Stumbling Vaguely Upwards

Summary: "Unredeemable, that is what I am." But had anyone ever actually asked Her? Could a demon be redeemed?

AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC

Crowley looked at his desk in surprise when his phone started buzzing. Hell never called when a television was nearby and the only person who had his number was Aziraphale, who rarely called. Puzzled, he picked up the phone.

"Um… yes? Hello? Crowley? I can't tell if you've picked up."

"I'm here angel."

"Oh? Yes, well…. I'm afraid I'm going to be gone for a while. Upstairs just contacted me and they need me up in heaven for a jiff."

Crowley frowned, idly spinning the globe on his desk as he gauged how much of Aziraphale's worried tone was the angel being his anxious self and how much of it was true cause for concern. "Are you in trouble angel? Should I be expecting a recall as well?"

"No. No! Nothing like that. Gabriel said the Almighty just wants a word with me."

Crowley eyebrows raised. An angel met with the Almighty maybe once every few millennia. "The Almighty? What is going on Aziraphale?"

"Nothing!" Aziraphale responded hastily. "I just wanted to let you know where I was going so you wouldn't wonder what happened to me."

Crowley's mind started racing furiously. They did tend to lose track of time in heaven and hell. It wouldn't be the first time Crowley or Aziraphale had gone to give a report only to return and find they had been gone for weeks. On one memorable occasion Aziraphale came back from a meeting to find he had been gone a full three months. Aziraphale had never given him warning beforehand though. There had been entire decades where they hadn't seen each other and thought nothing of it.

"Aziraphale, what is…."

Aziraphale cut him off, his tone final. "I will see you when I get back Crowley."

The sharp tone from the normally polite angel gave Crowley pause. "Alright, angel. Have a good visit. Try to not come back singing The Sound of Music."

Instead of responding to the bait, Aziraphale repeated himself quietly. "I will see you afterwards Crowley. I promise."

The dial tone sounded ominously.

AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC

At first, Crowley had fun wreaking havoc as he always did when the angel was away. The mobile phone networks were down so much in the first month that city hall talked about investing in a city-wide wifi network for London. He had cheerfully claimed he had discorporated the angel for bonus points (something he and Aziraphale both frequently did with accidental discorporations) so he was in hell's bad books for now. They moved in a few extra minor demons Aziraphale could have dispatched in a moment. Mostly the imps created irritating disruptions like traffic jams or corrupted a few politicians. They rarely did anything too major for fear of angelic reprisal once Aziraphale returned. Crowley could tolerate the inconvenience of babysitting them and their whining for a few weeks or months until the angel came back.

As the months passed though Crowley started to grow worried. The longer Aziraphale was gone, the more imps Hell sent and the more audacious the ones already on Earth became. Whatever semblance of control he had the first month was entirely gone. Without an angel's check and influence they were running roughshod over humanity. Traffic jams became accidents. A few corrupt politicians became intolerant fanatical movements. Crowley tried to ignore how much more unpleasant the world had gotten, in his head commenting to the absent angel that it wasn't his business and it was heaven's fault for not sending Aziraphale back already. He threw himself into mischief-making, hoping he could convince hell enough was being done without more reinforcements. If taking down Twitter made it harder for some extremists to communicate with their support base, so much the better. At the year mark, he began to fear Aziraphale wasn't ever coming back.

It was nearly two years after that last phone call that Crowley allowed himself to think about the situation long enough to realize it had been too long. He probably would never see the angel again. The resulting crush of terror, anger, and despair overwhelmed him. Over the next hour he tore his flat apart in a fit of rage and grief, leaving most of the furniture splintered kindling and shredded fabric. Laying on the floor with bloody hands hours later, some part deep inside of himself acknowledged things he probably should have clued into long ago.

