. Not - not calling you, or anything. That was - it was foolish. And cruel. And, um. Letting you leave, really, that was bloody stupid of me as well." Aziraphale looked up. Crowley was watching him from the kitchen, one hand still on the cupboard where he kept the glasses.
"You're an angel," Crowley said, finally. "It's not fair of me to expect you to want to - want to keep. Um."
"Shagging?" Aziraphale supplied.
"I liked shagging you." Now was not the time to mince words. "Shagging you was the best idea I've had since...well, since we saved the world and all that." Crowley was still watching him quite steadily, not moving. Aziraphale had never felt so nervous before, and he had quite a lot of before to compare it to. He swallowed. "I mean, I know I'm not - I'm not exactly experienced, and all, and I'm not half so handsome as you, and I could understand why you wouldn't want to keep - "
"Shut up," said Crowley. He sighed. "The shagging - look, the shagging was bloody fantastic. You're bloody fantastic, all right? But it's just not in the cards." He rubbed his face. He seemed tired. "I lo - I like you too much to just shag you because Adam bloody Young decided that giving you a boner would be a nice party favor."
"I think, my dear," Aziraphale paused. "That Adam didn't give either one of us anything other than - anything more than the tiniest push."
Crowley's hands slipped on the doors to the cupboard. "I don't believe for one second, angel, that you already wanted me."
"But I loved you. And you - well," Aziraphale looked at the floor.
Oh, yes, he was clever, the Adversary, Destroyer of Kings, Angel of the Bottomless Pit, Great Beast That is Called Dragon, Prince of This World, Father of Lies, Spawn of Satan and Lord of Darkness. He was very clever indeed.
"You already loved me." Crowley laughed, a little. "And I already wanted you." He closed the cupboard and joined Aziraphale on the sofa, slouching bonelessly beside him. "That boy."
"That stupid boy."
"That stupid, wonderful boy." Crowley smiled at Aziraphale, relishing his closeness, the warmth radiating from his fair skin, the softness of his face as it relaxed into a smile. "So tell me, angel."
Crowley moved closer. "How does it look, from my side of things?"
Aziraphale eyed him, taking in the smooth lines of his face, noting with concern the hint of tiredness in the corners of his eyes, noting with pleasure the faint blush on his throat, the mischievous tilt of his smile. He leaned in and licked Crowley's neck, and listened to his purr.
"Perfectly delicious," Aziraphale replied, and took another bite.