Title: Even As A Demon

Author: fogsrollingin

Fandom: Good Omens

Relationship(s): Aziraphale/Crowley (romantic ace angels? queerplatonic? nothing's explicitly sexual but they're so cuddly)

Story Length: 6k words

Published: 12/24/2023 on fogsrollingin.neocities.org.

Warnings: explicit depictions of torture, sexual abuse

Tags: hurt/comfort, traumatized Crowley, hurt Crowley, protective Aziraphale, miracle blockers, comforting Aziraphale, disorientation, nudity, electrocution, evil cults, Supreme Archangel Aziraphale, Aziraphale to the rescue, angst, crying, hugs & cuddling, happy endings, season 2 spoilers

Summary: Crowley worked so hard to steer away from thinking about Aziraphale and then whenever anything weird or distressing came up, the angel would pop back into his head like he'd never left.

And this definitely qualified as distressing.

Author's Notes: I really enjoyed writing this fic. Thank you to those who participated in my poll on masto abt whether it was plausible for Aziraphale to call Crowley 'sweetheart' 😂

I do intend to post this fic up on AO3, I'm just trying something different. If you read this and liked it, please anonymously scream with me about AziraCrow in my site's chatbox over there on the left. That would make my day because I just implemented it and I don't totally understand how it works yet. OR you could come visit me on masto or tumblr.

Full HTML version below.

Cheers everybody 🥂 happy holidays!

Chapter 1

Before Job, Crowley had thought he'd been alone.

Sure, he'd met the angel of the East gate. He'd seemed kind, empathic; unique traits from an angel. Most of them couldn't get their heads out of their arses. Crowley appreciated it. But Aziraphale had also seemed so steeped in toeing the company line: heaven was a true and righteous home.

Crowley discounted the angel for it. He lived centuries among humans, with only those few run-ins with Aziraphale here and there. He'd never thought of finding a companion. Demons didn't do that in general, far as he could tell.

During the Job debacle, Aziraphale had said his take on hell (that he went along with it as far as he could) sounded lonely. Crowley objected on instinct.

On the heels of that, Crowley couldn't believe the sheer joy and smug satisfaction (he was a demon after all; he was allowed) of having Aziraphale join him. Crafty subterfuge to their respective home offices to save a few kids, going along with heaven and hell as far as they could...

He was lonely no longer.

He had a friend now. Kind of.

Over time, the term "friend" became real. It took up space in Crowley's thoughts. He found himself looking forward to seeing the angel next, to bantering and trading blessings, and sins and miracles.

Whenever Crowley appeared, Aziraphale smiled.

At some point, they became something else entirely.

It was the way Aziraphale called him for the slightest reasons, the way he looked at Crowley, eyes glittering, dimples deep and lips pressed like he was trying not to be as happy as he was.

It was the quality of their conversation over tea, wine, breakfast, inside or outside, it didn't matter. They went everywhere and Aziraphale was as adaptable as Crowley, maybe more so because Crowley tended to dismiss or ignore other people except when he could tell them off. He enjoyed focusing on the angel, watching his reactions, listening to his voice.

Crowley hadn't fully realized until Maggie and Nina sat him down. Love. Eugh. He really was the worst demon.

And now it'd been years since he'd last seen his- no- the angel. Since Aziraphale had been promoted to Supreme Archangel.

It had been tough but not impossible to carry on. He'd kept himself busy. The humans were still coming up with evil things he wouldn't have thought of. He kept implementing genius little ways to make all their lives worse on the whole. He still didn't report to anyone. He just worked out of habit; made him feel more like himself.

It wasn't much.

With hell ignoring him and Aziraphale having left him, he had no one to talk to even if he'd pulled off the greatest caper since Jane Austen's.

Crowley drifted.

It wasn't bad. It wasn't good.

Crowley learned to numb himself to how hollow life had become for him.

Only now, now, of all times, of course he was thinking about it.

He missed the Ritz, the bookshop. He missed hearing his phone ring and the giddy anticipation, knowing it was his angel calling for one reason or another, always worth a laugh, an interesting conversation, an adventure.

Crowley hated how much he missed Aziraphale's voice. The angel could find delight in so many things, and Crowley loved no less or deeply than he had as an angel: he matched the heavenly creature every step of the way, feigning surly reluctance. Aziraphale could always see through it.

Crowley adored the universe, humans, the changing times and fashions. Things didn't "get old" for him and he had fun with every minute of it. And he'd found Aziraphale, who in his own way, felt the same but about food and books and romance...

Aziraphale's eyes were so bright when he'd dragged Crowley out to dance with him that night. Even Crowley had to admit there was something special in it. He'd been stressed - he'd been the only one to know there were demon hordes outside waiting to lay siege to the bookshop - but still. Nice.

Disgusting four-letter word.