Hell to the world if Aziraphale isn't coming back he decided. It could burn for all he cared. If Heaven wanted to leave Earth to Hell's mercy, he would give them Hell's mercy. For years he had avoided doing anything that would draw Aziraphale's ire. If Heaven no longer wanted an angel on Earth, they could have a proper demon's reign of terror. For three weeks, he went on a temptation spree that broke his previous soul-corruption records. He arranged the seduction of several would-be saints. He rigged an election that would cause political division in Britain for years. He went to a different club every night and walked away leaving orgies and brawls behind him.

His nihilism culminated one night with getting more blind drunk than he ever had before. In retrospect, going out in Soho had been a poor choice. He couldn't remember breaking into the book shop later but had clearly forgotten to sober up before falling asleep on the spine-contorting couch in the backroom. He woke up choking and retching on vomit, still so drunk and fatigued that it was a wonder he hadn't discorporated himself without waking. It took hours for the all-encompassing headache to subside enough he could miracle away the rest of the alcohol's effects. Blinking at the sight of the back room, he reluctantly admitted he might need to force himself to work through his emotions. Preferably before they got him killed and he had to deal with the paperwork.

With time the anger at Heaven lessened, and with it any desire to do his job. In contrast, his disgust for the suffering caused by his fellow demons grew as they started tempting less and turned to more overt destruction as they too realized the angel was not coming back. He didn't enjoy hearing about the record hospital admissions after one demon contaminated a restaurant chain's lettuce with E.coli or how stabbings were on the rise in London. He blamed the voice inside him yelling in protest on spending too much time with the angel, but it was the same voice that had made him angry at heaven for the flood and made everyone have miraculous escapes and it was all his own. He hated what was happening. He hated it like he hated hell. Crowley watched the tide of blood rise for five years, attempting to ignore the mounting frustration with both heaven and hell.

But something snapped inside Crowley one fine autumn day. The spinning orange leaves of Hyde Park (he never went to Saint James' anymore) had calmed him, but as he exited the park on to Park Lane, he noticed a squat demon leaning against a post box. The imp didn't even bother to look around as it eyed a quarry, a 30-something blonde woman bundled up against the chill breeze pushing a high-end buggy towards Marble Arch. Crowley didn't consciously realize he had followed until the imp tripped the woman when she got too close to the curb. For a stretched-out second, her beribboned buggy and the sleeping infant inside flew towards the street. Crowley began to hear the screeching of tires that would stop the cars too late. Without thought, Crowley's arm shot out towards the child and on instinct he miracled the buggy back to the pavement. As he had once told his angel, you can't kill kids. A panicked half-second later he shoved the other demon in front of a double-decker bus before it could see who had interfered. He looked around hoping for Someone's sake they weren't more of them and almost ran to the Bentley.

That night, for the first time in six millennia, he prayed to Him. "Father, I know I mean nothing to you, but humanity needs Aziraphale." He left off the I need him echoing inside his heart. "They are getting slaughtered and tempted to hell down here. They need an angel. Please. If you won't give them and me Aziraphale back, send someone at least." He sighed and ran a hand through his hair, feeling foolish for trying.

In heaven, Someone smiled.

AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC

It wasn't the last time Crowley interfered. Crowley found himself undoing the damage where he could get away with it. A quick miracle removing a contaminant here, a distraction at the right moment to allow a mugging victim to get away there. Just a little something that made people happen not to die. Death was inelegant, so counterproductive to the goal of corrupting people.

In the depth of a London winter he popped down to Turkey for some sun. He missed the little excited comments Aziraphale used to make when they ventured out of London but overall, this had been a good trip. It was nice to avoid the dreary weather that settled on London like a blanket in January. He dared risk a melancholy mood by wandering through the Grand Bazaar, but not even memories of Aziraphale's gasps of delight when they had last visited some two-hundred years before ruined the experience. Stalls filled with stacks of brightly colored fabrics caught his eye, the scents of various spices tickled his nose, and even the occasional call to prayer echoing through the city added charm instead of the usual feelings of resentment. Somehow the world didn't seem to have gotten so bad with abundant sunshine filtering through the windows into such happy chaos.

