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Everything was quite safe and sound and running, well, as normal as things ever got. Unless, of course, you were an angel who happened to like living on earth with the humans, who were for the most part an all right sort once you got used to them, and if your best mate was supposed to be your arch-enemy (but you'd both gotten over that long ago).

Which is to say, Aziraphale was troubled. The day-- which was Sunday - had started off normal enough. Being an angel, Aziraphale had no use for churches. So he had a bit of a lie-in, and tea and toast with blackcurrant jam, then a pleasant walk in St. James' until he met Crowley for lunch at the Ritz. That was when the trouble began. Aziraphale found this terribly off putting; he was usually sanguine when Crowley was worried or fussing or panicking. If Aziraphale was upset, then Crowley was really upset. In fact, he would have left "upset" behind him some time ago. So when Aziraphale found himself bothered and Crowley apparently just dandy, this only upset him more. Not exactly in the Approaching Anger or Tears way, but more in the Emotionally Balanced way. Or Emotionally Unbalanced way, as it was turning out.

Crowley, apparently, had failed to notice. He had simply gone on about the things he had accomplished lately, things Aziraphale probably should have scolded him for, if only he hadn't given up on that long ago.

"And then-- and this is the really good part-- they put another one up on the next corner! Can you believe it? Almost...miraculous...isn't it, the way they just keep going with things...." Crowley was pleased with himself; he had recently made quite a lot of money on some American firm he'd convinced to put shops up at an unreasonable rate and unreasonable distances.

Aziraphale just watched, feeling rather helpless, as Crowley grinned. "It's not like they need that much coffee" he said. "Who needs that much coffee?"
"Certainly not you" Aziraphale rallied enough to say.

Crowley grinned at him, which for some reason had started to make Aziraphale feel rather ill. He licked his lips, thin forked tongue shooting out briefly. Aziraphale stared-- that had made him feel even more ill. At least, he thought it was ill. And now he couldn't stop staring at Crowley's mouth, which was something that had been happening more and more lately, and he never used to have that problem. Certainly not when Crowley was a serpent.

"Uerm" Aziraphale said.

"Something wrong?" Crowley asked. "You're an odd colour."

"I've just been thinking" Aziraphale said quickly, before he could change his mind. "I've just been wondering why Adam--" here Crowley's eyebrow went up, they almost never talked about that-- "had to go and give me back my old body. Instead of a, say, new, spiffy one."

Crowley very carefully set down the glass he had picked up. And then he laughed. Howled might also apply.

"Spiffy!" he gasped, slapping the table. "Spiffy!"

Aziraphale began to feel rather put-out, which was dangerously close to offended. He frowned, then frowned deeply. He tapped his fingers on the table. He was almost to Scowl when Crowley righted himself and had a drink of water.

"You've frightened everyone" Aziraphale said crossly. This was true. Everyone in the restaurant was now trying very hard to not look at their table.

Crowley just grinned lazily and slumped in his seat. He was stretching out under the table, and Aziraphale could feel Crowley's foot next to his. And once he felt it, it was impossible not to feel it. Not to be constantly aware that some part of the demon was now touching him. And in no hurry to stop, apparently.

"What did you want?" Crowley asked. "To come out looking like some American movie star? Even I don't look like that."

"No" Aziraphale frowned at his plate. When it came down to it, he did think Crowley looked rather like a movie star. "Wouldn't have minded being a bit spruced up, though. Younger."

Crowley rolled his eyes. It was a good thing he still had his sunglasses on when he did so, or the few people in the restaurant who were looking their way would have had a nasty shock.

"Only an angel-- no, only You-- would want to look 'spiffy'." And he chortled to himself, and muttered something that sounded like "1953."

Aziraphale played with his napkin. Crowley's foot was still next to his, and for some reason, this was confusing the issue. "What's wrong with 'spiffy,' I'd like to know?"

"Oh, nothing. Only about 45 years." Crowley sat up straight, thereby pulling his foot away. Aziraphale felt oddly abandoned. "Anyway, what do you care? You don't need a new body. This one's just fine." Crowley abruptly took a large, long drink.

Aziraphale was glad Crowley was otherwise occupied, because he suddenly felt rather like blushing. And his stomach felt ill again. He wanted to ask if Crowley meant it, but couldn't.

Crowley put down his glass and considered Aziraphale from behind his sunglasses. The angel felt very self-conscious, and wished he'd kept it to himself.

"What's this about, anyway?" he asked. "Why do you care how you look? I thought vanity and pride were sins."

"Well, er, yes, of course they are. I-- nothing. I'm just a bit bored with this, that's all."

Aziraphale had not, of course, told a lie before. He felt almost oppressively guilty. Surely this was how angels Fell, he thought. It started out with the little sins, like lying and disobedience and lust, and then it moves up to big things like--

Lust? Where had that come from?

Crowley was talking: "Yes, I suppose you thought you'd be in for a new one. It does save on the paperwork, though, doesn't it?"

"I rather wish you hadn't invented paperwork" Aziraphale said.

Crowley winced. "Yes. Sometimes they do come back to bite one on the arse, don't they?"

But now, for some reason, Aziraphale was thinking about arses. One in particular. And his mouth felt dry. He grabbed his water and drank, unable to look at Crowley while he was thinking about his arse. What was wrong with him? Too much time around humans? Too much time around a demon?

