Blurb: Aziraphale wakes up the morning after with no memory of the night before.
There are a few stories about one or the other losing their memories as part of their punishment from Heaven or Hell. And I read one story about how Crowley can't taste food which is why he is so uninterested in eating… So I thought, "what if Aziraphale doesn't like sleep because it impairs his memory?" And here we are.
I rated this T because there's no profanity and no sex scene, but the sex is implied clearly and early.
WHY ZIRA DOESN'T SLEEP
Aziraphale woke up with a sinking feeling.
He had no memory of going to bed.
Or why he was naked rather than wearing a pair of comfortable flannel pajamas he had for lounging. Or why he was making an Effort.
Or why Crowley was in bed with him, still dozing and probably also naked. (He was shirtless, but Aziraphale wasn't about to peek under the sheets to check the rest of the demon's body.)
Aziraphale took a deep breath and forced down the rising sense of panic. He felt that same fit of amnesia every time he woke up - the point where his memories just stopped, leaving him to deduce what had occurred and how it had led to his current state. There was an easy and self-evident explanation for the observable facts, Occam's Razor and whatnot. He had obviously slept with Crowley.
What he needed right now was a bracing cup of tea.
He eased out of the bed, careful not to disturb the slumbering demon. A quick miracle had him dressed in his pajamas and let him focus on the mess in his bedroom.
Feathers, black and white, were scattered about the floor in small piles; underclothes too.
The trail of garments continued in the hall where a framed page from an illuminated manuscript was hanging precariously on the wall. He followed the trail down the stairs, picking up clothes as he went: socks, pants, undershirts, belts, shirts, waistcoat, jackets, shoes. At last he reached the living room where things had apparently began. Crowley's glasses were scattered on the coffee table along with bottles of wine, mostly filled from their attempts to sober up.
Well, he wasn't hungover, so he at least had been coherent when this started.
His bowtie was discarded on the floor, and so was the loop of fabric that the demon insisted was a tie, but honestly no one believed that. He placed his clothes and Crowley's in two folded piles on the sofa and wandered into the kitchen to put the kettle on.
He looked out the window while he waited for the water to heat up, and then to steep. How was he going to explain to his best friend that he had no memory of their night together?
"Morning, Angel," Crowley said, sauntering up behind him and draping his arms over Aziraphale's shoulders. The demon had dressed himself in black, silken lounge pants that barely hung on his hips. He looked entirely too pleased with life in general and himself in particular.
"Crowley, you're awake!" Aziraphale exclaimed in greeting, spinning around to face his friend. He didn't mean to sound nervous.
"What's wrong?" Crowley asked, peering at him with those golden eyes. Aziraphale may have kept many secrets from Crowley over the millennia, but he wasn't very subtle about it.
"Um, about last night," he began, wringing his hands fretfully.
The effect of his words was immediate. He could see Crowley shutter himself, pulling away both physically and emotionally.
"If you're going to tell me -" the demon began and Aziraphale could just hear the pain of rejection in his voice.
"I'm telling you that we need to do that again," Aziraphale said in a rush, hoping to spare Crowley more anguish.
"Oh." Crowley hadn't been expecting that. The fight went completely out of him and was replaced with something akin to gloating. "Oh, well, let me check my schedule and get back to you." He slinked over to the tiny table in the angel's kitchen and sat down. "Would this afternoon be amenable, or were you hoping for a morning appointment?"
Aziraphale smiled and poured the tea. He set one cup in front of Crowley who blew across the surface until the liquid darkened into an inky, bitter espresso.
"The problem, you see," he said gingerly as he lowered himself into the other chair, "is that I went to sleep after. And I really wish I hadn't done that. In fact, I need you to make sure I don't do that again next time."
"Come on, now, Angel," Crowley said, sipping his drink. "We were both exhausted after stopping Armageddon and swapping bodies and not dying and…" He took a loud and meaningful slurp from his cup, his eyes meeting Aziraphale's before crinkling into a wink. "I'd say we both deserved a little nap after all that."
