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After Armageddon’t, there is a decision: London is too crowded, too noisy.

How could they possibly decide who’s flat to live in? Doesn’t it just make more sense to live somewhere new where the forces of Heaven and Hell won’t come knocking on their door? Yes, it was time to leave the city, they decided. So when a perfect little two-bedroom cottage “miraculously” came available in South Downs, book collections were packed (and begrudgingly downsized), apartments were sold, furniture was loaded up in a moving van, and all their worldly goods were moved to their new home.

After Armageddohnowaitnevermind, Aziraphale learned just how horribly Crowley treats his plants.

The spare bedroom had been filled wall to bookshelves (Aziraphale had done a decent job downsizing his collection, but centuries of hoarding required quite a bit of storage space) so it had seemed only fair that the sunroom had become Crowley’s sanctuary from the world. Shelves were lined with flowers and succulents, large plants sat in pots in the corners, and hanging baskets were suspended from the ceiling. It was quite the upgrade from what had existed in his flat, but once Aziraphale had gotten caught up in decorating the cottage, their trips to the store had led to him falling in love with the colorful blooms and him convincing Crowley to add them to his collection.

His inability to say no to his angel was not an element of the after, it had been deep in his heart since the beginning.

It was exactly this inability to say no that was causing conflict within him now. He hadn’t exactly meant for Aziraphale to witness him putting the fear of... erm, well Somebody in his plants. In fact, he had been avoiding this scenario for the last few decades knowing that the angel would not be best pleased about it. This is why his blood suddenly ran cold (not that it had been warm before) when he heard “What on Earth are you yelling about in there?” from around the corner.

He snapped up from his position towering over an orchid and stood straight as a ruler, hands tucked behind his back with his plant mister held in his grip. “Nothing angel, nothing to worry about!” Before he could terrify them into stopping, Aziraphale had rounded the corner and his eyes caught sight of the trembling plants behind Crowley.

His brow furrowed into an expression of worry as he approached, taking a trembling blossom under his fingers. The shaking stopped immediately, the plant recognizing the angel as the benevolent presence that sang when water was delivered. “Really,” he sighed after a moment, “tell me you aren’t yelling at them again.”

“Again?” Crowley cocked an eyebrow, “when have you ever heard me yell at them before?”

“Well my dear you aren’t exactly subtle about it. 1992 I came to collect you for lunch and caught you in the act,” he said, taking the mister out of Crowley’s hand and setting it on the shelf. “While I didn’t mention it I had hoped you would at least avoid the practice when it came our new additions.” His voice had no sharpness about it, but the disappointment cut Crowley nonetheless, like a mother insisting she isn’t angry that you broke her favorite lamp. “I won’t tell you how to take care of the ones that are yours, but I would like to provide a nurturing environment for those that are still growing.” The advocacy was enough to stop the shaking, and the plants stood tall in their pots.

Crowley practically chewed on his tongue, deeply conflicted between giving in to the angel and standing firm in his practices. After all, they had proven successful since the seventies.

Blue eyes turned and looked at him pleadingly and that was it, he was done for.

“Fine,” he conceded after a while, his voice dripping with begrudging resentment. “I’ll separate our plants from my own and raise them in a... less hostile... environment.”

That was not quite enough to earn approval, but it was enough to make the frown disappear from the angel’s features and for that, Crowley was grateful. “Well it’s not ideal, but it is a start. Most of these will have enough sunlight in our bedroom, and the others we can move to the porch. Come on then.”

After the disagreement, there was a drastic difference in how the plants of the household are treated. The smaller pots in their bedroom were given words of angelic praise when they were watered. They also had classical music played twice a day, which Crowley claimed was overkill. “Really angel,” he had said, “Bach? You know where he went, right? Do you really want to corrupt the succulents with his sinful influence?” “Nonsense,” had been the reply, “no matter how he spent his personal time, his music is still very influential to successful growing patterns.” Meanwhile, the tall branches that filled the sunroom continued to receive the same treatment they had always had under Crowley’s hand–verbal abuse and fear for their life. There was, however, one tiny difference.

Each night while Crowley slept sprawled out on their bed, Aziraphale would sneak down the hall and pull a chair up among the plants. There, he would talk to them.

His conversation began with an apology but had with time become a way of talking to himself and organizing whatever thoughts were running rampant through his head. He became the benevolent presence of the household, someone that would not cause the plants to shit themselves whenever he was around (not that plants were capable of self-fertilizing in the first place). He also did something that would be seen as treasonous if he were to be found out.

