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New Skin for the Old Ceremony

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It wasn't always like this. Not always this intense, not always this...well, this. Crowley writhed on the forest floor, his body doubling around itself as he scratched against the bark of the little shrub, moving against it desperately. He relished the feel of the tear and the peel, the sharp edge of a little bit of pain heightening the pleasure of the sense of opening.

The dry shell of his old skin cracked and tore — it had been so constricting, so inflexible, so uncomfortable, that the sensation of the fresh, bright scales beneath touching the earth and the air and the sunlight for the first time was always delicious. But lately, the last few times, it had been intensely and strangely erotic. Crowley was feeling that now, almost overcome, sucking air urgently through his one long lung as he wriggled free of that dry old brittle tube, and....

Oh. Ohhhh.

Later, gradually, he uncoiled himself from himself, where his tail had found itself, self-pleasuring. He felt his sated hemipenes sliding back into his cloaca, and sighed, and smiled as much as the shape of his mouth would allow. His tongue scented the air, and himself, and it was good. He coiled again, under the warm-feeling gaze of a beam of sunlight filtering down through the trees.

When he woke again, it was a warm summer night, but he was still shivering. He was a man-shaped being this time, naked and smooth-skinned. He sat up with a little sigh and summoned himself some good clothes out of aether. But it was a shame to not get to show off such shiny new scales just a little bit. Just the feet then. The illusion of shoes convinced most people, and he could get some of the feel of the grass and the paving stones against his feet.

Perhaps it was because some part of him was not entirely sold on the entire concept of feet.

He'd done this before, in many centuries and many locales – his sandals or his boots always seeming to be of snakeskin. Sometimes they were sleek and solidly shiny black; sometimes they were heavy and lined with fur in the winter; sometimes they were wispy collections of thin straps of spotted or striped or rhombus-patterned scales.

This time, they were sharp-toed, high-end shoes—rather flash and ostentatious, showing up under his tailored black trousers like a little bit of tastelessness so incongruous it was charming, as if a stodgy and respectable man had pulled his tie aside to reveal a large gold zodiac medallion on his hairy chest. After all, in Crowley's case, it almost bordered on something resembling indecent exposure.

He didn't have to crawl on his belly anymore, not when he didn't want to—but he still liked having that little bit of contact with the ground, even the pavements of London.


Aziraphale was different when he returned from the latest trip he hadn't wanted to take in the first place. Nervous. Subdued.

“Your shop won't go out of business, you know,” Crowley said. “I don't even see how it makes any difference, you never sell any books even when you are there, you might as well leave it closed all the time.”

“It's not that, it's just...”

Crowley had been highly put out when Aziraphale had finally admitted to him that it was Uriel of all beings who'd put in the call. And the less Aziraphale was willing to tell him about this little favour, the less Crowley had liked it, especially since this was apparently under the angel table, not even something he could blame on Heaven.

He liked it less still when Aziraphale returned, locked the door to the shop behind him, turned on all the lights, and sat down on the ratty little sofa with an expression on his face that Crowley hadn't seen in twenty years: not since that very last moment when it still hadn't hit him yet that they'd almost tried to face down Lucifer himself—and hadn't had to die after all, after they'd been labouring under the impression that death was probably inevitable for quite some time. It had seemed to take Aziraphale to a little while to catch on that he was still present and accounted for.

“So where'd he take you?” Crowley asked, his hands trembling a little on the corkscrew, spilling a little wine – thankfully he was wearing black—and trying to act casual. Failing miserably.

“Chicago,” Aziraphale said.

“Chicago,” Crowley said, eyes narrowing. “Didn't think you were a big fan of the colonies. I hear they have some kind of cursed baseball team there. Romantic place, is it?”

“It is not like that, Crowley. Uriel and I? Really, my dear,” Aziraphale accepted the glass of wine gratefully, and chugged it all in one swig. Crowley watched the little red trickle leak out the side of his mouth. “It was a bit of a crisis. Highly sensitive...”

Crowley slammed down his glass so hard that only his force of will kept it intact. “Wait – wait—you know that conspiracy theory blog I read--”

“You mean the one you started?''

“Well yes – but it's outgrown little old me. I'm very proud. Seem to remember reading something utterly insane about Chicago, and the Shroud of Turin being stolen...and then some serious bilge about a sentimental mob boss?”

