Summary: Aziraphale has got a secret. Crowley wants to know what it is.
Categories: Slash Fanfic Characters: Aziraphale, Crowley, Hastur, Houseplant(s)
Warnings: Language (mild)
Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes
Word count: 3347 Read: 114
Published: 22 Mar 2008 Updated: 22 Mar 2008
One Way or Another by sticktothestory
Written for andremeese at the 2007 go_exchange on LiveJournal.
One Way or Another
Aziraphale has got a secret.
This is actually something Crowley has been suspecting for some time now—it's just that the knowledge is currently being made painfully clear by the 1844 leather-bound copy of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol lying face-down on the table between them, bathing in direct sunlight and mere seconds away from getting stained with Château Margaux.
It's funny, because Crowley could swear they did the Apocalypse already.
"You do know," he more or less manages to form through the fog in his human head, thinking vaguely of Aziraphale's propensity for spilling the beans when drunk—But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD, in his dreams—"You do know you can tell me anything, right?"
Aziraphale is giving him an odd sort of look. He is, in fact, looking at Crowley rather as though he has just suggested Aziraphale start selling his own faeces by the ounce in order to make an ironic statement about art and its role in modern society.
"Er," says Aziraphale carefully, and then, "Yes, well. I'm sure that's very kind, dear boy."
Crowley waits politely. When no beans appear to be forthcoming, he reaches for the bottle and leans in to pour the angel another glass.
"Actually," says Aziraphale thoughtfully, his chubby fingers toying with the stem in a way that makes Crowley wonder if it might perhaps be a good idea to sober up some, "There is one thing I've been meaning to talk to you about." He waves his hands dismissively.
"Go on." Crowley's eyes are certainly not following the gesture behind his sunglasses.
"Oh, nothing. It's just…Well, I suppose you wouldn't happen to know why Heaven is a non-smoking area, would you? I mean, it's nothing short of ridiculous the way they come down on a person when really, what harm could there possibly be?"
Crowley refills his own glass and makes sure to drain the bottle of every drop.
"And of course St. Peter's forever banging on about it, but I say, if he spent half the time doing his work instead, we wouldn't all be standing outside the gates for two hours, and—"
Experience has taught Crowley that two hours is nothing when St. Peter is broached.
So much for Monday.
On Tuesday, Crowley spends four hours seated in the Bentley, parked across the street from a Soho bookshop, eyes glued to a pair of binoculars he doesn't really need, but which certainly add to the overall coolness of his general detective activities.
Customers are entering and leaving the shop at an alarming rate, most of them carrying suspiciously book-shaped parcels under their arms. Zooming in reveals happy little snowmen on the wrapping paper. Crowley almost drops the binoculars.
Wednesday cowers and assumes the foetal position as Crowley storms into the bookshop, marches up to the counter, and slams his hands down on either side of Aziraphale, who does eventually deign to look up from cataloguing the new stock, obscenely unimpressed.
"You," hisses Crowley furiously, "are hiding something."
"My dear boy, if you would kindly watch your tongue; these are first editions."
Crowley, not taking his eyes away from Aziraphale, points to the nearest bookshelf and snaps his fingers. A thin layer of dust glows bright red.
Aziraphale's cheeks appear to be affected as well. "Now look here—"
"And then there's the letting me finish my dessert, the being careless with your books, the fact that you're wearing a shirt that matches your trousers, and, of course, the customers."
"What about the customers? What have they got to do with it?"
Crowley pushes his sunglasses down the bridge of his nose. "They've got you gift-wrapping."
"Obviously, customer service is part of the core values of any self-respecting enterprise."
"Core values?" Crowley repeats, causing Aziraphale to look suitably embarrassed. He leans forward and swiftly presses his advantage: "Look, angel, I'm worried about you. I think—right, I'll just go ahead and say it—I think you may be developing interests."
"You know? Interests?" He points to the page Aziraphale was inspecting a minute ago, which features a large black-and-white photograph of Oscar Wilde.
Aziraphale glances at the picture and back up at Crowley. "Well, Oscar is hardly what one might call a new interest," he mutters, but Crowley can't help noticing the way Aziraphale is squirming in his seat. It looks uncomfortable.
