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Secrets & the Serpentine by HJ Bender

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Secrets & the Serpentine by HJ Bender


Summary: Aziraphale has a fear and a secret. It places a distance between himself and the one who knows him best, until he learns that he doesn't have to face it alone.
Categories: Slash Fanfic Characters: Aziraphale
Genres: Romance
Warnings: Language (mild)
Series: None
Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes
Word count: 2087 Read: 265
Published: 10 Sep 2005 Updated: 10 Sep 2005

n/a by HJ Bender

Secrets & the Serpentine
Author: H.J. Bender
Rating: T+ for C/A slash, brief language.
Summary: Aziraphale has a fear and a secret. It places a distance between himself and the one who knows him best, until he learns that he doesn't have to face it alone.
Disclaimer: Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett own Good Omens and everything to do with it. I only own this fic.
Author?s Notes: Inspirational credit goes to J.W. Waterhouse and quantum_witch. :)



“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?”
-Ernest Hemingway


Aziraphale disliked sleep, not because he considered it a waste of time and completely unnecessary to a being such as himself, but because it worried him. It bore too much of a resemblance to death, and he had heard the stories of angels who fell asleep and never woke up again, or who came round only to find themselves in a very dark place where no light would ever shine on them again.

It could all very well be propaganda from Above being circulated to discourage earth-dwelling employees from participating in mortal activities when they were supposed to be doing their jobs, but Aziraphale wasn’t about to place his word against that of his superiours, at least not unless he was positive that nothing terrible were going to happen to him.

Unfortunately, that feeling of low-key dread concerning sleep staunchly remained planted into the very fibres of his immortal being like a splinter in flesh. Truth be told, he was only a little bit curious about it, but curious in the sort of way a mortal might be when wondering what high-amperage electrocution might feel like, a dangerous, half-mad sort of curiosity. He never discussed it with anyone (i.e., Crowley), instead opting to disguise his discomfort if the matter ever surfaced and come off in a rather ‘tut-tut, what laziness’ sort of attitude.

It would have been one thing if Crowley actually believed him, but he didn’t. Not for a single second.

“I can always tell when you’re lying to me,” Crowley had said to him one day out of the blue, “because your face gets red and you start to talk fast, and you can’t look at me.”

He grinned lopsidedly and tossed a stone across the Serpentine. It skipped six times and then sunk.

Aziraphale, standing beside him, said nothing.

“But what really makes me wonder,” Crowley went on, skipping stones across the water, “is why you would lie to me in the first place. I know it doesn’t sit well with you, being what you are and all that, so it really makes me curious as to what you’re trying to hide from me.”

Skip skip skip skip skip skip plunk.

“I thought we had an Agreement about this sort of thing. No secrets.”

Skip skip skip skip skip plunk.

“The Agreement didn’t cover personal involvement,” Aziraphale murmured, hands buried in his coat pockets. “My secrets are my business.”

Skip splash.

Crowley turned to look at him.

“I know you best, Aziraphale. Don’t try to deny it.”

“Well I’m denying it, dear. Only God knows me best.”

“I’m not talking about God, Up There,” Crowley snapped, stabbing a finger first skyward and then down at his own feet. “I’m talking about here, on Earth, right now. You are your own person, Aziraphale. You make your own decisions based upon what you think, not what God thinks. And don’t even try playing the Ineffable Plan card, either. I’m sick to death of hearing that bloody word every time our conversation turns theological. In fact, I’m sick to death of having theological conversations with you. Why can’t we ever talk about something different once in a while? Why do our whole lives have to revolve around Heaven and Hell?”

“Perhaps because they do?”

Crowley scowled and looked away, brow furrowed in contemplation.

“What kind of human being talks about nothing but their job? It’s ridiculous,” he muttered.

“What would you like to talk about, then?” the angel offered.

“Something else. Something besides the Apocalypse and Heaven and Hell and what the fuck we’re going to do with ourselves now that it’s all over.”

He paused, and then gazed at the heavy grey rain clouds forming high above the trees of Hyde Park.

“I want to know your secrets,” he said at last. “I want to know what you’re so afraid of. I can feel it, you know. Demons. We can sense these things.”

Aziraphale sighed heavily as if asked to do a favour he’d rather not.

“Fine, if it helps us along conversationally: I am afraid of falling from grace, of losing my job, of losing a dear friend, of being completely alone, of being trapped in a lift with no lights, you know, senseless and irrational rubbish like that.”

Crowley shook his head and smiled. It wasn’t a happy smile.

“You’re lying again. You’re afraid of something else, something that you’re not telling me.”

Aziraphale looked very sombre all of the sudden.

“I think you already know what it is.”

“Tell me anyway.”

“I won’t. I’m not that stupid, Crowley. Don’t forget, I know you best as well.”

“Then you ought to know by now that I don’t think you’re stupid enough to fall for one of my tricks, even if I were trying to trick you.”

There was a pause between them, and thunder rumbled in the distance.

“I’m afraid of falling asleep and never waking,” came the hesitant murmur from the angel.

Crowley continued to gaze out at the water.