As if responding to his thoughts, the stench of sulfur reached his nose. He turned towards the scent to see a demon he didn't know chatting with a gangly teenager dressed too conservatively to blend in with the local kids, before looking around furtively and nodding. The young man looked noticeably nervous as he put down a backpack. Then he and the demon melted into the crowd. Crowley had a nasty suspicion and pushed through the crowd to where they had been. He glanced around before opening the backpack to reveal a rudimentary bomb—pretty much what he had expected. Luckily it was the work of a moment to wave his hand and have the wires, timer, and components disappear. It would be a mystery to the demon and the organization the human was associated with why the bomb didn't go off immediately, giving the bomb squad time to get everyone evacuated after receiving an anonymous tip from an untraceable phone number.

That was the plan anyways before he looked up to see the demon hadn't entirely abandoned the scene and was staring at him. Crowley made eye contact and the demon took off running. With a hiss Crowley pursued, knowing he didn't dare let the other demon report to management. The two demons ducked and weaved among the market stalls, Crowley slowly catching up. He did have an advantage, knowing humans and the bazaar better than the other demon. He was screwed though if the other demon realized there was an exit two streets to his right up ahead. The demon would be able to disappear without notice once he reached the street.

Crowley had nearly caught up when the demon turned right.

"Shit!" He tore after him. The other demon was nearly to the door when Crowley saw a stall selling Zamzam water. Not having much time or many options he leapt, pushing the demon with as much strength as possible towards the stall hoping the water was the real deal. He miracled away the bottles containing the holy water and started rolling himself away as soon as he hit the ground. He stopped when he hit the stall opposite, only then daring to look back in time to see the demon's skin start to boil as his screams begin. In a moment, there was nothing but demonic goo that quickly sizzled into nothing but a puddle of water.

Crowley breathed hard as he pushed himself back up, less because he needed to and more from the rush of adrenaline flooding his body. That had been stupid. How had he not checked the coast was clear first? He was a demon, you didn't do good things without checking they couldn't be traced back to you.

The shopkeeper looked in horror at the soaked stall, absent of all his merchandise. "My Zamzam water! How? Who is going to pay for this?"

"Oh shut up. It is illegal to export Zamzam water from Saudi Arabia anyways, ahbap."

Crowley stood, miracled away the dust, and walked outside. He made the call to the police from a 'borrowed' phone in a daze, hanging up after giving the tip. He could hear sirens in the distance as he walked back to his hotel. He repacked his bags with forced calmness and popped back to London, deciding he was rather done with his holiday.

He paced around the empty London apartment that had become purely for show. Several of his plants had died of fright during his three-week temper tantrum and the rest had died sometime after he quit watering them or yelling at them, so there wasn't much left there. He hadn't bothered to replace the furniture he had wrecked except the bed. A small part of him wished he still had the plants to take his anger out on as he realized how phenomenally stupid he had been being. He was a demon. A demon, damn it. As he had told Aziraphale after the apple business, a demon could get in a lot of trouble for doing the right thing. He had been acting like… like… (an angel one part whispered) a good person! There was no excuse. He was a demon. Irredeemable and damned, that was what he was. He had no business helping the humans when heaven wouldn't. Enough he told himself. Start acting like a demon before trying to be something you're not gets you killed.

He kept the resolution easily for five days. On the sixth, he came across a group of men beating a woman, egged on by a disguised demon. He stared for a moment, fighting with himself, listening to her whimpers and watching as she spat blood after another punch. He forced himself to turn and walk away. As he reached the end of the alley and continued down the street, he heard her screams.

He had planned to do some tempting at a club, but went home after that. A bottle of scotch and some ranting to the absent Aziraphale later, he decided he should sleep for a while. A good long while. Maybe if he managed to sleep away a century again the nightmare would be over by then. He remembered to sober up beforehand this time, and laid down planning on not getting up again for a long while.

A year later he woke up from a nightmare of the woman's screams, his voice hoarse from yelling in response.

AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC

Rules, he decided. If he was going to interfere, he had to have rules. First, no more casually doing things without checking he couldn't be caught. Either he did them while perfectly sure no other were around or he had to come up with a disguise of some kind. Second, he was just balancing the scales a bit for humanity. He wasn't an angel spreading goodwill, only addressing demonic harms. He had no business messing with human free will.

For a being who technically did not have free will, Crowley had always been a fan of it. He always had taken the leave to go up and cause trouble rather differently than it had been intended. Mostly he had fun. But this... this level of destruction wasn't fun or even a bit of trouble. This wasn't giving the humans a choice. It was destroying the Earth and making it a sick parody of hell, with free choice but lacking real options. It was hell's Eden before the apple. He would just address the balance.

And in addressing the balance, he would wear the image of who should be here doing the job he decided. He knew his face and form well enough. He could benefit from the appearance of a flaming sword though.

AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC

For a dozen years, Crowley had found himself drifting through time without marking it. What was the point of knowing another month had passed without it being a measure of how often he could see Aziraphale without suspicion? His awareness faded even more now. There were many things he found himself caring less and less about. He had loved being up to date with human fashion and technology, half to be in a position to tempt people and half to tease Aziraphale about being so old-fashioned. There was no angel to tease or notice anymore though, and he was tempting people less and less these days. His so-carefully crafted image was aging like a photograph taken on the day Aziraphale left.

Maybe that was part of the reason no one noticed when he moved into the bookstore. There wasn't much to move without the plants or furniture. He put in a proper bed since Aziraphale had never used his but kept the rest as the angel had had it. If he happened to talk to Aziraphale in the evening by praying in the hopes he could hear him in heaven, it was just a Thing. In a somewhat desperate attempt to not have to be the one fighting his own side, he occasionally prayed to the Almighty for someone to come save humanity too. He knew it was futile, after all no one ever came, but despite his nature he couldn't help have a little faith He cared still about what was going on. Clearly, Crowley had spent too much time with Aziraphale over the millennia. At least, that's what he told himself.

Despite that, things kept growing worse. One of the cleverer demons caused an economic crash that devastated communities worldwide and combined with the widespread fear as the horrors kept mounting. Crowley could practically choke on the atmosphere of desperation and despair. He had had his fun causing mischief and chaos over the millennia, but he hadn't wanted this. If there had been someone on Earth or Below that had truly known Crowley, maybe it wouldn't have been that surprising that more minor demons found themselves being run over by buses. Rumors of an angel returning to earth started spreading in demonic circles. There hadn't been any public smiting yet, but hospitals found secondary supplies of medicine after demons contaminated their main store. Corrupted leaders were exposed. Scientists had a lucky break on finding the cure for a new blight.

And occasionally, very occasionally, they said an angel appeared to take down demons who were particularly vile. Those demons had just disappeared though, so it remained a rumor.

AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC

Crowley was in a run-down village in West Virgina. He decided to risk disguising himself to get rid of a demon who was a particularly nasty piece of work. Crowley's evaluation of the demon might have been influenced by the fact it had helped a terrorist cell place a bomb in Soho that killed hundreds and would have destroyed the bookstore had Crowley not been home. Since then he had tracked the demon through China, India, and finally to the medical research facility it was trying to destroy here.

Crowley caught the demon unawares as he entered the hospital. The lobby was non-descript, busy with fidgeting loved ones eschewing the faded chairs and hospital staff too tired to give them proper comfort. Still too many people to effectively use the small quantity of holy water Crowley had, so he would have to deal with the demon the old-fashioned way. Crowley waited until the demon passed him lounging in a chair with a magazine, before materializing his sword and swinging at its retreating back. The demon was quicker than most though, dodging the swing and throwing itself behind the reception counter. The lobby erupted into a screaming chaos, as the demon let its misshapen true form show and Crowley gave his sword the appearance of flames. The humans fled as the demons engaged in a pitched battle across the foyer, hurling furniture and using whatever they could get their hands on in addition to sword and claws. Crowley methodically drove him towards the door, though the other demon did fairly well parrying Crowley's sword blows with a thick chair leg. Eventually, Crowley saw an opening and stabbed, leaving a gaping wound in its side. With a growl, the demon fled through the shattered glass doors. Crowley was sure the demon realized he wasn't a proper angel since the sword's 'divine light' hadn't hurt him. He couldn't risk the demon escaping and reporting back. Crowley gave chase through the entryway, passing through just in time to see the demon take to the air.