Crowley licked his dry, cracked red lips, thinking of that night.

I won't leave you here.

I know you won't.

Crowley bit his bottom lip to stave away the tears.

Why did he always think of Aziraphale when he was in trouble?

Crowley worked so hard to steer himself away from thinking of him during his regular empty days walking the Earth alone now, but when anything weird or distressing came up, the angel would pop back into his head like he'd never left.

And this definitely qualified as distressing.

Crowley was strapped to a rusty metal bed frame. It was angled like he was Frankenstein's monster, or Hannibal Lecter (although he was spared any kind of mask which he was grateful for). The frame was clamped to a car battery, and whenever he snarked, or whenever these brutal half-witted humans felt like it, he'd be reminded again that someone - either Down or Up There - had issued a miracle blocker, and his corporation would convulse like a human's would as the electricity sang pain through every cell of his body.

For someone who, as a matter of furious anger, could fry from lightning and easily walk away from it, the agony was... Crowley tried to keep it together as he chose the words inside his head.

The agony was unexpected.

Choosing words in his head was all he had. His voice had long since given out, his screams more like gutteral chokes and gurgles. The last thing he'd been able to rasp out was several days ago, to Marcus, the sadist among this cadre of humans that had trapped him. "Y-you know, you're a loads better demon than I am." With blood on his teeth twisted into a grin, he added, "Hell's gonna love you."

Marcus was the one that had cut Crowley's clothes off when they first captured him (and with the miracle blocker, Crowley couldn't even make an effort to add reproductive organs, making him look far more inhuman; a creature, a monster on the slab).

Marcus was the one that liked to watch his face during the electrocutions as his body spasmed, vibrating under the loud hum of it, jaw clenched, muscles taut and straining. He'd be riveted when it was over too, the aftershock tremors, Crowley's involuntary gasping cries as he gulped in air with rattling lungs.

The cult (it had to be a cult, right? Must be, Crowley thought) had used archaic magicks only other angels or demons from the Great War could've known.

Crowley didn't really know what to do with that information. It was difficult to string a coherent path in his head at all, much less to a conclusion. The electrocutions were scattering him, when they weren't whiting his brain out altogether.

He always came back to Aziraphale, though. Just repeating his name in his head, recalling his face, replaying the best memories. It helped. It was comfort.

At first, when he'd been abducted (summoned to a circle surrounded by holy oil and these... clowns in robes that smelled like motor oil), Crowley had done his best to live up to his reputation. He ran his mouth off, mocked, challenged. It would be a boon to become known as the most annoying demon to exist even in captivity.

Unfortunately Marcus didn't respond to his barbs. Crowley wasn't even sure what language he spoke - he tried all of them and the wanker gave nothing away. The only reaction he got out of him was through no choice of his own. Marcus's dark pupils dilated with sick arousal for what would surely be another fun, raucous round of torture-the-naked-demon-in-the-basement.

Yes, he had that look on him now. Crowley kept his scowl of disgust fixed even as his torturer bent down and began to trace his fingers through the mix of blood, sweat, oil and dirt coating his skin, starting at his foot.

Crowley cringed; did his best not to shiver at the human's touch. His last words to the man had been a hundred percent true. In fact, Hell was probably going to take lessons from him when the time came for him to die. Hopefully a slow, painful one at Crowley's hands.

Marcus dragged fingers up Crowley's leg, up near his groin. The demon's corporation released adrenaline, making his breath come fast and shallow. His heart wasn't doing well under the stress and electrocutions, skipping beats and missing rhythms. A sheen of sick sweat developed over him despite the cold, freezing him more.

Marcus smiled, pleased, and dragged the pads of his fingers across the smooth, delicate skin between his legs, pushing and prodding as though with enough fondling, he'd get somewhere. Crowley squirmed and gasped under Marcus's rough hand. The bed frame wobbled and shook.

Finally, Marcus left the area red and oversensitive with an interior grin that left Crowley even more nauseous.

He wasn't done, though. Marcus moved his palms up and down Crowley's soft, vulnerable stomach, squeezing, kneading, digging into the center with his thumbs and pulling involuntary whimpers out of the demon.

Crowley's breath was ragged by the time Marcus slipped his hand around his neck.

"N-no," Crowley barely whispered, panting, knowing what came next. Marcus had done this before.

"Stop," Crowley didn't quite beg. Marcus watched, rapt, as he tightened his grip, glacially slow, to wring out every moment of Crowley's strangulation.

Crowley jerked and hissed, baring his fangs, his black-slitted eyes wide and gleaming bright gold under fluorescent light.

The sound was choked out of him in short order. Marcus's expression was crazed delight as Crowley struggled to stay conscious, his body straining to escape.

Black and white specks dotted his vision and clouded everything with static. Sounds echoed and muted.

Then Crowley's body went weightless.

He floated.

