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Nightmares at Bay

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“Anthony J. Crowley, you rugrat, I would highly appreciate it if you remove the word of God from your mouth this instant.”

At the moment present, a mentally regressed man-shaped vessel sat childishly on the rug of his partner-turned-caretaker’s Arabian-knit rug, absentmindedly gumming at the edge of a first edition Holy Bible. He was dressed comfortably in a black, velvet, short-sleeved getup, fit for a day fraught with relaxation. His tush was taped into a fresh nappy not too long ago, thanks to his caregiver’s careful attention, as a rash would not be tolerated by either of them. Aziraphale admired him and smiled softly at the boy before nudging the precious novel from his charge’s grip. Crowley has barely even noticed the angel had taken it from him, as Aziraphale hoisted the child (of mind, at least) onto his hip. While the adult-oriented Crowley was as rebellious a brat as the Lord made them, this version of the principality’s other half was utterly compliant. In such a way that Aziraphale had read about [1], Crowley’s psyche was hiding from the stressors of his everyday life, living out a reality he had never known in time prior to the present: a childhood. His mind sought sanctuary from the horrors of living out his days as an ex-communicated hellion, and in Aziraphale’s parental clutch, he properly found such safety. 

Ever since the two had agreed to begin this new facet of their relationship not too long ago, the angel took initiative to purchase a few...specific items to accommodate Crowley’s needs when in his headspace. One of those items, of course, being a high chair, to which Aziraphale placed him into once they’d entered the kitchen. While supernatural entities did not need to consume sustenance whatsoever, Aziraphale made use of Crowley’s “down time” to fill his celestial body with the goods his elder mindset would push away in a moment's hush. The angel snapped on the little tray to his chair, to which he hummed softly as he manifested freshly cut strawberries, blueberries, and an assortment of other finger-sized fruits for the boy to pick at. 

“Go on, then,” Aziraphale grinned as he sat next to him. “It’s all yours. Afterwards, it’s time for bed, darling.” 

Sheepishly, Crowley peered down at the contents of the nighttime snack placed before him before he began to bring some slices up to his mouth. After a while, the demon-child [2] had finished eating and was beginning to grow fussy in his drowsiness. When in such a state, Crowley became rather nonverbal in nature, yet Aziraphale could always figure out what it was his boy needed when his words had failed him: this time, it appeared to be some well-deserved rest. Watching Crowley pout and reach out for him made Aziraphale’s heart simply dissipate to goo. 

However on this Earth could he resist? 

The blond lifted the babe from the chair which confined him and held him close as he brought him to his own bedroom, equipped with a Queen-sized bed large enough for an ethereal being—such as himself—and his (rather big) baby to sprawl out comfortably [3].

Once Aziraphale had situated himself comfortably with Anthony in his arms, he snapped his fingers and a warm bottle of fresh milk materialised out of thin air and into his ready hand. An overtly tired Crowley furrowed his brow at the container of liquid, curling closer into the angel’s embrace. Aziraphale exhaled contentedly out of his nose, planting a kiss to his tufts of auburn hair, which had become quite hectic and in need of a good brushing come the morning. The nipple of the bottle was carefully guided into the child’s mouth, who let out a happy noise as thanks. 

Whenever regressed to such a state, Aziraphale couldn’t help but admire the sparkling amber beacons that were Crowley’s eyes, now on full display that the angel had utter control over his dear boy’s wardrobe choices [4]. The babe would have moments drifting in between the astral planes of lucidity and slumber, yet Aziraphale tempted him to remain awake until he drained the entire bottle. When all was said and done, Aziraphale lifted Crowley onto his shoulder to coax a few burps from the depths of his stomach, to which he was highly successful; thankfully, no spit-up was evoked from such chambers, and Aziraphale sighed contentedly as Crowley snuggled up to him. The demon-child popped his thumb into his mouth, closed his eyes, and hoped to be swept away in sleep. The angel was quick to miracle a pacifier in the digit’s place, drawing the boy ever-close to his chest. 