Miracling the appearance of angelic wings, he followed. By the time the demon checked, Crowley was nearly on him. It barely had time to raise the chair leg to counter Crowley's downstroke. Crowley swung repeatedly until he hacked the chair leg to pieces. In desperation the demon latched onto Crowley's sword until he tore it from his grip. It spun into the air and fell to the ground far below. Refusing to let him get away, Crowley grabbed the demon by the throat, who clawed at him. Unable to stabilize themselves the two occult beings grappled in freefall until they hit of the ground. Both would have been demon jelly if not for miracles.

As it was, the second of trying to recover almost cost Crowley. The demon leaped at him, hands outstretched. Crowley managed to get his legs up to kick him back, using the momentum to get himself back on to his feet. He whipped out a water pistol from the customized waterproof holster he had commissioned for these rare cases and sprayed the demon in the face before it could retaliate. The writhing and screaming figure melted into a puddle of goop. Crowley shuddered and looked at the innocent little water pistol, gingerly putting it back into the holster. It was a terrible way to go and he wouldn't wish it on anyone, even that demon. Before he could get too maudlin picturing his own execution if he was ever caught he heard shouting.

"Angel! Angel!"

He looked across the clearing to see a hundred people staring at him. Their clothes were old and patched, every one of them looked thin and tired. But they were looking at him with more hope than he had seen in years.

"Has God sent you to save us Angel?"

That was when Crowley understood something about faith he probably never had. It is common knowledge that people cannot live without hope…. but faith and hope are bed-fellows, supporting and rejuvenating each other. Crowley could not give them hope, but he might be able to give them faith. Faith could give them the hope they needed to survive as much as the food he saved or the medicine he miracled.

"Yes" he found himself saying and spreading his falsely white wings, "he has. Keep faith in him and goodness in your heart for each other and this too will pass."

Months later, he heard that the town had reformed and was heading towards a complete turn-around. Several demons complained about their incorruptible faith.

Crowley started disguising himself as the angel more after that. It couldn't hurt if humans saw him, right? As long as he tried to avoid fellow demons, they shouldn't be able to trace the angelic appearances back to him.

AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC

The first group that asked him to pray with them almost caused him to drop the disguise in shock. Yes, he was occasionally praying at night but that was mostly a lonely and desperate shout into the void. He tried to keep his voice even when responding.

"I must return to the Father above. Your prayers are better heard directly from your lips."

He caught a second of disappointed and uneasy faces before he miracled away. It was only when he got back that he realized he might have shaken their faith with his refusal as much as he had reaffirmed it with his presence.

Uneasy, he made himself a cup of tea. It had always reassured Aziraphale and he had gotten into the habit of it over the last few years. After several moments of contemplation, he realized what was bothering him the most about the situation. He pulled down the shutters and glanced around before bowing his head in prayer.

"Father, I was asked by a group to pray today. I know I count as nothing in your eyes, but in theirs I was an angel and your representative. Since you have not seen fit to send a proper angel, I am all they have. If this happens again, don't hold it against them please. Don't hold it against them that they asked me to pray with them or if I lead a prayer. Please just count it as a moment of them reaffirming their faith in you."

The second time he was asked to pray with a group a year later it did not surprise him as much. That didn't mean it was easy or that he had quite decided what to do yet. He glanced up towards the heavens, stomach full of nerves and wishing for a sign that he wouldn't damn them. His eyes drifted back down to the crowd to refuse, when a little girl looked up at him from the arms of her mother. Her eyes were too old for such a young face but shining with hope. Crowley made the split-second decision he could have a little faith that the Almighty would be understanding.