Aziraphale sighed and pinched his nose and held out his empty glass. Crowley couldn't help but notice the angel's hand was slightly shaking, and that raised an awareness somewhere in the back of his mind that maybe, just maybe, the teasing ought to be toned down a notch.

“It was true. And it was worse than that, so much worse.”

“Why didn't you let me come along? I could've helped. Er. I mean, I don't help of course, but I could've...You know. Moral support. Or immoral support—two angels on a mission, that's...not really fair and balanced, is it?”

“We didn't do much. We couldn't interfere. We just...witnessed. Crowley,” Aziraphale chugged wine again, and Crowley had to make sure the bottle refilled before he reached for it again. Aziraphale's cheeks were starting to flush a little, but the expression on his face suggested he'd have been pale if not for the wine. “I couldn't have you there, Crowley. Knights of the Cross. The Swords. All of them. And...well, er....your side was represented. Thoroughly. Terribly. I couldn't bear it if you...”

Crowley lunged forward and grabbed Aziraphale's shoulders. “Who? Who was it, who was there?”

“Blackened Denarians. That cult of the Fallen, with their human hosts.”

Crowley hissed in breath loud and sharply, and watched Aziraphale flinch. “Who? How many?”

“Nicodemus. Deirdre. Ursiel...”

“Who elsssse?”

“Please don't hiss, I can't...”

“Doesn't usually bother you.”

“I know, of them....”

“You saw Quintus Cassius?” Crowley squeaked.

“Yes, and....”

“Well, shit,” Crowley said, and he was still holding Aziraphale's shoulders, and he could almost see it; that hissing, slithering monstrosity (though handsome, Crowley had to admit, if you like that sort of thing) bearing down on Aziraphale, stretching up like a cobra and flashing his huge venomous fangs; dissipating into his swarm-of-snakes form, raining down on Aziraphale and wrapping him up in squeezing, biting agony.

The parasitic Saluriel probably couldn't kill an angel, but he could certainly have caused Aziraphale a world of hurt, and the idea of Aziraphale being harmed by some power-hungry part-former-mortal monster with a Judas coin (one of the potential thirty could theoretically exist) and a delusion of grandeur, who had the nerve to be a fucking snake demon, though a much less stylish one....

It made Crowley want to go all kingsnake on his poseur arse and just bite the demonic unlife out of the hissy little bastard.

“But it turned out all right, more or less. Saluriel isn't....not anymore, and Lasciel may not be all she seems, and I suppose if we hadn't, that wizard fellow Uriel likes for some reason would have died, and...”

“And if those crackpot conspiracy blogs are even a third right, that wizard fellow almost-dies three times a day before breakfast. Why did you need to be there? He's used to it. You're not!”

“I don't even know, Crowley. To bear witness, as I said.”

“When does that ever help?”

Aziraphale pulled away and frowned sharply. “You don't have to be so angry about it. It turned out all right in the end. I'm fine.”

“I just don't like you getting mixed up with...that.”

“I wasn't a fan of it myself. Would it make you feel better to know that Dresden broke Quintus Cassius's kneecaps with a baseball bat?”

“It would, actually,” Crowley said, laughing darkly. “Wait, he had kneecaps?”

“At the time, apparently. He'd given up the coin. Or so I was told. I wasn't there.”

“But you're still upset. You saw something.”

“I saw what Nicodemus did to defile the chapel at the airport.”

“You're shaking like a leaf over a defiled airport chapel? A bunch of goths with a Ouija board could do that.”

“There was blood and torture involved, and I know you don't handle that well. And it could have been bad, Crowley. Really bad.”

“Worse than the end of the world? Which didn't happen?”

Aziraphale thought for a moment. “Possibly, yes. Maybe. A world that doesn't end, but goes on existing – in the way Nicodemus wanted to make it...?”

“But it worked all right, didn't it? More or less?”

“I suppose. More or less.”

But something had changed, something in the way Aziraphale touched Crowley's face. Crowley parted his lips to say something, and promptly forgot what it was when Aziraphale removed his sunglasses and looked deep into his eyes.

“I never understood why people are afraid of snakes, before,” Aziraphale said.

“Well, some of us are venomous,” Crowley said softly. “Some more than others.”

“Are you?”

“I can be.” If you want me to be, Crowley thought but didn't say. “And...I think, it's the way we move. When we don't have legs.”