Many hours later, hellish cries pierced angelic ears. Aziraphale’s eyelids shot open, heart completely shattered at the sight of the one he loved so genuinely in so much emotional stress and turmoil. Crowley wailed and wailed—a nightmare, assumedly. 

“Oh, my darling,” Aziraphale’s voice cracked with sadness over Crowley’s sobs. The blond upheaved the heavy duvet covers off of them both before he took up the crying boy into his arms and rocked him gently, hoping to alleviate his poignant ailments. 

“Y-y-you w-were n’ th’ bookshop and, and, and—“

“Shh, shh, it’s alright,” the angel rubbed calming circles along his charge’s shivering back. “Take your time. Tell me about your dream.”

Crowley wrapped his arms around Aziraphale’s neck so tight, he would certainly have given a koala’s young a run for their money. He burrowed his snivelling nose deeper into the crook of the principality’s shoulder, who simply continued to bounced him ever-so lightly up and down. 

“There was f-fire e’erywhere n’,” he took a shaky breath. “I couldn’t find you. I thought you were dead.” Tears slid down his rosy cheeks, which were swiftly swept away by the pad of Aziraphale’s thumb. 

Crowley’s caregiver turned his head upwards toward the ceiling, as if in a plea to the Lord to impede on any sobbing that would be done on his behalf. He looked back down at the boy, who continued to cry openly. The hand that supported his bottom began to notice some apparent dampness, indicating Crowley’s usage of the nappy that swaddled his bum. Aziraphale figured he would act hastily to change him before a fresh floodgate of tears opened up.

“Papa, no!”

The angel gaped visibly, for this was the first time he’d heard his beloved call him by such a title—one that the boy had chosen, all on his own, for him. Aziraphale beamed quietly before responding to his opposition. 

“I’m sorry, dearest, but Papa certainly does not want his little one to get a rash, now does he?” Aziraphale retorted before he apparated a fresh diaper onto his charge. 

The elder took one final glance into the gaze of the shaken-up child: in those same yellow eyes that once allowed him to navigate the halls of Hell fearlessly, that halted Armageddon itself, that Aziraphale sought endlessly to behold in his personal contemplation, terror now took root. Aziraphale felt his blood boil with adamant anger—he never wanted Crowley to have to go through such feelings of dread ever again, under no circumstances. The angel straightened his spine and cuddled him closer to take in his sweet, infantile scent. 

“You have no reason to fret, Crowley,” Aziraphale assured. “I am alive and well, those days are long behind us now.” He felt a few hesitant nods against his breast. 

After about a few minutes more of Aziraphale gently swaying the frightened boy in his grasp, his cries were now fully at bay, and yet Crowley appeared completely awake. His Papa thought for a moment before turning his bedside lamp, dim enough to both not burn either of their sleep-ridden eyes and properly reevaluate them both back into the comfort of the mattress. With one arm, Aziraphale supported the child’s neck with a strength unparalleled, whilst the other opened up the same book that Crowley had been teething on hours before. The angel knew that his little one enjoyed the soothing tone of his voice, and he deviously planned to lull the boy back to sleep with such a tactic in mind. 

Crowley began to whimper at the lack of attention his Papa was paying him until the softest of kisses were planted upon the baby’s brow, hushing him immediately. Such a needy thing, he is—yet, not a soul would find Aziraphale kvetching about it. 

“Little one, I love you as deep as the ocean blue,” whispered the angel. “No nightmare shall ever plague your dreams, not while I am present” [5].

Despite all that these two had fought through to be together, not a singularity in the universe’s history could ever possibly keep them apart. 

In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth…”

 

[1] On the internet, of course…with the safe search on. 

[2] Not really, he wasn’t—although, Aziraphale quite liked to joke that he could be when tired. 

[3] Crowley took great pleasure in a sleeping position Aziraphale came to know as the “starfish.” 

[4] If it were up to Aziraphale full-time, he’d crush those ridiculous steampunk shades beneath his heel in a flap of his incredulously-groomed wing. No hesitation, whatsoever. 

[5] Which was always.