“Anytime you feel… like that. Please. Just come — I’ll help you, please just don’t… don’t run away from me.”
That had been over a year ago now, and Crowley had managed well enough. Aziraphale was almost always there, and Crowley could keep himself busy, mostly. Could distract himself from his urges to self-destruct. But that itch had come back, stronger this time, festering under his skin, prickling like too tight clothes pulling hair against the grain. He needed …
“Please. Aziraphale. Please.” He was begging, couldn’t even articulate what he wanted, but he knew Aziraphale would fix it, would make it better.
Aziraphale was reading, sitting comfortably in an armchair, but he looked up as Crowley spoke, immediately putting the book to the side and focusing completely on his lanky boyfriend. He could see that something was wrong, could read it in the tight way Crowley was holding his spine, fingers twitching, eyes flicking round and round, never focussed.
“Anything, Crowley. What’s wrong? What do you need?” He stood, reached for him, cupped a soft hand over his cheek, slid his fingers up into Crowley’s hair, dragged them back down to his jaw.
Crowley shifted, so needy , but he couldn’t… couldn’t… “I want you to hit me. Please, please hit me I... I need it Aziraphale. Please.”
The fingers froze on his face, and Aziraphale’s breath caught in his throat. “Crowley… I’m not sure…”
Crowley’s eyes were squeezed shut, face scrunched as though he was in pain. “You know I wouldn’t— wouldn’t ask this of you... But you said, you said if I ever… ever needed...” Crowley couldn’t finish the sentence, but Aziraphale remembered. I’ll help. Crowley had been reckless lately, and Aziraphale knew that, could maybe understand, at least a little, that sometimes he just … he had to get out of his skin .
“I don’t want to hurt you.” He looked at him so softly, stroking his cheek again, gently. Tenderly. It was too much, too soft for Crowley’s stretched taut skin, crawling under the barely-there pressure of blunt fingertips. Crowley wanted— no, he needed it to hurt.
“Please. I’m asking you to. I want you to. Angel, please.” Desperate, pathetically desperate but he was shaking, felt like he might drift away if he wasn’t shocked into feeling , wasn’t tied to his body with something sharp, something he could focus on.
“We should talk about this, Crowley, I can’t read your mind, I don’t know what you want.”
“Next time, I promise we can hash out all the details later, but I just, I need to… to feel it, now.”
Aziraphale sighed, resigned and worried. He could tell Crowley was desperate, looked like he was on the verge of making some very stupid decisions if Aziraphale couldn’t help him.
“What do you need, love?”
“I want you to… to control me, and I want it to hurt. I want... bruises.” Crowley didn’t look at him, didn’t want to see his reaction to the request.
“Alright.” Aziraphale’s voice was soft, comforting, reassuring. It said I’ll take care of you, I would do anything for you. Anything at all .
Crowley slumped forward, tension releasing as he handed over responsibility for his body. He could relax now, knowing Aziraphale would would fix it, make him feel good again.
He didn’t have to make any more choices.
Aziraphale’s hand slid back into his hair, then gripped the strands unexpectedly, pulling sharply from the root, and Crowley swayed towards him, eyes sliding half shut, a breath huffing out.
“Yesss, like that.” He was slurring, neither drunk nor exhausted, just overwhelmed, overstimulated. Desperate for a focal point.
“You have to tell me if you want something specific, Crowley. Or if you don’t like something. You listening?”
“Umm, yes…” Crowley was approaching liquid he was so relaxed, muscles uncoiling so far Aziraphale was shocked he wasn’t a puddle on the floor already.
“This isn’t the best place for this Crowley, can we go to bed?”
Crowley shook his head slowly, lowering himself onto his knees in front of Aziraphale, careful not to dislodge the fingers still gripped tight in his hair.
“I want… like this. Hit me.” He was begging, eyes locked on Aziraphale’s face, focus burning and intense.
Aziraphale took a deep breath, steadying himself, pulling back his right hand before letting it go, slapping Crowley across the face, head held still by Aziraphale’s other hand in his hair. It stung against his palm, and left a shock of pink on Crowley’s cheek. He didn’t move, eyes still locked on Aziraphale’s, bright and wretched. “Again.”
