On their way back to the bookshop, after having a wonderful dinner, Aziraphale kept glancing at Crowley. He was looking for any tell-tale sign of discomfort or lingering unease. Finding none, he promptly ruined it, “my dear, you recall, the last time you were at the shop, helping me with reorganizing my books?”
“What of it, Angel?” Crowley’s jaw clenched and a slight blush appeared just under his glasses. His grip on the steering wheel turned white knuckled, the car’s movements going jerky with the harsh movements of a tense demon.
“Well, you were acting a touch strange. It was rather lovely, actually, and I was wondering, if you’d be amenable to trying something similar again?” Aziraphale looked up at him, using that pleading look that so often got him what he wanted. It might be unfair, but he was certain Crowley would enjoy it. At the very least, he’d have a relaxing evening.
“You want me to shelve more books? Is that it?” Crowley was being purposefully obtuse. He pressed harder on the gas, deciding if Aziraphale was going to continue this conversation, he’d have to hurry it up. Sooner they got to the bookshop, the better. Then Crowley could drop the angel off and promptly forget this conversation happened.
“Well, no, that’s not it. I believe it’s called ‘subspace.’ I was quite surprised you would be a ‘sub,’ or are you a ‘switch?’ Either way, if its agreeable to you, I’d like to try to put you under once more,” Aziraphale placed a hand on Crowley’s arm. It was meant to be comforting, but the demon ended up jerking and nearly discorporating them both.
Crowley sputtered and spit and hissed for a solid two minutes before he finally took a deep breath and huffed. He clenched and unclenched his hands on the wheel before he turned sharply, causing Aziraphale to squeak, as they drifted into his parking spot directly in front of the bookshop. He took off his sunglasses and fiddled with them a moment before folding them up and gripping them tightly. Then he looked at Aziraphale, “let’s talk inside, yea? Come on then, Angel.”
Aziraphale followed Crowley inside the shop, a dawning understanding at how hard this must be for him. It had seemed so easy before, it had been completely unintentional of course, but still it had been easy. Crowley obviously trusted him a great deal, to allow himself to slip unintentionally into an alternate headspace.
Once in the shop, Crowley sprawled out onto the settee, purposefully trying to appear as casual as possible, despite his anxiety. Aziraphale normally sat on his well-worn and well-loved armchair, but today he lifted Crowley’s head and sat on the settee with him, so Crowley rested in his lap. He began carding a hand through his hair and waited patiently for the demon to talk. With each pass of his hand, Crowley’s hair grew longer until it was about shoulder length.
Crowley looked up at him, eyes blown full Sulphuric yellow, pupils slightly dilated. He swallowed, before relaxing incrementally, “I don’t know what that was, Angel. It’s just a… a me thing or perhaps a you thing. Lor- Sa- Someone knows, I’ve certainly never done anything like it before. I mean, who would I even… with? Certainly not a demon.” The last word was spoken with such disdain, Aziraphale’s heart constricted.
“Well, did you enjoy it? You certainly seemed relaxed,” Aziraphale began gently massaging Crowley’s head. He made sure to keep as calm as he could, not wanting to spook the dear boy. “I rather enjoyed it as well, but you needn’t feel pressured to do it for me, if you’d rather not.” It would be minorly disappointing, but he’d much rather Crowley be comfortable than force himself to submit to Aziraphale’s whims.
Crowley blinked, long and slow as he tended to do whenever he bothered to. 6,000 years and he never quite got the hang of blinking. “I’m not… I don’t know Aziraphale,” he muttered as he turned his head away, no longer looking at the angel. The blush on his cheeks spoke to his embarrassment, Aziraphale hoped it was from feeling good, and not from anything like shame.
“Well, perhaps we could try it once more, take things slow,” Aziraphale continued his ministrations in Crowley’s hair. It was of course styled and in no need of brushing, but it was so silky and well-taken care of, he couldn’t quite get himself to stop. “Oh! We should have a safeword! Now, I don’t expect we’ll need it of course, certainly not going to do anything untoward, not this time at least.” Aziraphale gave Crowley a coy look, which Crowley responded to beautifully with a lovely blush, dusting even his ear tips.