“It is...distinctive.”

“Unique,” Crowley said in a near-whisper, nervous, unaccountably nervous with Aziraphale's lips so close. “ some.”

“Yes, and the skin. The skin you always wear. Why is that? Why have you worn snakeskin for thousands of years? Your shoes. Your belt. Doesn't that feel a little, oh, I don't know, cannibalistic?”

Crowley stopped breathing and blinking altogether when Aziraphale took his wrist and laid him slowly backwards on the sofa. Oh. Well, Crowley wasn't going to complain, but the intensity of Aziraphale's gaze always unnerved him, laid him just a little too far open. “It's not....well, it's....”

Aziraphale leaned forward and took Crowley by the ankles, drawing his legs up across his lap, and he reached forward and touched the sleek-scaled shoes, and then felt Crowley shiver. Aziraphale gasped sharply as his hand continued up Crowley's trouser leg and felt that there was no sharp delineation where shoes ended, that the scales continued smoothly up his calf. “It's your skin,” he said in amazement.

“Yeah, I...I like to...keep some of it. Most of the time,” Crowley whispered. Surely now of all times, after a brush with a nasty little negative-naga monster like Quintus Cassius, if Aziraphale was ever going to be repulsed, now would be the time.

Aziraphale seemed anything but, trailing his fingers over Crowley's right arch and instep in a way that didn't quite tickle, not exactly, but Crowley shuddered and jerked a little anyway—and then relaxed his ankle, pressing his foot into the warm, soft grip of Aziraphale's hand. Aziraphale responded by stroking it in much the same way he'd stroke some other part of Crowley's body—well, his human body anyway—and to nearly the same effect, as Crowley couldn't restrain a soft moan.

“It's so...smooth, like shiny leather,” Aziraphale said, a little breathless, circling his grip around Crowley's slim ankle. “But then...” he changed the direction of his stroke, and felt a roughness as the scales lightly lifted, and Crowley groaned and bit his lip.

“I...Azzziraphale...” Crowley's body writhed a little, and he felt an odd pressure in his hips, as if his legs wanted to press together and fuse into one long column, but they couldn't, not with Aziraphale turning and sliding in between them, rising slowly and steadily up Crowley's body with that firm, intent look on his face.

Aziraphale traced fingers on the fabric of Crowley's trousers, and they disappeared, rearranging in a neat folded pile on the coffee table. Crowley laughed softly, and then stopped laughing as scales followed the trace of Aziraphale's hand up the inside of his right thigh, skin changing to shiny, greenish-black scales as they went. Scales rose on the back of his hands as he reached up to stroke Aziraphale's hair and pull him close, and the tongue he slipped into Aziraphale's tentative mouth was forked.

“Are you scared?” Crowley asked.

“I don't want to be,” Aziraphale said. “I never was before.”

“Don't be scared. I won't bite unless you want me to. I won't coil around and squeeze you unless you want me to.”

“And what if I do want you to?”

“I'll think about it.”

Oh, the things his tongue could do now, in this form-- he could taste Aziraphale's hormones rising, he could feel the butterfly vibrations of his speeding pulse, almost hear the thrumming vibrations of angelic essence contained in a mortal package.

He slid his hand down to Aziraphale's rather glorious mortal package with an arm that didn't quite bend in an entirely human way, squeezing and caressing with a motion of rippling muscle under skin that wasn't quite like the way a human hand moves. Aziraphale moaned appreciatively and unbuttoned Crowley's shirt instead of vanishing it, licking at strip by strip of exposed skin, now lightly freckled with soft, tiny scales that responded to his mouth with little rises, shiny with the wetness of his tongue.

“Crowley, so hot, so good....”

“Going to get better,” Crowley whispered, drawing his legs up around Aziraphale, bent sharply and spread wide, nuzzling his ankle against Aziraphale's face to feel that mouth on the smooth scales there. Aziraphale's hand was moving down to his cock, and Crowley was using his full will to keep it humanlike so Aziraphale wouldn't get a real shock—but maybe he'd like that, so he took a plunge and whispered, “I'll keep it human for you...for now..but someday, I won't. Someday I'll wrap my tail around you and you'll be having what a snake's got, and you'll like it, and you'll beg me to change every time we fuck after that, won't you?”