"So," he ventures, fiddling with one of Aziraphale's pens and utterly failing to sound casual even to his own ears, "Not a crush, then?"
For a moment, Aziraphale just stares at him in that unnerving way he has—the one that makes Crowley want to spill ink on those pages, want to kick the counter in frustration, want to bite his lips bloody, want to do something to somebody, to make it clear once and for all that he is not a sodding book for Aziraphale to touch and read and interpret as fancy strikes.
What he does, however, is clear his throat.
"Right," he says, pushing away from the counter, "I'll find out one way or another."
"I'll go to Midnight Mass with you."
"We're still excommunicated."
"I'll do your job for seven years."
"You owe me twelve."
"I'll let you pick the Pope next time."
"Not even for the U.S. President."
"I'll tell you how I really got those burn marks on my arse in 1973."
"No need, dear. Michael is quite happy to share the photographs."
"Daniel 2:47, angel."
"Proverbs 11:13, dear boy."
"I know all about your dirty little secret," Crowley announces triumphantly as he enters the bookshop, closing the door on an actual customer. "Gabriel came to me in a dream."
Aziraphale crosses his legs at the knees and raises an eyebrow.
"I didn't expect you to fall for it, of course," says Crowley, "So I came up with this instead."
He snatches the book Aziraphale has just price-tagged and flees.
Later that night, in the privacy of his flat, he thinks that if he had to do it all over again, he probably would not have picked Where's Wally, but then hindsight is always twenty-twenty.
"—other. Yes, hallo?"
"Aziraphale, come quick, something horrible is happening!"
"Crowley? What's the matter? Are you all right? Hallo? Oh, both—"
When Aziraphale's laboured breathing first echoes in the staircase, Crowley knows he's got a good minute before the door will burst open. He puts out his cigarette, gets up from the couch, and saunters over to the window sill, where he strikes a theatrical pose, houseplant in hand.
Twenty seconds later, his unlocked door doesn't so much swing open as out of existence.
"Aziraphale," says Crowley dramatically, "How I wish it hadn't come to this."
For a moment, it's all Aziraphale can do to stand there, hunched over with his hands on his knees, puffing like a steam train. Then he looks up, and Crowley thinks stupidly that the redness in his face brings out the blue of his eyes something lovely.
"Crowley," Aziraphale manages, "Please tell me you are about to be violently discorporated."
"I'm afraid not," says Crowley solemnly, remembering himself. He pushes open the window, exposing his prayer plant to the stinging cold. "But if you don't tell me your secret, today's reject is going to suffer the consequences."
Aziraphale licks his lips. "You can't be serious."
"Oh, I think you'll find I am," says Crowley smugly, "Dead serious."
The plant quivers delicately, though with fear, cold, or fardo, it's hard to say.
"No," clarifies Aziraphale, "I meant you can't be serious—this is only the first floor."
"So what if it is," snaps Crowley, "It's still a long way down. For a plant."
"Surely, you could have bothered to come up with something more bloodcurdling."
"Hey, I'll have you know—"
"You've got a perfectly good rubbish compactor, after all. The means to boil water."
"—talking to a well-respected professional, and how would you like—"
"Even with nothing but a book of matches, or a pair of scissors, I imagine one might—"
"—came into your office and told you how to do your jo—Are you disappointed?"
"Well," says Aziraphale, pursing his lips, "It's not as though you've gone out of your way to make an effort here. What do you usually do to plants when they don't meet your standards?"
Crowley sighs, reaches over, and slams the window shut.
The prayer plant is too busy being afraid of Aziraphale to notice.
"Fine," says Crowley, sounding put-upon, "Tell me or I'll set fire to the blasted thing."
Crowley takes off his sunglasses.
Aziraphale miracles them back on.
Crowley frowns, takes them off again, and starts the plant smoking with a glare.
"All right," shouts Aziraphale, just as the prayer plant is beginning to live up to its name. He rushes forward and takes the flowerpot in his arms protectively. "I don't see why this is so important to you anyway—you're just going to laugh."
"What makes you think that?" asks Crowley, smirking like a lunatic.
