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Ugly Things

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Demons are, for all intents and purposes, ugly things. That’s one of their main, defining features. Demons are vile, loathsome, disgusting, and all those other pointed, cruel words the higher ups use to describe them. They are toads, and lizards; warty, filthy creatures that crawl about in muck and grime, undeserving of light or love. 

They are snakes . Scaly, ugly beasts, they are abrasive and slimy and they reek of evil and venom.  

But Crowley never wanted to be a demon; he’d never wanted to be a snake . He hadn’t done anything that bad during his tenure in Heaven. Sure, he might have complained once in a while about long, metaphysical hours, but who didn’t? A millennia of galactic construction duty would make anyone complain, especially with Gabriel’s bloody awful horn blaring in the background. But apparently, that was enough to deserve an eternity of wretchedness

All in all, though, Crowley thinks, staring at himself in the mirror, he’s done a bang-up job dealing with the punishment he was dealt. After six thousand years of putting up with his demonic form, Crowley can say that all his pitiful wriggliness, his wretched scales, and all the remnants of his serpentine nature have been thoroughly tucked away. 

He’s always been careful with his appearance, especially after meeting Aziraphale; Crowley has always rejected the repugnant nature that some of his demonic cohorts willingly carry. There is no muck or grime that drips from his corporeal form. There is no vile smell accompanying his presence. His body is satisfyingly human—two legs, two arms, smooth skin, full hair; a thoughtfully composed body. His appearance now is a far-cry from any of his more despicable colleagues’, much to their annoyance. 

Crowley simply never got the hang of being a snake. And yet, despite that, he has never been able to fully leave the form behind either. 

Crowley stares at his reflection, letting his dark glasses tip forward onto the bridge of his nose. His serpentine eyes are the only things he’s never been able to hide. Sure, he can create illusions once in a while for the wandering human who might stare at him for too long, but at the end of the day, his slitted, bright yellow eyes seem to be a permanent feature. Thank somebody the humans got around to inventing sunglasses. But even so, he’s worked hard to craft his appearance, to fit well into his humanoid vessel, and to eliminate all the nasty remnants of his demonic nature.

Crowley refuses, if at all possible, to revert to his serpentine form. He is too afraid that if he does so, he will no longer remember how to change back.  

And so, when his baser instincts rear their ugly heads, he tucks them away. Neatly. Quietly. Hiding them as if they never existed. The patches of remnant scales on his skin are hidden beneath well-crafted designer clothing; his yellow eyes are shielded behind darkened lenses; his forked tongue is tucked away behind his slightly too-sharp teeth. And no one is ever the wiser.

Except for maybe…Aziraphale. 

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They’re having dinner at the Ritz. 

They’re having dinner at the Ritz and there’s nothing abnormal about it. 

They’re having dinner and Aziraphale is rambling on about some new bakery that he read about in the papers—it’s set to open in a couple of months and he can’t wait to try their danishes. Crowley has never been particularly interested in bakeries or sweets or pastries, but the Angel always has been, and so he usually makes a courtesy of paying attention. But today, during this very normal abnormal lunch, Crowley can’t focus. 

He’s itchy; not in the human sort of oh no I got a bug bite way, either. He’s itchy and uncomfortable in the way that only a demon that’s barely held together in a human body could be. His forearm is particularly irritating—the fleshy, human skin feels too dry, too cracked. It’s been like this for a few days now, and Crowley has watched, despite his best efforts, as his skin has begun to molt and scale, showing glimpses of his truest form.

These flare-ups come and go. They’re regular reminders that no matter how hard he might try to hide his true self, this is what he was always meant to be. But he does his best to hide it away—especially from Aziraphale. Crowley figures that it’s one thing for an angel to consort with a demon, but it’s quite another to force the angel to endure Crowley’s inherent grotesqueries. 

But right now, he’s simply uncomfortable . Crowley listens to Aziraphale while he pointedly ignores the irritation burning on his forearm and inner wrist. He reaches his arm out to grab his wine glass, and when he does, his jacket sleeve pulls back ever so slightly, revealing a large patch—larger than Crowley had anticipated—of hardened red and black scales along the inside of his wrist.