“That’s it?” he said. “What you weren’t telling me?”

“Why, do you not believe me?”

“I believe you. I just can’t believe you kept a trivial thing such as that a secret from me for this long.”

“Well,” said Aziraphale apologetically, “I know you fancy yourself a sleeper and so I… well, I didn’t want to say anything to hurt or offend you-”

“The truth never hurt or offended anyone,” Crowley said with unexpected vehemence. “It’s secrets and lies that hurt and offend. You ought to know that.”

“I do know that.”

“Then why did you do it to me?”

Aziraphale had never felt this horrible in a long, long time.

Crowley was inconsolable.

“I thought we trusted each other. We made an Agreement, we kept up our end of the bargain, we never stabbed each other in the back -at least not metaphorically speaking- and we could have had a really good, er, reasonable thing going for us. Why did you allow this to go on for as long as it did?”

“You never mentioned anything about it before!” cried Aziraphale. “I simply assumed you weren’t aware and so I decided it was best if I just kept it-”

“Never assume anything, angel. Assumptions are what get nice people into trouble and what makes a king into a tyrant. I’ve seen it for myself, I can admit to having a part in the process when everything goes to hell, so don’t assume that just because I never confronted you about it that I wasn’t wondering what was going on with you the whole time.”

The angel stood stock still.

“My dear,” he sullenly whispered, “you’re bleeding.”

And he stared at the two trails of crimson beading slowly out from underneath the cover of Crowley’s sunglasses and running down the gentle curve of his cheeks. The demon reached up and removed his sunglasses, revealing golden irises lost in a sea of red, and wiped his eyes on his sleeve. The blood smeared across his cheeks until he remembered he could will the stains away, and the scarlet smudges disappeared from his face, his eyes returning to their normal colour.

He smiled thinly and sniffed before sliding his sunglasses back on.

“And here I thought I was seeing red because I was angry.”

Aziraphale looked pale and worried. It was only proper; he had never seen Crowley’s tears before. He didn’t think demons were physically capable of crying, but it seems that in some dark, twisted way of their own that they wholly were. It was a revelation, but he found that his concern outweighed his surprise at this time.

He stepped to Crowley’s side and took the gloved hand in his own bare one, and they stood together without saying a word. The sky growled overhead and began to drop a gentle curtain of drizzle onto the park to announce its arrival. The few bystanders hurried away seeking dryer climes and left the two men standing by themselves at the lake’s shore.

“There’s one other thing,” Aziraphale said at last in a hushed murmur, “something else I haven’t told you. I’ve been keeping it for a while now and…”

He trailed off.

“Does it frighten you?” asked Crowley.


“…does it have anything to do with me?”


Crowley turned to look at the angel.

“Do I frighten you, Aziraphale?”

There came a smile.


“Then what are you afraid of?”

Words somehow didn’t seem appropriate to Aziraphale right now, so he chose not to use them. With or without them, it made no difference; Crowley knew.

“Come on,” he said, tugging gently on the angel’s hand. “Let’s get out of the rain.”


The demon opened his eyes and panted needlessly for breath, forgetting himself amidst the mind-numbing haze of euphoria; yellow irises were almost obscured by the dilated black orbs in their centres, the blood coursing through his body still hot from his climax. He swiped a hand through his damp, disheveled hair and propped himself up on trembling arms.

“There,” he said in a rough whisper as he grinned slightly, “that wasn’t so frightening, was it?”

Beneath him Aziraphale stopped shuddering and relaxed, cheeks flushed a deep shade of pink like a cherub from a Renaissance painting, blue-eyed and golden-haired, and sighed contentedly. He didn’t answer the question, but reached up to snake his arms about Crowley’s neck and bring their mortal flesh together again in a full-bodied kiss.

The rain pattered on the window in Crowley’s bedroom, making the room seem more cosy and the bed warmer, if also bit sticky and sweaty. But these small unpleasantries were not wished away, for it was all part of a greater experience, an experience that had just happened for the first time, in fact, and -judging from its immediate success- appeared as if it would continue to happen frequently from that point on.

A short while later they lay against one another beneath the white satin covers, sated and warm and pleasantly drowsy. There was an afterglow so radiant that it was almost visible, and it would have been a dream come true to be able to lie together like this forever, just as they were in this single moment, naked and so lovingly entangled in each other’s limbs that it would have been hard to tell that they had ever been two separate entities.

Or at least that’s what Aziraphale imagined a dream come true to be like.

“Teach me how,” he said softly. “Show me how to dream. I’m not afraid to close my eyes anymore.”

“Dreaming is something you’re going to have to learn on your own,” said Crowley, tucking himself around the angel’s body and nuzzling his ear. “Just close your eyes and think of nothing for as long as you can. Lie still and listen to the silence in your head.”

Aziraphale found Crowley’s hand beneath the sheets and gave it a gentle squeeze.

“Promise you’ll be here when I wake up?”

“Yes, I promise.”

And the angel closed his eyes and soon fell fast asleep.

And when he awoke, Crowley was there beside him.


Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.