“What’re you planning, Angel?” Crowley smiled, despite normally detesting going slow, he was rather thankful for it this time. He was finally beginning to relax truly. “How does Apple sound?” Crowley raised an eyebrow, challenging Aziraphale to say something.
“Cheeky serpent,” Aziraphale laughed, before smiling, so soft and happy. “Very well, my dear. Being on your knees worked rather well last time, so let’s start there, if you please.”
Crowley grumbled, all for show rather any real complaint. He was still nervous about this. He wasn’t supposed to be the type that got all loose and sweet and downright soft. He set himself down onto his knees, directly in front of Aziraphale. His face was still flushed, but already he was looking more at ease.
“Thank you, dearest, but I’d like you to face the other way, at least for now,” Aziraphale smiled softly as the demon frowned. Before he could object though, the angel interrupted, “do you trust me?”
“Always,” Crowley didn’t hesitate before answering. He barely even left time for Aziraphale to finish. But with that declaration in the air between them, Crowley found it easier to turn around and have his back to the angel. Had he turned his back on anyone else, he would’ve been tense and paranoid, waiting for a strike. But he did trust Aziraphale. He trusted Aziraphale more than himself, and that was the problem.
“Good boy,” Aziraphale hummed, pleased when Crowley didn’t fight back against the words. He stroked Crowley’s head like he was a well-behaved pet, before resting the hand on the back of his neck. He squeezed, establishing a firm, but not bruising grip. “Now, I’m going to say a couple of phrases, and I want you to pick one you like, and begin repeating it, until I tell you to stop.”
Crowley wasn’t sure if he was supposed, or even allowed, to talk yet, so he gave a short jerky nod. Aziraphale began his list of phrases, pausing between each sentence to give Crowley a chance to think about them.
After a moment of silence, Crowley breathed in a shaky breath and began reciting, “I give myself permission to slow down.” Aziraphale hadn’t expected him to choose that one, but perhaps he shouldn’t be surprised. Crowley was always going fast, always running from or towards something.
Aziraphale waited until Crowley’s voice became more hiss than consonant, he didn’t want to check his pocket-watch, although he was pretty sure it had been around ten minutes or so. He squeezed and rubbed the back of his dear boy’s neck before speaking, “there’s a good boy. You can stop now, my dear. Turn around.”
Crowley obliged, a little sluggish in his movements. He rested his head on Aziraphale’s knee while the angel stroked his cheeks and checked on him. Despite being a snake and not a cat, his pupils had blown wide and nearly round, a hazy sort of expression overtaking him.
“There you are, my love,” Aziraphale picked Crowley up and moved him into the position he wanted him—draped over the angel once more. “Look at how sweet you are for me. Thank you for this, your surrender is such a precious gift.” Aziraphale peppered his face with kisses while Crowley hummed contentedly.
Now that Crowley had settled, all Aziraphale had to do was pull him further under. With a press and a shift large black wings covered them. The feathers were delightfully warm, crackling with leftover energy from manifestation. The angel shifted and began rubbing and massaging his demon’s back, working at the seldom used wing muscles. Crowley let out a pleased hiss before going completely pliant.
Aziraphale began working his way up and around to knead at Crowley’s neck and shoulders. He was careful not to incidentally pull the somehow messy red waves of hair. The angel felt a tickling feeling near his ear. It took a moment to realize that was just Crowley idly scenting the air—a clear sign he was well and truly under, as normally he hid all snake qualities as much as he could.
Crowley’s wings draped over the couch like a large, heavy, feather blanket. While normally this would be a sign of fatigue or illness, Aziraphale knew this was just the demon at peak relaxation, completely content to be at the angel’s whims. And with Crowley so at his mercy, Aziraphale could finally indulge in something he’s wanted to do since they met on that Garden wall. He opened his hand and with a slight wave, it was filled with an ornate silver hairbrush.
Gently, he teased mysterious tangles from Crowley’s hair. Said demon didn’t even shift, merely scented the air and remained lax and docile in the angel’s arms. Aziraphale could lose himself in watching the curls bounce free with each pass of the brush. Call him soppy, but in this moment Aziraphale truly believed that taking care of Crowley was what he had been made for.
And he would. He would take care of Crowley for the rest of time, and even after. While it was hard to call the time before wasted, this time after had such potential for more. Aziraphale could spend every minute of every day taking care of his precious, dear boy.