Aziraphale sinks down onto the couch, motioning for Crowley to come sit beside him. If he's noticed the Wally book, he's tactfully withholding judgment. "It's so embarrassing, and at the same time such a silly thing to be embarrassed about, I suppose."
He peers into Crowley's face, looking for something again.
"Come on," says Crowley uncomfortably, "Out with it."
Aziraphale fixes his eyes on the plant in his lap. "There's this dream I keep having."
Well. Only two ways for those to spell trouble. "Is it a good one?"
"It's a very good one," admits Aziraphale softly. He rubs at his face. "And I keep thinking about it, too. It's terribly distracting. I'm not getting any work done—yesterday I shelved The True Confessions of Adrian Albert Mole under M."
"At least you're not sorting them by title anymore. Anyway, I thought you didn't sleep?"
"I thought you didn't enjoy children's literature, but you're still sitting on a picture book."
"You do realise you'll have to be a lot nicer to me if you want me to help you."
"Help me?" Aziraphale looks up, smiling ruefully. "I don't see how you could, dear boy."
Crowley carefully considers his options and decides to do what he does best—go for broke. "Maybe not as such," he says with a nonchalance he is quite painfully lacking in, "But I could always teach you how to help yourself."
The world doesn't end as the words leave his mouth. There is, of course, the inevitable lapse in conversation, and Aziraphale's smile falters for the briefest of moments, and Crowley very deliberately does not do anything to either encourage or dispel the idea that he is Only Joking.
"You're very kind to offer," says Aziraphale eventually, but there's no malice in it.
He's giving Crowley that look again.
Sometimes, in the quiet of his own mind, Crowley can picture one day forgiving Him.
They are lying face to face in Crowley's bed. Aziraphale is watching him expectantly.
At first it was a little disconcerting the way undressing in front of Crowley didn't seem to faze him in the slightest, but then Crowley remembered that shame is a punishment God gives to those who fail Him rather than a default state of being.
He wonders, briefly, if this is a smart thing for Aziraphale to be doing.
Then Aziraphale places a hand on his clothed arm. "Crowley," he says simply, and his voice washes over Crowley's thoughts like mulled wine on long winter nights.
"Closssse your eyes."
"Lie down on your back."
Aziraphale rolls over and Crowley carefully scoots closer, propping himself up on his elbow. "Tell me about this dream you keep having," he prompts.
Aziraphale laughs softly. "I—all right, I'm in the bookshop and, er, a customer comes in."
"No doubt asking after the latest selection of well-thumbed bodice rippers."
"He's…rather cross with me, as it happens," says Aziraphale slowly, not opening his eyes, "Pushes me up against one of the bookcases. Biting me and kissing me."
Watching Aziraphale's lips move as he talks, Crowley can certainly see the appeal.
"I try to fight him off, as it were. He takes a hold of my wrists, wrestling me into the back room, pinning me down onto the table…" He pauses. "I—I'm manifesting."
"Manifesting? Oh. Right now, you mean," says Crowley stupidly, not glancing down to where the burgundy sheets cling to Aziraphale's hips.
"These curious human bodies," murmurs Aziraphale, in something akin to wonder.
"Yeah, not the time to be singing the praises of His Creation, angel," bites out Crowley, who is having a spot of difficulty with his own curious body at the moment, "I believe you were getting it on with a piece of wood and a randy bibliophile?"
"Actually, he doesn't seem to like books much, the way he sends them flying off the table with absolutely no regard for—"
"Right, not a fan of the written word, then," interrupts Crowley, trying desperately to focus on the mental image of Ligur in a corset. "Makes up for it in looks, does he?"
"Well, you know me," says Aziraphale dismissively, "Tall, dark, handsome, and a healthy aversion to all things remotely related to Gabriel."
"A demon? Why, Aziraphale, you kinky bastard—"
"Half the Host of Heaven fits that description, I assure you."
"Whatever you say, angel," says Crowley around the funny feeling in his chest. "Do go on."
Aziraphale's eyes drift shut again, and he takes a moment before continuing, "He undoes his zip." He swallows. "I can feel him pressing against my thigh. He's, er, very erect."
