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You Put Your Arms Around Me (and I'm home)

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Crowley had never been particularly good at being a demon, but that was only because he didn’t particularly care about being a demon.

Some of his old coworkers, they were all over the whole infernal creature of darkness thing, absolutely drooling at the opportunity to throw virgins into volcanoes or drown babies in musty swamps, all hail Satan, praise to the dark masters and whatnot.

Crowley, on the other hand, had never really…

Given a shit. At all.

He’d never liked Hell (to be fair, it wasn’t exactly a likable place), and the moment opportunity had presented itself, the moment Beelzebub said they needed someone to go up there and make some trouble , Crowley had packed his metaphorical bags.

Earth was… remarkable. Humans were so creative, so full of curiosity, it only made sense for Crowley to encourage them, to push them towards knowledge.

And, honestly, it all seemed to working out so far. The world was wonderful, really (with a few exceptions—the only good thing about the 14th century was that it was over ).

Take beds, for instance. Marvellous things, beds. Especially beds near windows, where the sunlight could warm a particular demon’s feet in the morning. Especially beds with thick, weighted blankets and large, fluffy pillows and ridiculously soft silk sheets.

Especially beds where a certain angel was lying with his arms wrapped around Crowley’s middle.

“Morning, angel,” Crowley mumbled, burrowing further into his pillow.

Aziraphale chuckled. “Good morning, dear.”

“Sleep well?”

“Not quite,” the angel admitted. “I never could find a good stopping point in that book I was reading, you see, so I simply… didn’t stop.”

Crowley rolled over to face his (ridiculous) angel. “How long have you just been lying there ?” he asked.

Aziraphale blushed. “Not too long,” he muttered.

“Angel, we’ve discussed this—”

“Well, what was I supposed to do—”

“It’s creepy —”

“You just look so peaceful —”

“Like that one vampire from the—you know the one, the vampire movie, the one that made everyone want to fuck vampires—”

“Oh! Oh, yes, I know the ones, people used to come into the shop and ask me about them—”

“Yes, well, you need to stop , because if either of us gets to be a fuckable vampire, it’s me —”

Crowley !”

“What?” the demon asked. “I’m the—I’m the spooky one —”

Neither of us is being the— good Lord , Crowley,” Aziraphale said, rolling his eyes.

Crowley huffed. “Point is,” he said, rubbing his eyes, “ Point is , no one likes it when people watch them sleep. It’s… weird .”

Aziraphale rolled his eyes. “Because everything else about us is so normal,” he countered.

“Oh, don’t you start,” Crowley said. “ You’re the one who insists we—we blend in , what with the buying groceries and all that. I was fine with being not normal , to start with.”

“Fine,” Aziraphale conceded, but he didn’t sound at all pleased.

For a moment they simply lay in bed together, Aziraphale still with his arms around Crowley’s middle, the morning light making his fluffy white hair look like a halo.

And then, lo, the Angel of the Lord spoketh unto the Serpent, “Fancy some breakfast?”

Crowley sighed and stretched, popping his back and his neck. “Should I get dressed?” he asked.

“Oh, there’s no need for that,” the angel insisted. “I picked up the things for eggs benedict yesterday morning, actually. We have all that spinach you pulled from the garden and I just thought it’d be a rather lovely—”

Crowley interrupted him with a light kiss.

“Morning,” he repeated.

“Good morning, love.”

Crowley beamed.

 

It was, much to everyone’s surprise, Crowley who did all the cooking at Dove’s Landing.

Aziraphale had tried, at first, but after the chicken had ended up burnt on the outside and raw on the inside and they’d had to toss out the skillet, they both agreed that it’d probably be better if he stuck to eating food instead of cooking it.

(He did, of course, also help with the tidying up afterward.)

One thing the angel could make, however, was tea, and so as Crowley gathered the spinach and eggs and whatever other nonsense the angel had decided was an essential ingredient in eggs fucking benedict (what sort of absolutely nonsense —who the fuck was Benedict ?), Aziraphale got to work putting the kettle on and setting out their mugs.

