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Ropes and Snares

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It wasn't the first time Aziraphale had followed Crowley home for reasons their superiors would likely take a dim view of, though it was more often Crowley who turned a quiet evening in into an embarrassing morning after. It wasn't even the first time Aziraphale had made the suggestion sober, under no apparent duress and without ulterior motive.[1]

It was, however, the first time he'd ever seen Crowley hesitate at the door.

"Er, it might be a bit of a mess," Crowley warned, glancing uncertainly over his shoulder at Aziraphale while fumbling with his keys. "You know how it is. Wasn't expecting company. Erm."

Aziraphale arched a bewildered brow and kept his smile nailed on tight. Having a messy flat implied a certain amount of clutter, and Crowley didn't believe in clutter. His various residences, while inevitably stylish, tended to be welcoming in the same way as the better class of hotel.

"Really, my dear," Aziraphale murmured gamely, "we've known each other far too long to stand on ceremony. And besides, I think I've found worse things in your flat over the years than a few books out of place."

"It's not the books I'm worried about," Crowley muttered, throwing the locks at last and peering around the edge of the door as he pushed it open.

The flat was dark, the striped glow of the streetlamps through the blinds blurring the sleek, modern edges of the furnishings, but angelic eyesight was acute, and Aziraphale saw nothing amiss. Neither, it seemed, did Crowley, if the faint sigh of relief as the lights were flicked on was anything to go by. Sauntering casually away from the door and leaving Aziraphale to close it behind them, Crowley tossed his jacket at the coat stand and waved vaguely at the couch, or perhaps the kitchen, saying, "Anyway, make yourself at home." As if he hadn't just been worrying about what he'd find on the other side of his own front door.

Aziraphale glanced around surreptitiously, but nothing sprang out of the shadows or slithered away from the light. The worst that could be said was that Crowley's window sills were getting a bit cluttered with pots, though the plants themselves were just lovely.

Wandering over for a closer look, Aziraphale bit his lip, torn between admiration and concern. Certainly they were the most gorgeous plants he'd seen since the original Garden, but he shuddered to think what horrors Crowley must have threatened them with to produce such--

In the midst of a startled double-take, his jaw sagged open rather inelegantly then closed with a snap. "That's not the Haworthia I gave you...?"

"It most certainly is," Crowley replied proudly, fetching up at Aziraphale's side while the angel stared, dumbfounded.

"But...but the size of it!"

Crowley coughed, almost as if embarrassed, but rallied quickly. "I think I've just about got its number, water-wise."

And it'd been such a little thing when he bought it. To be fair, he'd purchased it more with its hardiness in mind than any hope that it could compete with its flashier brethren, but after a year in Crowley's company, it more than held its own. "Oh. Well, I see. They're all very impressive, of course. That is...those ferns...."

"They want a delicate hand, but it's a surprisingly sturdy strain."

"And that ivy--"

"Mm. Very flexible. It'll take hold just about anywhere."

"And the spider plants--"

"They'd completely take over if I let them," Crowley said with a shrug and an odd little grin.

Aziraphale sighed, brushing his fingertips over the leaves of a quivering ficus. "The poor dears."

It wasn't until he actually touched one that Aziraphale realized Crowley's wasn't the only demonic aura in the room--or, rather, that Crowley's aura wasn't only coming from Crowley. It was a common enough hazard whenever one of them stayed in one place for any length of time. Bits of their essences tended to spill over and stain the world around them with shades of the infernal or divine. Aziraphale had come across traces of Crowley before in places he'd haunted and things he valued. Climbing into the Bentley was a bit like wrapping himself up in a warm, cozy, Crowley-scented blanket[2], and the one time he'd picked up Crowley's discarded sunglasses at the tail end of a long night, he'd had to sit down rather sharply afterwards. It was just that he'd never felt Crowley's mark on anything alive before, and sensing it now made him hesitate just a bit too long. Or perhaps just long enough.

Crowley's plants had always had a tendency to stretch their leaves in his direction when he visited, and he'd gotten very good at telling himself they were reacting to his angelness, seeking light and warmth the way anything green would, and not reaching out piteously in a mute plea for rescue. For once it didn't feel like turning a blind eye; what he sensed as the ficus curled vibrant, slightly-waxy leaves around his fingers was something like a purr, pure contentment and lazy satisfaction, and--

Oh. Oh, goodness.

"Crowley--" he began, shocked and startled and--was Crowley trying to unsettle him on purpose? But no--Crowley was absently petting the leaves of his ivy, letting it curl around his wrist and palm like an affectionate snake, a comparison that seemed all too apt at the moment.

The odd sense of hunger the ficus was projecting didn't fade, and it didn't let go of his hand.

"It's all right," Crowley said, his grin sharp but perhaps not quite as certain as he would have liked it to appear. "It's not like any of them are carnivorous."

"Car--what? No, wiled your plants, Crowley?"