Aziraphale, despite what Crowley imagines are his best efforts, misses a beat the moment Crowley’s inhuman skin is visible. But he doesn’t mention the ugly patch of scales. He stays quiet, swallows thickly as Crowley snatches his own wine glass, brings it to his lips, and downs the remainder of the contents in two full gulps. Aziraphale huffs a small breath as Crowley avoids his gaze and picks up talking about delightful cheese danishes as if nothing out of sorts had occurred. Crowley doesn’t know whether to be grateful or embarrassed. 

Neither emotion is very suitable for a demon. 

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They walk to the bookshop in relative silence. Aziraphale, for what it’s worth, doesn’t mention the scales the entire walk back. Once they’re at the entrance of the shop, Crowley knows it’s time for him to go home, and yet, despite his embarrassment and his anxiety, he doesn’t leave. Instead, he waits for Aziraphale to unlock the shop and hold the door open for him—a silent invitation to come in, to sit with him, to drink together as if everything were normal. 

And so, Crowley does. 

He sits on Aziraphale’s sofa—the same spot he has sat during every other visit to the bookshop—and listens to the sound of Aziraphale concocting drinks in the kitchenette. He thinks about his skin. His distinctly inhuman skin. Imperfect. Un-angelic. 

Ugly. 

Nasty. 

Impure. 

Aziraphale returns with drinks, and just in time to stop Crowley’s thoughts from worming any deeper into the wormhole of self-loathing. 

He’s made Crowley’s drink too strong—the way Crowley likes it—and that gesture is enough to tell Crowley that everything is mostly okay. 

And so he drinks. And so they talk. And so they laugh together as if everything is normal as the alcohol flows miraculously between them. 

Time passes quickly and slowly, in that very unique way that occurs when non-human entities consume human vices. And at some point during this time of talking and quick-slow time, Crowley makes the mistake of stripping off his jacket. It’s hot in the room, his face has grown flushed and dewy from the alcohol and warmth, and all he wants is a little chill to cool the heat that seems to burn constantly beneath his skin. 

But he realizes his mistake the moment Aziraphale stops speaking. The angel’s face falls, and his eyes fixate on Crowley’s bare arms. Crowley follows his gaze, and notes with horror that both his forearms are littered with dark patches of scales. Even in the dim light of the bookshop, their contrast against the normal peach tone of his human skin is glaring. In an instant, Crowley miracles his drink safely to the coffee table and his jacket back on. 

Aziraphale doesn’t say anything, but he licks his lips and leans back in his chair, attempting to appear casual. 

“Do you get those often?”

Unsure of what else to do, Crowley plays dumb. “Get what?” 

Aziraphale takes a large swallow of his brandy. 

“The uh,” he gestures towards his own arms, “the scales.” 

Crowley takes a moment,a split second to breathe, to suck in a deep inhale of air he doesn’t need to compose himself. He shrugs and swirls his own drink that is now miraculously back in his hand. “Sometimes.” 

Crowley is suddenly very aware of the noises of the shop. London’s late-evening street sounds filter in through the closed glass windows—the soft murmur of intermittent cars, occasional voices of passers-by, the hum of the street lights and the few insects that swarm them. Even the summer warmth pressing against the glass is palpable in this moment. It’s too soft, it’s too personable, and the way Aziraphale is looking at him is all a bit too much. He takes a long gulp of his brandy and unconsciously adjusts each cuff of his jacket, making sure he is fully covered. 

Aziraphale lets out a low breath and leans forward in his chair, closing the space between them slightly. He reaches a tentative hand out, fingers toying the fabric of Crowley’s coat sleeve as he speaks. 

“I don’t mind them.” Aziraphale clears his throat, not looking at Crowley, “It’s not… it’s not something you need to hide from me. I’ve always known who you are.” 

And that…Crowley doesn’t want to admit it, but it stings. He knows what he is.He’ll never be able to forget that, will never be allowed to forget that he is nothing but a wretched bottom-feeder. And yet he’d held out some sort of hope that perhaps the angel might have been able to. But of course he hadn’t. The first time Aziraphale met Crowley, he saw him in his true form:a belly-crawling snake, groveling at the feet of good and evil, looking for an excuse to talk to a being purer than he could ever be. 