“They’re having an art festival downtown today,” he said as he placed the mugs aside to steep (one, white with a handle that looked like angel wings, would later be topped with only a single sugar cube and a splash of milk; the other, black with a barbed tail for the handle, would contain seven sugar cubes and an amount of milk that leaves the tea more white than brown).

“Good for them,” Crowley replied as he carefully cracked the eggs into the swirling pot of boiling water.

“Yes, well, I was thinking maybe it’d be nice for us to attend,” Aziraphale continued. “You know, to get out of the house. Get involved in the community, all that.”

“What on earth would we even do at an art festival?” Crowley asked. “Neither of us are any good at it—”

“We wouldn’t be doing the art, dear,” Aziraphale pointed out. “Although, I have considered taking up knitting or pottery, lately—but mostly we would just be enjoying some fresh air and admiring the work of—”

“How many food trucks are going to be there, angel?”

Aziraphale pouted. “Maybe one or two…”

Crowley raised an eyebrow.

“Alright, six, but one of them does gyros and it’s been so long, and it really would be nice to see everything, our walls are so bare—and besides, if we went to all the trouble of saving humanity—” Crowley scoffed. They’d mostly just given an all-powerful preteen a pep talk— “we may as well—we ought to support their creative efforts!”

“Fine, alright, we’ll go to the blasted art festival. Maybe they’ll have some pretentious artisanal micro home brew or whatever—”

“Didn’t you invent all that?”

“Well, yes, but—either way, if we go, I might as well get a drink out of it,” Crowley said.

He glanced over and saw Aziraphale holding up two English muffins.

“Ah— no ,” he said.

“Crowley, I’m hardly so incompetent as to be unable to put bread in the toaster —I’m 6,000 years old, after all—”

“That’s what you said about boiling pasta, angel, and I’m pretty sure there is still soot on the ceiling,” Crowley interrupted. “Put the muffins down .”

Aziraphale huffed and took a seat at the kitchen table.

The whole scene was picturesque—the light through the window, the curtains fluttering in the cool autumn breeze, the bouquet of columbines and cornflowers and forget-me-nots on the sill, Aziraphale, a cup of tea in his hands, steam in his face, golden sunlight.

Crowley almost gagged at his own sappiness—he probably needed to steal a child’s ice cream or run over a family of ducklings after thinking such a terribly sweet thought.

 

The art festival was—well, it was an art festival. People were milling about, hocking their custom made organic free-range tea cosies like their miserable lives depended on it. Children were running around, making mischief and messes and telling random strangers deep, vaguely disturbing family secrets. A teenager was playing generic teenager songs on the ukulele, the short, choppy style of their hair and the large rainbow on their t-shirt both insisting that they weren’t someone who had a lot of friends at school. Everyone was just a little bit disappointed about having put on proper clothes and making the effort to leave the house over this .

There were tents.

Crowley found it ridiculously amusing.

Aziraphale, on the other hand, seemed to be having the time of his immortal life .

“Oh, Crowley, would you just look at this !” he said, holding up what appeared to be a piece of driftwood that had the words Live, Laugh, Love,  painted on it in the sort of basic calligraphy font that would be right at home on a fourteen-year-old girl’s Pinterest board. “This would look lovely in our dining room!”

Crowley scoffed. “Absolutely not , angel,” he said, looping an arm around Aziraphale’s waist. “You’re not decorating our house like a forty-five-year-old woman who doesn’t believe in vaccines or disciplining her children.”

Aziraphale glared at him. “And who, exactly , do we have to blame for the whole anti-vaxx fiasco, hm?”

Crowley felt his cheeks heat up. “I didn’t think it’d go this far,” he hissed. “And besides, I made sure he got his medical license revoked.”