He would talk to the plants about Crowley. Good things. Embarrassing things. Aziraphale would gush about his smile or the kind thing the demon had done. He would mention Crowley’s attempts at baking for him and the way he hummed under his breath while he did so. He was particularly fond of mentioning how much Crowley loved to be held and have his back rubbed or be spooned or how he liked to be forked. He wasn’t certain that the plants could understand him (I mean plants weren’t supposed to be sentient, after all), but he did begin to notice results as the fear of Crowley slowly diminished until they barely swayed in the wind when they were yelled at.

This drove Crowley absolutely batshit. He couldn’t for the life of him figure out why his scare tactics weren’t working, and it was beginning to piss him off, not that it took much to piss Crowley off. He would yell and rave at the plants whenever he was certain Aziraphale was out of earshot, but he got nothing. Not even a wiggle from the plants. And then there was the storm.

A crash of thunder had jolted him awake, causing him to sit up straight and reach for the angel that was supposed to be in bed next to him. He felt nothing but silk sheets under his fingers. His heart continued to pound as he flung the duvet back and got to his feet. “Angel?” he called out to no reply. He called again, “Angel!” but got the same silence as before. He got to his feet and shuffled down the hallway, his mind thinking the worst. They had been found. Heaven and Hell knew the stunt they had pulled and had taken Aziraphale from him. His life was over his–

A voice became clear as he moved down the hallway. His heart continued to pound in his chest. He crept slowly along the floor, eventually getting the idea to shrink down into his serpentine form. Low and dark-colored, he slithered silently down the hallway nearly invisible. The voice grew louder and more recognizable. Aziraphale. He was still there he was still with him he was... he sounded happy.

What the snake did not anticipate in his panic-driven scenario was the sight of his angel smiling brightly, holding a mug in one hand as he rambled excitedly to a room full of greenery. Crowley stayed glued to the floor, staying out of his angel’s line of sight and listened.

“...and really, he’s very thoughtful even if he doesn’t show it to the outside world. You know, just last week he decided to make a cake while I was out. Dug out a cookbook and everything. Angel’s food it was called, and it’s just like him to be clever like that with the jokes. He said he got the idea from Adam making cookies with his mother. That’s another thing, as much as he dragged his feet around the boy at first, he really does care about him. Checks in and keeps in touch much better than I do. And even though the cake was quite overcooked he looked so very proud of himself over it that I just couldn’t help but finish it.”

There was, dare he say it, embarrassment in the demon’s mind. Not the angry kind, but the fond feeling one gets when their mother brags about their report card to her friends. Still behind the angel, he slowly morphed back to his human form, a tinge of pink in his cheeks. His arms wrapped around the angel’s neck, and Aziraphale didn’t so much as flinch as he felt Crowley’s arms around his neck or his lips on his cheek. All he did was hum with delight. “What are you doing up my dear? It’s quite late.”

“Storm woke me,” came the murmured reply, “and you weren’t there. I didn’t expect to see you in here sowing treason.” His lips found their way back to the angel’s cheek, then his ear, neck, and shoulder before he buried his face in the crook of his neck.

Aziraphale smiled warmly, setting down his mug so that he could reach up and run his fingers through Crowley’s hair. “Really darling, treason? All I’m doing is giving them a fighting chance against your poison tongue. In case you haven’t noticed from the jungle in our bedroom, kindness really is an exceptional fertilizer.”

“I’m sure you’ll disagree the first time you have to clean crumpled brown leaves off the carpeted floor,” the demon chided, but there was no bite in his words.

Aziraphale hummed and turned his head to kiss the top of Crowley’s. “Have they not flourished in here the last few weeks?” He received a grumble in reply. “I’m sorry dear, what was that? I was right and you were wrong?”

Crowley pulled a face but stayed nuzzled where he was. “I said I’ll go easier on them if you come back to bed and stop leaving it for the sake of undermining me.”

“Well,” the angel replied, getting to his feet and taking his cup to the kitchen. “That sounds like an agreement I can get behind.” He turned on his feet and cupped Crowley’s face in his hands, kissing his once-again sleepy brow before taking his hand and leading him back to bed. “Perhaps if you show me you can do a good job I’ll let you start a garden.” There was a happy silence between them as they moved back towards their room for exactly three seconds. Then:

“Did I really overcook my cake?”