"And he is not the only one," observes Crowley, staring at the tent in the sheets. "Maybe you should try touching yourself now—just picture what he's doing to you, and stroke gently."
Self-consciously, Aziraphale raises one arm to rest above his head, as the other slides down under the covers. Crowley tries to convince himself that armpit hair is a proper demonic kink.
"My clothes have vanished. He forces me to turn and bend forward over the table." The most perfectly delicious sounds are coming from Aziraphale's lips in between the words, and Crowley sidles ever closer, mesmerised. "I think he's going to put it in me, and I struggle harder to get away, but the next thing I feel is his hands on my back, coaxing out my wings."
Crowley 's mouth is dry as dust. "Try squeezing it a little. Run your thumb over the tip"
Aziraphale moans. "He's touching them. Stroking them," he gasps, "Smelling them."
There is no way Aziraphale could not have noticed Crowley's hard-on pressing into his thigh, but it seems to be the last thing on his mind.
Underneath the sheets, Aziraphale's hand is working at a steady pace, and he is whispering so softly Crowley has to put his head on the angel's chest so as not to miss anything.
"How does it feel?" he says hoarsely.
"Not enough," manages Aziraphale, "Needs more friction."
And he shifts so that Crowley's thigh is between his legs.
"Yes, that's it," groans Aziraphale, as though the world has not just come crashing down on their heads, "I want him to run it along the tendons, want to feel him getting off on my feathers—I want them sticky and messy and undeniably his.
"But instead, he puts his hands on my hips and starts making these obscene back-and-forth movements between my thighs, barely brushing my balls, and even though I want so badly for him to take me, he just rubs himself to orgasm, and I have to let it happen—wanting."
Aziraphale is flushed and panting and whispering profanities as though they were prayers.
If anything could ever be worth Falling for, Crowley thinks, it has surely got to be this.
He reaches down between their legs and takes hold of Aziraphale's cock.
"O-O-Oh-Oh. Oh," moans Aziraphale, and then, throwing back his head, "Hastur."
In a second, Crowley is going to feel the full force of what has just happened.
He will move his hand away awkwardly, and he will wipe it on the sheets, and he will try to make light of the situation by telling Aziraphale: "And that's how you do it."
Just a couple of moments from this one, Aziraphale is going to realise that he has said a very wrong thing indeed, and he will cover his eyes with his hand, and Crowley will get up to go to the lavatory and not come back out until he is absolutely certain that Aziraphale has left.
But right now, in this moment, they are still holding each other close.
"Hi. This is Anthony Crowley. Uh. I'm probably not in right now, or asleep, and busy, or something, but leave a message after the tone and I'll get right back to you. Ciao."
"Look, Crowley, I don't know what to say. Please pick up this contraption you call a phone.
I didn't actually say 'Hastur,' if that's what you were thinking. I—I sneezed.
You missed our luncheon, and I still owe you dinner, and there's a Mouton-Rothschild just sitting around in my liquor cabinet, and I've no one to drink it with, and…I miss you."
Crowley is standing by the duck pond in St. James's Park when Aziraphale finds him.
"Did you honestly expect me to believe you sneezed?"
"To be fair, dear, you also believed I'd never played with myself before, when you know perfectly well I've spent over six thousand years in this corporeal form."
There's an uneasy moment of silence when Crowley doesn't rise to the bait.
At length, Aziraphale waves a hand at the duck pond. "How come you're not feeding them?"
"Well, it's your job to bring the bread, isn't it?"
This time, the sulky silence stretches on for hours. Aziraphale is just beginning to wonder if coming here was such a good idea after all, and should he perhaps have written a long letter instead, when Crowley finally turns to look at him.
"I have fancied you," he says carefully, "for a very long time now."
"Yes," admits Aziraphale, "I rather thought that was the problem."
"In fact, I used to be crazy jealous of Oscar Wilde."
"My dear," says Aziraphale affectionately, "Oscar was but a poor substitute."
"And I would certainly never have let him fondle my wings, dream or no dream."
It doesn't matter how many humans think they can say the same about their beloved, thinks Aziraphale, because when Crowley smiles the sun really does come out at night.
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