"Yes, but I don't sleep," Aziraphale primly pointed out.
"Everyone deserves a lie-in once in a while," Crowley said, taking another drink. "You were nattering on about it last night. 'Don't let me fall asleep, dear boy,'" he said in a credible mimic. "But come on, Angel. We saved the world! Even the Almighty took a day of rest once in a while."
"Yes, but…" Aziraphale sighed. He needed to explain this in the right way without further hurting Crowley's feelings, even accidentally. "Have you ever wondered why I don't sleep?"
Crowley shrugged. "Something about virtue and vigilance. Have you ever wondered why I don't eat?" he turned the tables.
"Something to do with the Almighty punishing you for the Fall of Man by making everything taste uninteresting," the angel surmised. "I think you mentioned something like that when we were deep in our cups when Moses was a lad."
Crowley shook his head at being so thoroughly understood. "To be honest, I've never wondered about your sleeping or not sleeping," he said. "Figured Gabriel gave you a reprimand or a sternly worded memo about it or something like that. All the more reason to enjoy yourself now. What's Heaven going to do to you now that they've tried the worst they can think of?"
"I don't sleep because," he paused to take a steadying breath. It was important for Crowley to understand him. "I forget."
Crowley snorted at him. "Just like you to tell a joke and forget the punchline."
"No," Aziraphale said with angelic calmness. He set aside his cup and looked across the table with deadly seriousness in his blue eyes. "Sleeping makes me forget what I was doing before I fall asleep, and the longer I'm asleep, the more I forget."
Crowley stared at him. "Come again?"
"A short catnap, and maybe I don't remember the last twenty minutes before I fall asleep," Aziraphale said. "If I sleep the entire night, I probably don't remember half of the day before."
"So you're saying…" Crowley couldn't bring himself to say it. He looked a little sick to his stomach.
"I remember us at the Ritz, toasting the world, and then," he waved his hands, "and then I woke up."
"No," Crowley breathed in horror. "No, you're -" But he couldn't accuse the angel of lying, not when his tongue could taste an uncomfortable truth in the air.
"It's always been like that, although it took me a few centuries to catch on, as you might imagine," Aziraphale admitted, feeling miserable. "But I do love you, Crowley. Absolutely and in ways that cannot be considered angelic. I may not remember what we said or did last night but, but, but I can guess. I mean, I have read a few books on the subject over the years. I've heard talk."
He paused to clear his throat. "But just because I thought about you like that every so often, I couldn't do anything. I was always too worried about what would happen if Above or Below found out. But that's not a problem anymore and I must've realized that yesterday and just... So I'm not sorry it happened but I do deeply regret that I fell asleep after. It's the sort of thing I'd very much like to remember. Do you understand, Dearest?"
Crowley looked at him, his head increasingly tilted until it nearly rolled off his shoulders. "You love me?"
"Yes, of course!" Aziraphale assured him. "Did I not… Did I not mention that yesterday? That feels like an important detail to gloss over."
Crowley shrugged and the gesture righted his head. "After we got started, it wasn't really the time for speeches."
"Well, maybe this next time, I can fix that," Aziraphale suggested.
Crowley chuckled. "Sure, yeah, tell yourself that, but if your second first time is going to be anything like your first, you're going to be a babbling mess the moment I start sucking on your earlobe." He sounded terribly proud of himself.
"Then I suppose I should tell you now, while I still have the gift of speech," said the angel with a soft smile. "I love you, my dear, deeply, madly, incurably. And I have for ages."
The demon turned away, his face slightly suffused with a blush. "Don't embarrass yourself, Angel," he chided with gruff affection.
That was as close to an admission of love as he would probably get out of Crowley for years and years, but Aziraphale would take it. He demurely slid his teacup back into position in front of him.
"If you say so, Dearest," he said and sipped his tea. "Now what was that about a morning appointment?"