"Our Father in heaven" he found himself following his memory of Aziraphale's voice in prayer, unconsciously matching the reverent tone and rhythm. "hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come…."

That town too started to improve, taking care of its poor, orphans, and sick through charity and kindness. His fellow demons grumbled about the angel that had created such incorruptible faith among so many, but never showed himself directly. Until there was an angel standing sentinel officially, the higher ups would not give the order for the imps to return to hell. Crowley's actions often ruined their plans, ruining their fun at best and resulting in punishment at worst. Not to mention all of them were paranoid and tired of looking over their shoulder for the secret angel. Crowley often smirked at their frustration privately over a glass of wine in the bookshop. He resolved himself to try and do enough that they would all get the order to go back to hell. If it meant a never-ending stream of visits to war-torn villages and desperate faces for him, so be it. Then it would all finally be over.

Crowley found himself leading a lot of prayers in a lot of terrible places in the years that followed.

AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC

The reckoning came one fine spring day after years of rising demonic frustration. He was leading a group in prayer when pain slammed into him, more powerful than he had felt in a thousand years, causing him to drop his book and swear in several dead languages. He grasped at his side and felt cold metal. In shock, he looked down to see an infernal blade sunk in his flesh to the hilt, its dark metal marked by rippling folds of black and glinting with an eerie sheen of hellfire. A distant part of his brain noted that it had ruined one of his nicer suits. Screams jolted him from his revere. He looked back at the crowd to see them running away, shouting about a demon. In the center of the room, a squat demon that resembled a small and dirty child but for the glowing red eyes stared at him. Crowley waved his hand to miracle his sword for battle, stopping half way through the motion as the meaning of the black fabric on his arm caught up with him.

If he had been an angel the blade would have killed him — leaving no doubt he was a demon. His concentration had also slipped from the surprise of the attack, causing his allusion to fail. This demon knew exactly who the supposed "angel" was, or could easily find out from downstairs.

Unfortunately, the imp was also smart enough to understand the situation quicker than Crowley. It had already vanished.

With barely a sigh Crowley closed his eyes and miracled himself back to the book shop. It was the work of a moment to heal his corporation and mend the torn clothes. He briefly considered running, but knew it wouldn't do him any good. Nor did he particularly want to if he was honest.

He found himself putting on one of his best suits, the one he had worn for his last dinner with Aziraphale. It was decades out of style, but in impeccable shape and still a perfect fit. The Crowley who had worn it back then would have been delighted that he would still be considered trendy with the retro suit, the style flawless but for the tartan handkerchief he tucked into the breast pocket.

He locked up the store, putting a sigil over the door that would keep any human or demon out, including himself. He didn't kid himself that he would be back. As far as he was concerned the bookstore could stand empty for a hundred years or a thousand or until London itself burnt to the ground. It could stand until the apocalypse and Aziraphale could finally come back to earth, but it would still be there waiting for him. The demons could take Crowley, but they couldn't take the bookstore, the last reminder that an angel and a demon once stood sentinel on earth side by side.

Then he went to St. James. As he walked past, the litter that had started cropping up over the last thirty years magically disappeared without him noticing. He sat on their bench, which mysteriously had never been moved or painted when the rest were. He watched the ducks and wondered once more whether they had ears. He chuckled darkly over the irony that Aziraphale had refused to give him holy water, considering everything that had happened since and what was likely about to happen. He thought of conversations about ineffability. He replayed memories of happier times until they came to take him.

