aj_crawley: (bentley aeronautics)
aj_crawley ([personal profile] aj_crawley) wrote2009-09-02 06:03 am

(no subject)

On the first day, they don't visit the orchard.

Crowley wakes up in the night; once to the high-pitched screaming of a fox, and again when the bells are jangling out the call to matins, loud and ringing in the dark. The second time, Aziraphael stirs beneath his arm, the sound wired directly to years and years of ingrained habit - but if he, too, wakes, he doesn't show it.

Feeling as though his chest might crush inwards under the sudden weight of his gratitude, Crowley presses a kiss to Aziraphael's shoulder through the blankets, and lays his head back down on the pillow.

They spend the day in bed (where Aziraphael reads aloud and tries not to spill his tea when he turns the page), or on the couch (where they talk about nothing, and only one of them is ever sitting up straight at a time), or out against the south wall of the gatehouse (where their fingers tangle loosely in the grass, and their faces turn up to the sun).

"It's funny, you know, foxes," Aziraphael says at one point. "I expect there's a litter of kits down near the river by now; the mother has been an absolute terror to keep away from the henhouse. But they do make such a fuss about their territory, and now it just seems rather more trouble than it's worth to try and get rid of them. Ingenious, really."

Crowley slants a glance sideways, certain that Aziraphael is making fun of him in some obscure way. He finds, though, that he doesn't mind.

[identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com 2009-09-02 05:05 am (UTC)(link)
The next day, which is a Thursday, they do find their way to the orchard, and Aziraphael could swear he sees an uneasy frisson rustle through the trees, from one to the next and all the way down the leafy avenues, before Crowley even crosses into the shadow of the canopy.

It's good to watch him work. Not only for the obvious reasons: that it's Crowley, that he's home again, that this is familiar, and comfortable, and lovely; that Crowley himself admittedly makes quite the picture, hand pressed to the bark of an apple tree beneath the stippled sunlight. It's good to watch him work because of how Crowley seems to enjoy it, a sharp grin of satisfaction slicing across his face with each piece of fruit that nervously swells a little heavier on its branch, with each terrified leaf that has even dared to hint at the coming of autumn unfurling again, glossy green blooming back across the onset of oranges and reds.

They stroll down the dappled cloisters together, grass swishing about their feet, Aziraphael a little behind (or a small way ahead) each time Crowley detours to whip another one into shape. A little after two, they spread a blanket on the ground, and Aziraphael eats a sandwich and a windfall apple while Crowley opines at some length on the sad state of affairs here, and how lucky the abbey is that he, Crowley, is around to take matters into hand. The juice of the apple bursts across his tongue, tart and sweet and almost forgotten after so long.

It's good to watch him work, but here again there is a double-edged sword. Aziraphael thinks he understands the hardness that fleets through Crowley's smile when he cows another tree into verdant submission; thinks he understands, and wishes that he didn't. Not like this.

It's all about discipline.

It's all about control.

[identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com 2009-09-02 05:08 am (UTC)(link)
It's only been four days since the shaky transport from Jubilee landed, and a borrowed skimmer touched down unannounced on the Southdown landing pad. But then, four days is an age by some reckonings. There's no skimmer this time, no craft of any sort to give Aziraphael a little warning. Even so, as he sets out towards the gatehouse from the abbey proper late in the afternoon, he knows who's arrived - would know, in fact, even if he couldn't sense it. Raguel is standing in the middle of a field almost halfway between the two, talking to the homemade scarecrow set to guard the neat rows of vegetables. Some of the stuffing is coming out from underneath its ragged hat, and Raguel tucks it back in almost tenderly as Aziraphael watches.

The hazy sunlight has slanted dramatically, casting a near-complete shadow across half of the scarecrow, and as Raguel whispers earnestly to it Aziraphael has to struggle to rid himself of the illusion that the thing is moving. Raguel, he notes, is crushing the nearest tomato plant.

He clears his throat.

"Hello," Raguel says, without turning around. "I, er." He stops, as though he's forgotten why he's standing there, and pokes at the stuffing once again.