Crowley tugs his arm away and stands from the couch. 

“Yeah, we wouldn’t want to forget that, would we?” He strides towards the kitchen for a top-off of brandy. 

“Crowley, wait,” Aziraphale calls from behind him; Aziraphale’s chair scuffs along the floor and footsteps fall in the wake of Crowley’s own. Crowley ignores him, pouring himself a new drink, his back to Aziraphale. 

“I didn’t mean it that way,” Aziraphale starts, “I just meant…I’ve known who you were since the moment I met you; it has never meant anything to me. You are who you are.” 

Crowley shrugs, but says nothing, and continues to stir his drink that doesn’t need to be stirred. 

“I remember that day fondly,” Aziraphale says, laying a tentative hand on Crowley’s shoulder. He pulls gently on Crowley, ushering him to turn around. Crowley obeys, albeit reluctantly, and braces himself back against the kitchen counter. 

“The first time I met you, I watched you slither up beside me, iridescent black scales and enticing red belly. You were positively lovely , even before I saw your face.” 

Crowley doesn’t reply—he doesn’t know what to say—but he swallows and nods his acknowledgement. Aziraphale fills the silence for him. 

“Could I see them again?” 

Crowley’s brow furrows, disbelief and skepticism digging into every wrinkle on his face, but without question he obeys Aziraphale’s request. Wordlessly, he slips off his jacket, baring his arms. 

The scales are worse now. Instead of merely encroaching on his wrists and forearms, they extend along his arms, creeping towards his biceps. They’re blackened and hard, and he can feel his chest tighten in embarrassment.

“Th-they’re usually…not this bad,” Crowley stammers. But Aziraphale doesn’t admonish him, instead, he stares at them with care and consideration, and lifts a hand to drag his fingers along the length of the scales, from bicep to wrist,  each one as he moves. 

His touch is cool, like a gentle breeze against too-flushed flesh, and Crowley cannot stop the shiver that creeps through his body from arm, to head, to toe. 

“I thought they’d be cold,” Aziraphale mumbles, more to himself than to Crowley, “but they’re so warm…” 

Every slight movement of Aziraphale’s fingers against Crowley sends an electric chill down into his bones. Aziraphale steps closer so that their fronts are almost touching, a mere inch of space between their bodies. He lifts his gaze to meet Crowley’s wide-eyed stare; Aziraphale smiles at him and lifts a hand to his cheek. 

Crowley’s instincts demand he yank away, and yet he doesn’t. Instead, he leans into Aziraphale’s touch with an uneasy sigh. 

“Do you know how beautiful they are?” Aziraphale asks, not expecting an answer. His eyes are hazy and half-lidded as they stare at Crowley’s face, thumb stroking his cheek, “All of you is beautiful. How often do you think I’ve stared at these eyes?” 

Crowley shakes his head—this is too much. This cannot be right. They’re drunk, they’re in the heat of the moment, this will all be a mistake. But Aziraphale doesn’t relinquish him or back down from his statements. 

Instead, he tilts upward and claims Crowley’s mouth with his own. Crowley hisses a breath in through his nose, eyes wide, staring at Aziraphale’s lax and closed ones as he purses their lips together. But Crowley does not pull away. 

Aziraphale drops his hand from Crowley’s face and presses both hands against the counter, caging Crowley in on either side for a moment. He parts his lips, tilting upward more and calmly guiding Crowley’s mouth open against his own. 

At the first touch of their tongues, Crowley shivers, and Aziraphale groans. Crowley’s tongue is thick and forked, curving and curious as it probes gently forward, splits, and tickles around Aziraphale’s own. Crowley can sense the heat pooling inside of Aziraphale as he paws at his waist. 

“Is this okay?” he whispers. Crowley would like to respond, he truly would, but the best he can do is nod his approval. Frantic need boils in Crowley’s stomach, seeping down into his groin where Aziraphale is so pointedly pressing against him. Aziraphale tears his mouth from Crowley’s, attaching it instead to Crowley’s neck so that he can mouth along the sensitive flesh there. Something painful and urgent surges in Crowley’s chest, and burns throughout his body. Heat sears along his skin, climbs up his chest and to his neck. 