“I do suppose that’s something ,” the angel conceded. “But honestly, darling, don’t you think this would look—”

“Wonderful next to your wrought-iron-and-scrap-wood cross collection and taxidermied deer heads? Of course, angel.”

Aziraphale huffed. “ Fine ,” he said. “What about this one? You do like plants.”

The painting he pointed out was at the edge of the neighbouring tent. A large, green tree sat in the middle of the canvas, dotted with red splotches. The whole thing was rather impressionistic, but Crowley could make out a clear blue sky and the rolling hills and lush greenery behind the—

“Apple tree,” he stated bluntly. “You—you want us to buy a painting of an apple tree? Us ? You and me? An apple tree ?”

“Is it an apple tree?” the angel asked. “I thought it was a rowan—”

“Those are apples , angel. It’s an apple tree—in a garden , no less—”

“Yes, alright, I get it—”

“A bit on the nose there, isn’t it? Might as well ask them to add a snake, a fluffy-haired bloke with a flaming sword, it could be our family portrait —”

“Oh, never mind,” Aziraphale grumbled. “You really are of no help.”

“I am too! I’m—helpful is my middle name , angel. Without my help , you’d have the whole house done like— who knows what ,” Crowley pointed out. “And, look here, what about this? It’s… nice.”

It was a painting of the sea, of waves crashing against the rocks, of the sun just barely visible through the storm clouds overhead.

It would match Aziraphale’s blue, gray, and beige blanket he had draped over the back of the sofa.

“Oh, that is lovely,” the angel gushed, taking a step closer to the canvas.

They got the painting.

(Perhaps, later, when the artist—a young woman who’d had bright blue paint smudged in her eyebrow—returned home, she would find that her studio had been fully stocked with the highest quality supplies, and that a pot of potato soup was bubbling away on the stove. Perhaps .)

(And even if that was the case, no one could prove Crowley had anything to do with it.)

The very next table held a spread of potted plants.

They were—well, they were pitiful . Absolutely shameful. Crowley didn’t understand how someone could allow themselves to be disgraced and humiliated by selling such piss-poor plants .

The succulents were brown at the edges, meaning they were being overwatered. The broad-leafed plants were yellowing, meaning they were being under watered.

The flowers were drooping, not a single stem was standing properly upright, and Crowley had never seen so many spots.

“This is—does no one know how to treat a ficus these days?” he muttered as he looked over the display in dismay. “Honestly, this is atrocious , absolutely a crime — and people say I’m evil.”

“Darling, you say you’re evil.”

“Yeah, well, at least I know how to make sure my plants have proper nitrogen levels in their soil —”

“Crowley—”

“I can’t—I can’t let this stand. This is— ngk —I’m getting sick just looking at it—”

“Don’t you think you’re being just a touch overdramatic, dear?” Aziraphale asked.

Crowley ignored him.

“Hi, sorry, I’d like to buy all of this,” he said to the elderly woman behind the table who’d been staring at him with contempt.

Crowley ! That—you can’t just—”

“All of it,” Crowley repeated.

The woman blinked at him.

“How much will it be?” he asked.

“For… all of it? Are you sure?”

“Oh, absolutely.”

“This really is quite ridiculous—where are you even going to keep them all?”

“I’ll make the space,” Crowley mumbled as he pulled out his wallet.

(He’d miracled it up just for this occasion.)

Aziraphale rolled his eyes.

“How much?” the demon repeated.

“Well, I’d say probably close to two-fifty—”

Two-fifty ?” Crowley spat. “You—you want me to pay two hundred and fifty pounds for a bunch of poorly cared for plants ?”

“That’s the price—”

“Satan help me,” Crowley grumbled. “I’ll do one-seventy-five.”

“Two hundred.”

“Two— fine . Whatever. Here,” Crowley said, materialising the cash before taking it out and handing it to the woman.

Two hundred pounds, completely in fives.

“I’ll come back and collect later,” he told her.

She glared at him.

Crowley smiled.