He obeyed, leaving a matching pink print on the other side of Crowley’s face. Crowley’s breath was coming faster, but he didn’t look upset, he looked… aroused. There were goosebumps coming up where he had been slapped, and Aziraphale knew it had to hurt.
“Is this what you needed?” Aziraphale knew it was, but he wanted to make sure Crowley was still with him.
He was nodding instantly, frantically, pupils blown, desperation still plain on his face. “More.”
“Crowley, I can’t mark your face, people will think…”
Crowley shifted, impatient, eyes starting to flick around again, clearly trying to think around the mental boulder of this frantic need.
“Thighs. You can mark my thighs. They’re always covered, right? Please, please Aziraphale I can’t… I need...”
Aziraphale shushed him softly, pinching his cheek over a fading pink hand-print. A jolt went through Crowley’s spine, body jerking forwards, towards Aziraphale, towards the sharp bite of pain.
“Oh, Crowley, you should have told me earlier. Clearly you’ve been needing this, I hate to think I’ve been neglecting you.”
“No, no, you haven’t been neglecting me, I should have said, I— I didn’t want to upset you.” The rawness of his voice reminded Aziraphale that this was not the time for this conversation, that Crowley needed this right now, needed Aziraphale to give him what he had asked for.
He paused, mentally stepped back to evaluate. How should he go about this? His hand would hurt too much to continue long before Crowley was satisfied, he knew that. They didn’t have any sort of official gear, at least not yet. If this was going to become a thing he supposed they would need to look into that, a thought for later.
But what else could he use? A belt? That seemed… cruel, somehow, too close to the kind of punishment Aziraphale knew Crowley’s father had favored. A ruler? Too flimsy, a little too much like a scolding teacher. Crowley had said he wanted bruises, so it needed to be fairly strong material, something that wouldn’t yield against flesh. Aziraphale wished he had some sort of whip-like object, that seemed like exactly the kind of thing Crowley would want. Red, weeping welts, sharp, sudden shocks of pain and a throbbing aftermath. But alas, he didn’t have that sort of thing on hand. Something else then. A wooden spoon, perhaps? That would definitely leave marks if Aziraphale used it correctly. Yes, that would do nicely.
The only problem was, the spoon was in his kitchenette, and Crowley was here, now, at his feet, swaying with his eyes closed, and Aziraphale didn’t want to leave him here, didn’t want to abandon him in the midst of such intense vulnerability.
“Love?” Crowley didn’t respond, listing towards Aziraphale, cracking open unfocused eyes. “Crowley, if you want me to leave bruises I’ll have to get something from the kitchen. Are you listening?”
Crowley made a vaguely affirmative noise.
“Would you like to come with me or would you like to stay here?”
A decision. Crowley just looked up at him blankly, utterly uncomprehending and unwilling to make the choice for himself.
“Crowley.” Aziraphale slapped his face again, using less force this time, and Crowley let out a low rumbling groan.
“I’ll— I’ll c’me wi’ you.” He barely got the words out, most of it wasn’t even audible, but Aziraphale was watching very closely, and he knew his lover so well.
“Alright. You need to stand up. Now, please.”
Crowley stood up quicker than Aziraphale had anticipated, given his reluctance to speak. Oh, maybe that was… maybe he wanted Aziraphale to direct him, not give him any options. Yes, that made sense. Control me , Crowley had said.
He released his grip on Crowley’s hair, and Crowley made such an acute noise of loss that he regretted it immediately, and put his fingers back in, tugging in reassurance and then with more force, directly Crowley towards the kitchen.
He selected a thick wooden spoon, the kind used for large pots of pasta or stew, tested it against his own thigh, nearly laughed at the jealous look on Crowley’s face.
He pulled him along again, leading him this time to their shared bedroom, wide plush mattress, a mountain of pillows and a soft duvet, but he paused over the threshold, considering. Perhaps the bed wasn’t what Crowley needed, right now.
What Aziraphale needed, however, was access to Crowley’s thighs, and he was worried his love might be too out of it to manage. “Trousers, darling.” Crowley didn’t move, and Aziraphale sighed, giving his hair one last harsh tug before busying both hands with Crowley’s belt and jeans, working them open as quickly as he could. Crowley’s breath was hot against his neck, cheek pressed to Aziraphale’s shoulder, but he made no move to assist. Aziraphale shucked the jeans quickly, guiding Crowley to step out of them, and then straightened up, this time tapping the spoon held in the left hand against his open right palm absently, contemplative.