Aziraphale. That time when Crowley said he'd miracle Hamlet into popularity, when he'd said he could always count on him, when they'd touched hands dancing. Aziraphale's worn velvet waistcoat, his white blonde curls, those silly glasses he didn't need. The way he ate, the way he smiled so fondly. Those smiles were his forever. It didn't matter Aziraphale didn't want him anymore. Those smiles were real, and they had only been for Crowley, and there was nothing so precious to him as those memories, even now.

His imagination melted to darkness, streams of black paint dripping over the reels and snapshots of the past.

At this point, Crowley always wondered with a mild curiosity (and some unspeakable measure of hope) if this could mean he was dying.

He didn't want to. This was a bad way to go out, a demon captured and tortured by a regular sadistic human, maybe a serial killer if he was lucky. But really: not practiced clergy from the Vatican or anything. What a disgrace.

But on the whole, he wasn't particularly against dying. The past four years he didn't know what he was even supposed to be doing from one day to the next, and whatever he did, it didn't feel like anything mattered much. He'd lost the only person he loved years ago, and surviving that made him realize how much of a double-act he was.

He wasn't a main character, and he'd lost his foil. The torture was getting to him, he knew. Not existing anymore sounded fine.

A gunshot, loud and close, rang out.

The explosive concussion shocked awareness back into him. He could breathe again. Marcus's hands were off him.

The sadistic bastard stumbled backwards, breathing labored and clutching his chest, eyes wide, mouth agape as he hit the concrete wall. Red blossomed on his shirt, spreading rapidly.

He crumpled to the floor, clutching the gunshot wound, breaths coming in quick now. He didn't have long.

Crowley blinked, not quite believing it, his vision like smudged glass thick with oil. His ears were going too, ringing so loud he couldn't hear. He had to focus on breathing, getting air into his corporation's lungs.

"Crowley," a voice, soft with horror, whispered behind him.

The demon froze at the voice. His heart in his throat, he stopped breathing. It couldn't be.


A sharp gasp, and then a cold wind chilling Crowley to the bone swept through the space.

Silence. Crowley could sense there was no one in the room now, not even behind him. He glanced at Marcus on the floor. Definitely dead now.

I keep a Derringer in a hollowed-out book.

Fuck off, memories.

...had that been Aziraphale!?

Crowley tried not to let out the sob building in the back of his throat. He squeezed his eyes shut and breathed.

The seconds ticked by. They turned into minutes.

Had he been hallucinating?

For fucking sakes. He huffed, and blinked. Focus, Crowley scolded himself, stifling the desperate hope. He would never see Aziraphale again, not for the rest of eternity.

Shuffling sounds echoed distantly, then louder shouts and more gunshots filtered through.

With a jolt, Crowley realized the rest of the cult members were likely defending themselves against whatever force had come in to kill Marcus. Hoping it was Aziraphale was a hallucination, and thinking the trespassers would take one look at him and decide to let him free was equally bonkers. It was worth it to escape right now.

The straps dug into him, tight and unrelenting. He was weak too, muscles sore and twitching. He let out a frustrated cry and focused on the strap over his wrist, using the sweat and grease coating his skin to loosen it. Crowley stopped to catch his breath. It didn't seem to be working. Maybe if he broke a bone or two. It'd hurt like hell but it'd be worth it.

"Shh, stop," said a voice deep and low, right next to him, scaring the shit out of him.

"No!" The demon cried out as a hand covered the one he was about to break.

Panicked, Crowley looked up to find his angel's soft blue eyes.

"It's me, Crowley. Sweetheart, it's okay, it's me."

Crowley heaved and choked on his own breath, tears falling, as Aziraphale stroked his hair, wiped his cheeks.

"I'm getting you out of here," he promised. He took his cream-colored coat off and covered the demon, careful to tuck the collar over Crowley's bony shoulders.

The coat's scent overwhelmed him: books and parchment, cinnamon tea, buttery shortbread, Aziraphale's cologne that recalled warm sunshine.

"N-no. Th-there's no way."

Crowley looked into distraught blue eyes, wet with tears. Gentle, trembling hands pushed Crowley's hair off his face, cupped his cheek.

He didn't say anything.

There were no words.

Crowley pressed his lips together, clenched his jaw. His chest hurt. He couldn't swallow; he could barely breathe.

"Um... so, Miracles are blocked in here," Aziraphale said, looking around, rubbing Crowley's chest soothingly through the coat. "We're - my team - is in the middle of rectifying that. I'm going to take these off but we can't go until that's done."

Crowley nodded along, not fully understanding. With a squeeze to his arm, Aziraphale pulled away and began removing the bindings starting at Crowley's feet.

The demon squirmed under the straps around his ankles and just above his knees. There were bands across his waist, shoulders, wrists as well.

"Where are we?"