“That really was entirely unnecessary,” Aziraphale said as they walked away.

“Maybe,” Crowley admitted. “But it was fun.”

“You’re incorrigible.”

“I do try.”

They followed the path of the festival just a bit further, until they came upon a small stone church with tall, beautiful stained glass windows. More booths seemed to be set up inside, and Crowley could see Aziraphale glancing at the open doors.

“Go on, angel,” he said, squeezing Aziraphale’s hand.

“Wait? No, no, I’m—it’s alright, dear, I wouldn’t want to—it wouldn’t be proper of me to leave you all alone out here—”

“Aziraphale. It’s fine,” Crowley insisted, placing a quick kiss to the angel’s cheek. “I don’t mind, and all your looking and wondering is going to drive me up the blessed wall. Go.”

“Oh—you’re quite sure?”

Quite .”

“Well then, if you—if you insist ,” Aziraphale said. There was that look in his eyes again, that look he’d been aiming at Crowley for the past few centuries, the one that made Crowley feel like his insides were made of cotton balls and candy floss and strawberry jam. The angel leaned up on his toes and gave Crowley a light peck on the lips before handing him the bag containing their new painting. “I’ll be quick, darling. Don’t go too far.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Crowley muttered, distantly aware that he sounded like a lovesick puppy.

Honestly, that ice cream-stealing couldn’t happen quick enough.

Crowley sighed as he glanced around as the few tables outside the church. One was covered in pottery, bowls and cups and mugs and vases and pitchers, each glazed and painted with some sort of flower or vine. One displayed little glass baubles in all different colours. One was laden with jewelry, pieces made with glass beads and stones and—

“Sorry, is that—can I see that ring there?” Crowley asked. The man at the booth nodded, and carefully picked up the item Crowley was pointing at.

It was a snake, coiled and wrapped around itself, eating its tail to create an ouroboros, and there in the middle was a single diamond.

“I—could I—could I hold it?” Crowley stammered. “I’m not—I won’t run off with it, I just—”

“Does your gentleman like snakes?” the man asked as he watched Crowley turn the ring over in his hand.

“My gentleman?”

“The one who went into the church. I assumed you two were…” the man stated, seeming more anxious as he went.

“Oh. Yes, I—I suppose you could say that,” Crowley muttered.

“And you’re thinking of proposing?”

Crowley swallowed the lump in his throat. “I… maybe. It’s—it’s complicated, our whole… situation. Don’t think we could even get —not properly, at least.”

“The whole business is legal now, isn’t it?” the man asked.

“There’s a bit more to it than that,” Crowley admitted. “But I did… well, I thought that maybe we could—we live together and all that, so I thought maybe—”

“What’s his size, then?”

“His what?”

“His ring size,” the man repeated. “Doubt that little thing would fit him as is, it’s going to have to be resized unless you want him wearing it on his pinkie.”

Crowley blinked twice behind his glasses. “It’s, er—uh—pff—tch—erm—ssssssh—fk—nine and a half, I think?” he finally spat out.

“Well then,” the man said, taking the ring from Crowley’s hand and trading it for a slip of card stock. “Here’s my card. It ought to be ready in two-to-three weeks. The bill’ll be round after, once you know if everything’s worked out.”

Crowley gaped at him for a moment.

Of course, of course, that was when Aziraphale decided to make his grand re-entrance. “Oh, Crowley, dear, I wish you could see the scarves they have— and you know how earlier I said I was thinking about learning to knit?  Well, I actually already went ahead and bought some needles and yarn, I hope you don’t mind, they just had the most wonderful colours—”

“Sounds great, angel,” Crowley interjected, looping an arm around Aziraphale’s waist.

The ring man winked at him.

“How do you feel about a snack, dear boy?” Aziraphale asked. “There is that gyro truck around here somewhere…”

Crowley followed his angel down the street, arm in arm, as a little piece of cardstock burned a hole in the pocket of his super-skinny skinny jeans.