Crowley didn't fight the squad of demons that came to collect him and barely listened to their taunts as they rode the escalator down to hell. On entering, he dispassionately took in the courtroom like it was the set for a TV show. Beezelbub was presiding on a throne of broken bone. Hastur, Dagon, and the other dukes stood to either side of him, prosecutor and jury in one. There was a rather impressive tub filled to the brim with water everyone was staying far away from, so his guess about the execution method had been right after all. Most of hell stood behind the glass pane separating them from the courtroom. Beezelbub and the dukes started speaking but Crowley wasn't paying attention, trying to spend his last moments thinking about happier things like the blue sky above and even bluer eyes.

Hastur's punch to his stomach broke Crowley's concentration. He doubled over, wheezing, but still caught Beezelbub's drawling words. "Any last words, traitor?"

Something sparked inside of Crowley, the last thing he wanted before he went. "Not for you," he said. He bent his head and prayed one last time silently. He heard shouts to throw him in but ignored them.

Lord, for all the prayers of mine you have not heard, please listen to this one. I am sorry I picked the wrong side, now that I've seen a world without your influence. I am having faith that you will take care of humanity after I'm gone. Tell Aziraphale I love him and that he was right about me.

A shove hit his chest like a hammer blow, interrupting his prayer and making him stumble back. He felt the back of his legs hit the tub, felt himself teeter on the edge of oblivion as his knees bent and his body tried to balance. Then the precarious moment was over, terror seized him as his torso fell back into the tub and his legs shot up.

He felt first the coldness of the water, followed by flaming waves of pain as the holiness started to burn his flesh. Just as his skin began to char, the queerest feeling of joy started spreading through him.

It had been a long time, but it suspiciously felt like Grace.

He felt his wings spread out behind him. He heard angry shouts. He saw blue light reaching for white feathers. He felt himself drifting up.

He lost track of things for sometime after that.

AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC

He found himself before the gates of heaven. Unsure how he could have gotten where demons can not tread, he hesitantly approached the gate. It swung open without prompting. He emerged to the top of steps above a plaza he vaguely recognized from long ago. The heavenly host awaited him.

He stared at them in abject terror for a horrible moment before a voice he barely remembered from dreams of his early days echoed out.


The host erupted into applause, the sound of which startled him enough his wings snapped open. He froze upon seeing them.

White. His wings were white.

Panic started rising with the confusion as he followed their outline. That was until a face in the crowd captured his eyes— most likely the only face that could have registered with him in that moment.

"Aziraphale" he whispered, more reverent than any prayer he had ever uttered. "Aziraphale!" he ran for him without conscious thought, confusion and the entire heavenly host forgotten in a blur of frankly unimportant faces as he pushed past them. He had some vague idea they were mostly moving out of his way, but didn't take his gaze from Aziraphale's face.

After years of not seeing him one would think the few moments it took to get to him would be a blink of an eye, but it seemed to take an eternity to reach him. He felt every one of the six thousand years he had been unconsciously running after the angel.

Finally he reached him and threw his arms around him in sheer relief. His brain gibbered about how he could feel Aziraphale, that he was alive and here, before he realized the angel hadn't moved. Then he remembered this wasn't normal. They had rarely ever touched, and even a half-hug only happened if they were sloshed. He could already feel the blush and started to pull back, when he felt a light but firm touch holding him in place. Aziraphale's embrace stayed hesitant for a moment before tightening in a move that made Crowley lose the breath he didn't need.

Crowley head a quiet voice, "It is very good to see you my dear."

That half-whisper sounded more beautiful to Crowley than the choir of the heavenly host. It was the most beautiful thing he had ever heard. Crowley heard underlying notes of Aziraphale's faith in the face of tragedy, his love for all things good, and most importantly hope. Hope for a brighter future, as two angels in Heaven standing side by side.

AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC ~ AC

Author's Note: First, major thanks go to Icarus Isambard who read over this for me and gave me so many good pointers that helped me clean this up and expand it. That being said, it grew even after he read it so any errors or bad writing is probably something I added after he looked at it or I ignored his advice. I can't thank him enough. Also, this being marked as incomplete is accurate. While you are welcome to finish reading here and it works as a one-shot, I will eventually post a second part of this story.