Somehow, one of them changed the subject, and although Aziraphale was able to carry on the conversation, half his mind was running through this strange attraction certain sins had recently developed.

Like Crowley. He was one big walking sin. It must be, if it was him. Although that wasn't quite true anymore, was it? Sometimes, he did the right thing. Free will was hard. No wonder humans made such a muddle of it all the time. Aziraphale had thousands of years more experience, and he still felt like a muddle.

They had finished lunch and were strolling down the streets now. They were wandering in a residential square that was nearly deserted.

"You've picked things up from humans, right?" Aziraphale asked abruptly. He had to be careful here-- his main problem right now was that he didn't know what he wanted. Crowley was certain to know, being a demon. He just had to find out without giving himself away.

"Well, yes, of course. So have you."

"What...sorts of things?"

Crowley cocked his head and looked at him like that. "I'm afraid I don't know what you mean." They had stopped walking. Aziraphale, in his nervousness, started them again.

"I don't know what I mean either" Aziraphale confessed. "That's the problem."

"Well, what do you want to know?" Crowley asked, directing them down a very small, darkish side street.

"I've started feeling odd" Aziraphale said. It was mostly the truth.

Crowley turned to stare at him. "Odd how?"

The angel swallowed hard. This had been a bad idea. He should drop it. He should try and get Crowley to drop it. "My stomach feels jumpy" he said. "And I feel a bit lightheaded and woozy. And unaccountably nervous."

Crowley looked either horrified or fascinated; probably both. "All the time?"

"N-no. No, only at very specific times."


"Err." What now? Aziraphale was getting a bad feeling about what this might be.

"You can't get sick" Crowley exclaimed, almost to himself. "We can't get sick." He looked back at Aziraphale. "Do you think you caught something from a human?" It was rather accusatory.

Aziraphale was almost defensive back. "No! I was wondering more about-- a common human condition."

"Which one?"

"Err-- have you ever, um, say, kissed anyone?"

Crowley gaped. "You want to kiss someone?"

The angel nodded. "I think so."

A very strange expression crossed Crowley's face, before it went a careful blank. "Who, pray tell?"

Aziraphale stared at Crowley.

Crowley stared at Aziraphale.

Aziraphale nodded.

Crowley blinked-- Aziraphale could tell behind the sunglasses. "Wow" the demon said. "Well. Why didn't you say something?"

Aziraphale opened his mouth to point out that he was saying something, but Crowley grabbed the front of his shirt and was pressing his mouth against the angel's.

Oh. Oh.

Aziraphale pressed back, and felt Crowley's twisty tongue slip into his mouth. OH. Yes, that was not bad at all. It had always seemed unhygienic to Aziraphale, but now he knew why people went ahead with it.

Crowley pulled away and they stared at each other. "That better?" Crowley asked. Aziraphale grabbed his shirt and pulled him back to kiss him again. Now it was better.

Finally they stopped, although not out of need for air, more by common consensus. Even though they didn't breath, there was some kind of kissing reaction that left them breathing heavily.

Aziraphale carefully reached out and pulled Crowley's sunglasses off. Crowley's snake eyes blinked at him, looking expectant and somethinng else. The angel considered the demon closely for a moment. Patience was not one of the two or so virtues Crowley possessed, and he suddenly rubbed against Aziraphale in a way the latter found highly distracting.

He laughed, very sibilantly. "I didn't think angelsss were gendered" he smirked.

"I made an effort."

Crowley snickered. "I didn't think lussst wasss an accsseptable quality in an angel."

"Who said anything about lust?" Aziraphale asked in a shaky voice. Crowley sucked on his earlobe, biting gently, and Aziraphale moaned. Or whimpered. Or did both at once.

"What isss this, then?"

Aziraphale was scrambling for words. "It's You, Crowley, specifically."

Crowley suddenly became quite serious, and pulled away a bit. Aziraphale swallowed a groan. "You're going to get me into trouble with that" Crowley whispered.

Aziraphale, however, was determined not to let Crowley get away. "What's new?" he asked. "You're always in trouble. We always get into trouble together, anyway." Then he bit his lip, because it was true, but it felt odd to say it.

Crowley slowly cupped Aziraphale's face in his hands. Aziraphale tugged him closer.

Crowley looked nervous. "I don't know" he said, "if I can handle this. If I can deal...."

"You were an angel once" Aziraphale pointed out, suddenly feeling more sure of himself. "And, really, we're more alike than different. And more alike to each other than to...anyone else." They both stared at each other. They had thought as much, many times, over the years, and it had been implicitly understood between them, but never before had it just been said.

"You've found a way around 'Angels aren't supposed to feel lust'" Crowley objected. "But I know demons aren't supposed to feel...."

One of them had to say it, and Aziraphale knew it couldn't be Crowley. "Love."

"Right" Crowley looked a little woozy. Aziraphale leaned and kissed him gently on the mouth.

"We already know that you're not all bad--"

"--And you're not all good--"

"So we should just sort of be able to, carry on, I guess."

"Right" Crowley said, and shoved him against the wall.

And because Angels were all about Love, Aziraphale didn't Fall; and because Demons are quite familiar with Lust, Crowley, too, was able to acquit himself admirably. And both sides thought they were having a good (or bad) influence on the other.