"Who said anything about wiles?" Crowley defended with a hurt look. "There's no wiles about it. I mean," he added, warming to the subject as the plants around him began to shiver and stretch, "there you are, being a good gardener, making sure everybody has enough water and light and--"

"You had no idea this was going to happen," Aziraphale interrupted as half his arm was enveloped, "did you?"

Crowley smiled. He looked terribly like his old self in that moment, or some older self at least, surrounded by a veritable forest of restless, determined green. "Not one clue," he admitted, watching Aziraphale from over the rims of his sunglasses. "But I'm not exactly complaining, either."

It was all very well and good for Crowley not to complain, but Aziraphale was used to his plants being a bit less willful. A bit less sentient would have been comforting as well, because if this collection of rapidly-growing flora had been absorbing Crowley's particular essence, then they had almost certainly also absorbed his--

Angels as a rule do not squeak.[3] Most of the Host would have considered it undignified, and the rest reacted unpredictably to being surprised, to say the least. Nevertheless, what emerged from Aziraphale as his arms and legs were looped by thick coils of green was definitely an "Eep!"

The vines were strong and they were quick, neither of which should have been a surprise, seeing as they were running on pure distillation of Serpent. Before the idea even occurred to him to make himself heavy, he found himself picked up from the floor entirely, writhing ticklishly as curious tendrils investigated his jumper, his trouser cuffs and the starched line of his collar at his nape. "That's--stop that--Crowley, do something!"

"Relax," the demon said, stepping closer, but as the first tendril slithered its way under his untucked shirt and along his spine, Aziraphale panicked. Just a little.

The ripping of pressed cotton and sensible cable knit was startlingly loud in the stillness of the flat, and the abrupt unfurling of his wings nearly saw him in a heap on the floor as the vines that held him ducked almost a foot in startled reaction. Honestly, they could have dropped him on his head and he would have counted it an even trade; at the moment his only concern was getting free of this infernal vegetation before it--

"Aziraphale. Angel. Hey." He blinked, startled, but it was only Crowley there, Crowley and his strangely worried plants. "It's just me."

Oh. Well...yes. Yes, of course. Overly-friendly though they might be, what held him was still Crowley's. He might have remembered that earlier if he hadn't been so startled.

"You might have warned me," he murmured with a hint of reproach, but he relaxed back, just a little, into the coils still wound around him.

"Wasn't sure I'd need to," Crowley replied with a shrug, coming closer still as Aziraphale calmed. "I mean, they might not have fancied you."

Aziraphale quirked a brow and tried very hard not to smile. There was a good possibility that Crowley wouldn't forgive him if he sounded too sure of his welcome, but he thought he knew his demon by now. Really, he'd been unforgivably silly a moment ago, hadn't he?

"Oh," he said, watching with perhaps a hint more fondness than he could reasonably hope to get away with as Crowley closed the final distance. "Well, I wouldn't want to presume."

He was still mostly upright, but being suspended off the floor meant Crowley had to reach up to hook the back of his neck, and the vines had to cooperate to lower him down, and he had to give in to it, curve himself to their bending, for Crowley to claim his mouth for a kiss.

Crowley had never been shy with his kisses. Admittedly, Crowley was never shy about anything, but kissing in particular he'd taken to with enthusiasm, and if nature--or supernature--had given him certain advantages, he wasn't shy about that, either.

Feeling the curl of a serpentine tongue around his own, Aziraphale gave a sigh just a little too breathy to be called a moan, closing his eyes and leaning in for more. While it couldn't be said that he forgot his predicament in the slightest, it was still surprisingly odd to feel the tug at his wrists as he reached unthinkingly for his opposite. "Nnn," he groaned into Crowley's mouth, because it was hardly fair, was it? There he was, letting himself be kissed, and stroked as Crowley's hands found his chest, his feathers delicately and deliciously ruffled as soft tendrils slid up his back, and all he could do was--

"Relax," Crowley said again, leaning back just enough that the pointed tips of his tongue flicked Aziraphale's lips as they caught the final sibilant with relish.

He wanted to protest that it wasn't that easy, not with Crowley's hands making torturously slow work of his belt, the furtive touches all along his wings and through the down where feathers met flesh. Crowley's mouth especially was not what he'd call relaxing, not while it was trailing kisses along his collarbone, teeth lightly scoring his skin now and then just to remind him that they were there. It wasn't until Crowley had him stripped entirely bare that he realized he could have miracled the rest of his clothes to join the shredded remains of his shirt and jumper himself.

"Mm," Crowley hummed as Aziraphale shuddered against him, twitching as his wings were coaxed wide, tangled and pinned. "You like that?"


"Because you look amazing like that," Crowley added, not making him say it, just watching hungrily as the vines shifted, tipped Aziraphale back and back. Crowley didn't remove the hand that had been cupping Aziraphale's cheek, and as the angel was repositioned, it slid down his chest, his belly, long, cool fingers trailing casually over his cock.

Completely at his mercy was what Crowley meant. That was what he looked like, wings and arms and legs all stretched, laid out like a sacrifice. It ought to have worried him, because everything around him smelled-tasted-resonated with demon, and he was caught, too neatly to fight.