Aziraphale made a high-pitched, strangled sound and managed to sink down Crowley's belly far enough to take Crowley's cock in his mouth, flicking his tongue around the head as he sank down and down, humming for vibrations as Crowley's hand slipped into his hair.

Oh fuck fuck yes, Crowley barely exhaled as Aziraphale took him in deep, almost as deep as Crowley could when he did this, impressive with a jaw that couldn't unhinge—oh, just soft lips cushioning Aziraphale's teeth and pulling at Crowley's tender skin, making some resistance for his thrusts. That soft wet inside, that playing, pressing tongue, that heavy suction, building up power as Crowley moved in and out, a delicious pressure building in his balls, and Aziraphale's deft manicured hand pushing between Crowley's thighs, to cradle and squeeze them gently as Crowley arched up.

Crowley gasped and whined, moaning out a warning in a broken voice, and if anything Aziraphale sank down further and ran a hand up under Crowley's back as his spine arched in a way no human's would.

Crowley was always amazed by this, the way Aziraphale swallowed down every thing he gave, and then always gave Crowley that self-pleased little smile, like the cat that just swallowed the, well, cream. (Not the canary.)

“Come here,” Crowley growled, pulling Aziraphale's face up his body towards his own.

“Oh yes,” Aziraphale said, “yes, yes please,” as Crowley's hands were suddenly all over him, stripping away shirt and trousers and everything under them til he had Aziraphale bare against him, soft pink slightly golden-haired human skin writhing all over his own mix of skin and scales. He bucked and twisted under Aziraphale, giving him a feel of serpentine strength in his torso and his limps, his fingers flicking over sensitive places like a collection of sensing tongues.

“Let's do that thing you like,” Crowley whispered with his fingers twisting lightly around the head of Aziraphale's cock, slick and wet and hot. He twisted under Aziraphale, enough to press his thighs tightly together and guide that eager flesh in between them, clenching and moaning as Aziraphale spread his own legs and then brought them close, holding Crowley's legs tight around them. “Ohh yes, c'mon angel,” Crowley gasped. “Ride me hard, c'mon. Come all over me.”

Aziraphale groaned and began to thrust firmly, and Crowley's hands – one on his arse, one on his back – drove him on, pushed him deep between Crowley's legs, rubbing against his oversensitised cock and balls, delicious friction between his thighs that Aziraphale eased with a mutter and a conjured smear of slickness. And Crowley held his legs together to make it good and tight for him, and then shuddered as his ankles fit together and his knees reached out for each other, and oh help, Somebody, his legs were fusing together and there was nothing to be done for it but let it happen.

Crowley just put all his force of will into keeping his legs as normal legs where Aziraphale was driving in between them, though, because he didn't think Aziraphale would really want that sprung on him. Which mean he lost control over the lower half of what had been his legs – which was now undeniably his tail, and it slipped around, sinuously, between their bodies, wrapping a coil gently around Aziraphale's waist, and caressing his sweaty, flushed cheek, and just teased with the notion of coiling its tip around his neck. Recent trauma. Snake-related. Don't.

Aziraphale might not have cared, lost as he was in the pleasure of moving against Crowley and feeling that cool, dry, firm snakeskin embracing him everywhere. His wings emerged and rose and spread, shivering feathers against Crowley's scales; his movements grew harder and sharper and more erratic, his vocalised breaths grew more like moans, and he tensed up violently and came, spilling himself into what was thankfully not a cloaca, no, whew, managed to keep that human at least.

Aziraphale didn't move for a long time, just buried his face in the juncture of Crowley's neck and shoulder and gasped for a little while. Crowley was almost beginning to worry, threading fingers through Aziraphale's hair, when Aziraphale lifted his head up and smiled. “Fascinating creatures, snakes.”

“And demons?” Crowley said quietly.

“Can be fascinating. The kind that can still surprise one, sometimes.”

“Wasn't it a surprise when that little bastard gave up the coin?”

“I meant pleasant surprises, Crowley. Not the usual old treacheries. Something new and....”

“Ssssshhh,” Crowley hissed, touching a finger to Aziraphale's lips. “Husssh. Have some more wine.”

Aziraphale's smile was both beatific and a little bit promising of some more interesting developments in the near future. “Don't mind if I do.”

And the brush of his fingers over Crowley's bare-scaled feet warmed even a cold-blooded creature down to his very innards; even if all would never be right with the world, at least most was more than good enough.