"Good afternoon," Aziraphael replies, an arch tone beginning to creep into his voice. It's been a long day, and although his patience for this sort of thing is not so thin as it once was, he has, at this point, run into more delays than he'd have thought possible for a single afternoon. In the distance, he can see the smoke rising from the gatehouse chimney, pale grey and enticing.

"Crowley's better?" After a moment Raguel turns, sheepishly, and Aziraphael feels a part of himself thawing a little at the question.

"Yes," he replies, after only a short pause. "I'm off to make sure of it now, in fact."

"I'll come with you." Raguel says it almost as though it's a question, but takes a step forward before Aziraphael can even think to move; he has to trot for a few yards to catch up with the demon.

The walk passes in silence.

"I expect he's sleeping at the moment," Aziraphael says, slowing as they near the front door. He offers it without explanation, but whether or not his voice gives anything away is another matter. Crowley has been sleeping a lot, the past few days.

"Is he okay?" Raguel asks, suddenly frowning in concern.



"He will be. It's early yet."

"Okay," Raguel says, following Aziraphael quietly inside. They're barely over the threshhold before he gives his answer the lie, angling a few inches over to see through the half-open bedroom door. Aziraphael, though, only notices because he does the same.

Crowley is stretched out on the bed, one arm dangling bonelessly off the side. But even as they watch, he snorts a little, and pulls his arm back up, scratching his stomach through his shirt.

Raguel's demeanor becomes suddenly urgent. "I should go before he wakes up."

"You should not," Aziraphael says calmly. "Help me put the tea on first, at least; I certainly need some, and Crowley can just about drink it now."

Aziraphael, it's worth remembering, is an angel, and whatever else one might say about him (his penchant for fraternising with the enemy, for one thing), he has long mastered that particular tone which, though mild - even gentle - nevertheless brooks no resistance whatsoever. He turns, and glides off toward the kitchen without waiting for a response.

By the time Raguel joins him a moment later, Aziraphael has already pulled down three mugs.

[identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com 2009-09-02 05:12 am (UTC)(link)
It's still difficult, in more ways than one, to slide away from Crowley. Perhaps it's worse in the cold, lightless pre-dawn which has often been his rare time alone as Prior. It's quiet, of course, allowing for reflection and prayer, time to wish a good morning to the stars as they wink out with the gradual rise of dawn. But the bed is warmer than usual, and Crowley even more so, and the shock of cold air when he wriggles out from under his sheet is intense. But Aziraphael has a plan - a Plan, in fact - and he's not about to be tempted from it, no matter how, well, tempting it is. And no matter how frigid the kitchen seems by comparison.

It's the smell that wakes Crowley, as he rather thought it might, and he can't quite suppress an anxious twist when the demon pads through into the living room, a bewildered look on his face. It only intensifies when his gaze slides down and he sees Crowley's hand pressed to his stomach, the way Crowley never seems to notice it does when... when.

Aziraphael's heart is sinking fast - so it's nearly dizzying when it crashes head-on into a sudden flood of relief; when in the next moment, just before Aziraphael opens his mouth, Crowley's stomach rumbles loudly.

His eyes glitter dangerously when Aziraphael offers to cut the crusts off for him, and the angel has to suppress the urge to haul him up from the sofa right then and there and crush him in his arms. Instead, he simply hands Crowley a plate, the corners of his mouth twitching, and watches as he tentatively picks out the insides from a thick slice of freshly-baked bread.

Emboldened, they slide under the covers together that night, Crowley's eyes wide and luminous in the moonlight. He curls behind Aziraphael as usual, arm wrapped around him as has been their habit since he returned. But with one less layer between them, one less barrier, Aziraphael can feel Crowley's heartbeat more strongly than ever. It's faster than it has been, these past six nights, but Aziraphael doesn't say anything, and it slows soon enough.

He thinks to wake with the dawn again; to have some time to simply lay like this, feet tangled beneath the covers, breathing in sync. What wakes him is Crowley's elbow in his ribs. He opens his eyes to the wrong side of the bedroom, arm stretched out across empty sheets, and the sight of the demon pressed against the wall (hand pressed against his stomach).