“On your knees for me, there’s a dear.” Aziraphale murmured, internally wincing at the sound of Crowley’s knees meeting the hardwood.
Crowley looked up at him, then at the spoon, then back at him, and said nothing, but his eyes blazed with a kind of hunger Aziraphale was not familiar with.
“Would you like a count?” Aziraphale hated that he had to ask questions, but Crowley hadn’t given him any warning, or direction.
Crowley shook his head. “Just… hard. Please.”
Aziraphale took a deep breath, made a practice swing in the air before bringing the spoon down on the outside of Crowley’s right thigh with a resounding smack. Crowley didn’t react much, eyes drooping, letting out a sigh.
Aziraphale kept at it, bringing the spoon down against the sides and backs of Crowley’s thighs, peppering the pale skin there with angry red lines and circles. Some of them had already begun to bruise, blood pooling just under the surface of that pale skin, and Aziraphale had gotten into a rhythm, four rapid swats, of varying force, a pause, looking at Crowley, making sure he was fine, then one hard smack, the sound bouncing back off the walls of the room. Crowley couldn’t keep quiet, with those, but his eyes were still hungry, and he kept them mostly open, watching Aziraphale circle him. After each particularly hard swing, Aziraphale would take a break, do what he felt was right, fill in any empty white spaces he had missed, or whose marks had faded.
They kept at it for half an hour, Aziraphale diligently checking in every couple of minutes, making sure Crowley was fine, checking for blood, for any particularly angry spots. He would run his hands over the raised criss-cross lines the handle had made, murmuring endless praise to Crowley, telling him how good he was being, how obedient and still, how he was taking it so beautifully and did he know how Aziraphale loved him? Of course he knew, and Aziraphale expected no response.
He stopped when Crowley’s thighs wouldn’t stop trembling, when his head started dropping forward, whining softly against Aziraphale’s stomach, shoulders hitching with suppressed sobs.
“Oh love, come here, up you get.” He manhandled Crowley over to the bed, helped him out of the remainder of his clothes, lay down next to him and pet his face, kissing his brow, his eyelids, offering a constant stream of meaningless comfort. “You’re okay, it’s okay, I’m right here, Crowley, Crowley, I love you so much, you did so well, I hope this was what you needed, I would give you anything you asked for, you’re so good for me, thank you for telling me…” Crowley just curled against him, weakly pulled Aziraphale’s hand around to his thighs, pushing it against the hot flesh, nearly burning under his fingers and likely throbbing terribly. Aziraphale stroked over his skin, softly, tucked his other hand under Crowley’s head, fingers rubbing tiny circles against his scalp.
“Sleep, love, I’ll be right here.”
--- --- ---
Aziraphale woke first, as usual, and was admiring Crowley’s soft sleeping face, relaxed and loose like he never was awake. He let his eyes track idly down over the slope of Crowley’s spine, attention suddenly caught by the impressive array of red and blue bruising that decorated the backs and sides of his thighs. Oh dear .
He brushed a hand over the colorful skin, just barely skimming along, feeling the swollen lines of particularly hard swats. Crowley made a noise— not one of discomfort, Aziraphale noted— and cracked open one eye to stare at him.
Aziraphale kept stroking, unable to tear his eyes away from slender bruised thighs. “Oh Crowley, I’m sorry dear, I think I might have got a bit carried away...”
Crowley grumbled something into his pillow, and Aziraphale made a questioning noise. He turned his face a bit more to the side, repeated, “I said quit fussing angel, ‘ve never felt better.”
“Let me get you something for them, please.”
At that, Crowley moved sharply, grabbed Aziraphale’s wrist in a tight grip, eyes blazing. “No. I like this. ‘S good, ‘s what I wanted.”
And then, after a moment, after he had released Aziraphale’s wrist and slumped back into the bed, “Thank you.”
Now that was rare enough to give Aziraphale pause. An unadorned thank you, offered up bare and without sarcasm or an excuse. He had truly needed this, the blond realized, took in the relaxed sprawl of him, realized he hadn’t seen his love this loose in weeks at least.
“Of course, love. Of course.”