Only it was Crowley, so instead he smiled, met glittering yellow eyes, and said, "Show me."

It was good, he decided disjointedly, to have something to tug against, something to hold him still as Crowley did wicked things with his tongue, then his fingers, that left him gasping. Good to have some sort of anchor when he finally hit upon the right mantra to break even Crowley's patience, some ineffable combination of Please and Crowley and Need you that brought the demon up off his knees at last. There was no pausing for a sartorial miracle, none of Crowley's usual fastidiousness about his clothes, only the brief grate of a zipper, a strangled hiss that might have been a prayer or a particularly virulent curse, and Crowley slid into him slick and surprisingly easy, considering that Aziraphale was in no state to alter himself so conveniently.

"Ngh," Crowley groaned, head down, eyes closed, resting against him as if afraid to move. "Angel."

He couldn't reach for Crowley, could barely twitch in the coils that held him, but he arched his spine just so, tightened up around Crowley's cock, and felt the demon shudder as hips rocked mindlessly forward.

"Yes?" He said it lightly, meaning to tease Crowley a little, having never seen him quite so on the edge of control.

Only Crowley took it as a different sort of question--possibly even as permission--breathed "Yes" back at him, and began to move.

It was fast, not half as determinedly playful as their usual nor half so rough as he might have feared if he'd ever given it the slightest thought. No games, no clever banter to distract them. There was only Crowley, who never took his eyes off Aziraphale, who pounded into him without holding back but also without meanness, knowing Aziraphale could take it. Trusting him to make his desires known.

"Want you," Aziraphale moaned, curling his palms in, his fingers hooking around the vines that held him to hold them in turn. "Oh, Crowley...want you so much...."

Crowley's dark lashes fluttered down, his voice rougher than Aziraphale had ever heard it when it finally emerged. "Az...Azira...."

He could no more say it than he could dye his wings white again, but Aziraphale heard it all the same, as intoxicating to him as want was to a demon.

"Please," he begged, helpless to do anything else, and finally felt Crowley's hand curl around him, familiar and perfect, as he bucked, writhed, and came so hard he thought he might actually have discorporated himself.

When he came back with a stretch, the first thing he noticed was that he was free to move again. The second was an unexpected pall of mild disappointment, which was just silly, really. He could hardly do his job if he spent all his time helpless in the clutches of some demon. And besides, their Arrangement had always been meant to be reciprocal.

The third thing he noticed was that the bed he was lying on was rather inexplicably excitable, and he opened his eyes with lazy curiosity to find that the plants had not in fact returned themselves to their original form.

Lying on his side, cheek propped up on his fist, Crowley watched him with a faint, possessive smile, only a shade more predatory than usual but quite a bit more fond. He'd banished his clothes at some point, and the contrast of restless green across the paleness of his skin was a lovely one, though Aziraphale noticed Crowley didn't flinch at all from the strangeness of it. Almost as if he was used to it.

The Haworthia Aziraphale had given Crowley looked downright intimidating in its augmented form, and the way it slithered against Crowley was in danger of making Aziraphale blush. Not because he was the least bit jealous. More because he wondered whether Crowley's plants would take suggestions, or even requests.

"Crowley?" he asked, reaching out to trace the line of a sharp cheekbone and smiling a little, shyly, as a ridged green limb nudged at his hand, demanding its own share of attention.

"My turn, Angel," Crowley rasped with a grin, rolling over and on top of Aziraphale, pinning him down with a hard, hungry kiss--

--and lacing his fingers in Aziraphale's own, groaning, as he spread his knees just that much wider, grinding his hips down into Aziraphale's and dragging in a hissing breath.

"Crowley," Aziraphale managed, cheeks heating, eyes gone wide, wishing suddenly that he could see this.

"Just...getting myself ready for you," Crowley said, all cocksure bravado, though in the back of his eyes there was a dark flicker of uncertainty.

Leaning up to press his brow to Crowley's, Aziraphale kissed him lightly, almost chastely, and smiled.

"Then I'd like to watch you properly, my dear. You're quite in the way of being amazing yourself."

Not at an angel's mercy, no. But laying every part of himself, every need and desire and doubt, at Aziraphale's feet in hope and trust.

"Whatever you want," Crowley murmured, closing his eyes, but not before Aziraphale saw the relief there, the perfect, aching contentment and peace.


[1] For instance, he'd kept Crowley in bed for the better part of a week while Michael had been chatting up a young peasant girl in France, though he needn't have bothered. Far from being annoyed, Crowley had eventually surrounded the poor girl with an honor guard of his own people, all the better to get England's soldiers out of France's vineyards.
[2] If a blanket could both rumble and purr, and sort of preen, and make everyone who saw him with it sick with envy. The Bentley, Aziraphale often thought, had soaked up entirely too much of Crowley's aura over the years, and it was only a matter of time before it started acting like it didn't need a reservation to get its oil changed.
[3] Although Gabriel was so painfully clean and shiny, Crowley was often tempted to rub him with a damp fingertip to see if he would.