Beneath Aziraphale’s lips, hardened, smooth scales flourish and flare. 

“Beautiful,” he murmurs. 

Crowley finally allows his hands to touch Aziraphale; pawing at any available body part he can find. He fumbles across Aziraphale’s shoulders, to his spine, his low back, his stomach, his waistline, but he does not dare go lower. 

“It’s alright, love,” Aziraphale whispers into Crowley’s neck before nibbling along the scales. Crowley shudders and buries his face in Aziraphale’s neck, his own mouth desperate to touch, his tongue desperate to taste. He drags his tongue—split and obscene—along Aziraphale’s skin, up to his ear, and toys with it briefly before turning his attention back to the milky-white skin of Aziraphale’s neck. 

His teeth—too sharp for their own good, too curious to be safe—dig unthinkingly into Aziraphale’s pristine white flesh, hard enough to break the skin. Aziraphale yelps, keen and harsh, but he doesn’t pull away. Instead, his yelp devolves to a moan as Crowley’s tongue laps up the trickle of golden, angelic blood that leaks from the bite. 

With another groan, Aziraphale wrenches away and grasps Crowley’s face in both his hands, and claims his mouth fierce and fast. And before Crowley can react, Aziraphale drops to his knees and fumbles Crowley’s pants open and down. 

“Okay?” he asks and when Crowley nods, Aziraphale yanks off his boxer-briefs, revealing the substantial effort he’s made. Aziraphale swallows him down in one swift motion. If Crowley had had the wherewithal for coherent thought, he might have thought that Aziraphale seemed practiced at this, that he seemed ready, as though he’d been waiting for this very moment their entire relationship. But Crowley has no coherent thought, he has nothing beyond the sensation and the sight of the angel on his knees, as though he were worshiping Crowley in an unbecoming role-reversal. 

Crowley doesn’t deserve this, and yet he cannot bring himself to stop. He’s wanted this for too long, has thought about what Aziraphale might feel like, taste like, sound like. And so he braces himself against the counter with one hand, and threads the other into Aziraphale pristine white hair. 

Crowley gives his curls a gentle tug, and Aziraphale groans. Without stopping his movement along Crowley’s cock, he lifts one hand from Crowley’s hip. He slides it along Crowley’s stomach, his chest, his throat, and to the corner of Crowley’s mouth—his request unspoken but obvious. Crowley takes his fingers into his mouth, sucking them deeply, opening his jaw farther than it is supposed to. He twirls each side of his tongue around the intrusive digits to soak them as much as Aziraphale wants. 

Aziraphale pulls his fingers from Crowley’s mouth without preamble and shoves his boxers down more fully before reaching around to palm at Crowley’s cheeks. He spreads them and releases them and spreads them again before allowing his spit-slick finger to tease along the edge of Crowley’s hole. 

Crowley’s knees buckle at the sensation, heat flushes across his skin and scales.  Aziraphale uses his other hand to hold him up by the hip, while he miracles some lube onto the hand probing gently at Crowley’s entrance. Slick and ready, Aziraphale swallows Crowley’s cock fully as he shoves one finger firmly past Crowley’s rim. 

F-fuck ,” Crowley hisses, his fingers in Aziraphale’s hair tightening, “Angel, I’m not gunna—” 

Crowley can’t finish his sentence as Aziraphale thrusts his finger smoothly into Crowley’s hole, as Crowley’s bucking hips fuck his face. 

“Angel, Aziraphale, I’m—” Crowley whimpers and gives one final thrust into Aziraphale’s mouth as his orgasm racks his body. His legs waver, even as Aziraphale supports him. He swallows and releases Crowley’s cock with a pop, and stares up at him. 

Crowley can feel that his face and neck are covered with large patches of scales; his eyes are all but glowing with bright yellow. His teeth are bared; fangs pointed and violent. He looks like a demon, and yet, when Aziraphale looks at him, he can see something akin to adoration in his eyes.

“I know you who are, Crowley,” Aziraphle tells him, lifting up off his knees and stealing a brief kiss, “I’ve always known.” 

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