"Somewhere in Missouri, USA, I believe."

"Ughk," Crowley grunted.

"I agree," undertoned in a petty way and Crowley couldn't laugh and cry at the same time but it was some approximation of it.

The angel unfastened the rest of the straps. Crowley moved restlessly against them as each bond released.

Aziraphale finished by Crowley's side. "There we go."

"Aziraphale," Crowley whispered.

They moved as one, Crowley blindly reaching with a choked-off sob as Aziraphale got his hands under his arms. Aziraphale raised a knee to the slanted metal frame and pushed it parallel to the floor. He sat on it and pulled Crowley into his lap. In the process, Aziraphale's coat snagged on a wire, leaving Crowley nude again but the demon couldn't have cared less. Aziraphale wrapped him in such an embrace, he felt covered all the same.

It was Crowley's clammy cold, greasy skin against Aziraphale's soft, plush clothes now, the warmth of his body slipping through and heating him. Crowley would've been scared to stain it - his whole body a mess of oily dirt and sweat - but Aziraphale was pressing him into the hug, hands against his bare back, his neck, the crown of his head. They were everywhere, petting, stroking, rubbing feeling into his limbs.

Crowley's body quaked with tremors. He had never been touched like this. Not in the days he'd been tortured, the four years he'd been living without Aziraphale, the past six thousand years on earth.

"It's over." Aziraphale kissed Crowley's cheek, his neck. "It's all over."

Crowley cried. He let a real sob out when Aziraphale kissed him, then another, and clutched onto his angel.

Aziraphale tucked him back into a full hug. He rocked them. Every touch and gentle stroke and whispered reassurance shattered and healed Crowley at once.

Chapter 2

"Another garrison of angels are coming in to disable the miracle blocker," Aziraphale explained quietly.

By now Crowley had relaxed somewhat. Still limp, shivering from shock. Aziraphale had retrieved his coat from the floor and wrapped it around Crowley for another layer of warmth.

The angel stroked his hair, hugged him closer. "And then we'll be on our way."

"Where?" Eyes wide, Crowley weakly clawed the angel's velvet waistcoat.

Aziraphale hefted him up and closer, re-wrapped his arms around him. Crowley shivered and melted into it.

"We'll go to the bookshop."

"We'll be found."

"Ah," Aziraphale looked into the demon's eyes, "but we won't be hiding."

Crowley made a face.

"I am still the supreme archangel, Crowley," he said, falsely indignant.

"What?" Crowley reared back. "What are you doing?" He pushed away from the angel. "You can't be seen with me."

"Oh-Crowley, no, stop, it's okay," Aziraphale handled the demon carefully but held on.

"Go back to heaven. You have to." Crowley didn't know where this was coming from. He just knew that he'd put it all on the line once, and Aziraphale had rejected him, and now he had to be on Earth, and Aziraphale had to stay in heaven. They couldn't meet again.

"You don't understand. We can't be together," Crowley yelled, but realized he was crying.


"We can't. You said. You left to be an archangel for eternity, and you can't do what you do, and be seen with me, at the same time. So that was that. We are done for eternity."

The angel's eyes welled up with tears, his throat working, his gaze on Crowley so hopelessly pleading. "But you need help. And I want to go to the bookshop with you." His breath caught and a tear slipped free, trailed down his cheek. "Things have changed," he whispered.

Hearing Aziraphale's small plaintive voice had the demon shaking apart, his own tears breaking though.

The angel pushed his hand into Crowley's and steeled himself with a deep breath. "First-First order of business," Aziraphale struggled to get on track, "we need to get out of here. You need to heal. Then we'll talk." Aziraphale stared into Crowley's eyes, sincere to the core. "And no matter what we choose, it'll be alright, Crowley. I promise."

They both startled at footsteps suddenly clacking around them.

"It's done," someone said.

Aziraphale pulled his hand out of Crowley's.

A sharp snap of the supreme archangel's fingers, and they vanished.

Crowley found himself standing alone, weak as a garter snake in Aziraphale's bookshop. His body had been miracled clean. He was even wearing clothes. The outfit was a thoughtful touch. They were his colors - an ombre of dark crimson red on soft cotton joggers - that rose up to black on a matching sweater with an asymmetrical hemline that reached his knees. They reminded him of the draping togas of Rome.

I've never had oysters

Oh well let me tempt you!

Crowley still wasn't healed. Like all demons, Crowley's infernal essence would burn under the healing touch of an angel.

He swayed dangerously on his feet, put his arms out for something to support him and found nothing.

Planning to gracefully kneel, his head throbbed as he bent. His knees buckled and he collapsed with a faint cry.

"Aziraphale," he gritted out, looking around. His nails dragged across the floorboards. "Where the bloody hell are you!?"

The old grandfather clock pendulum swung from side to side. Crowley gnashed his teeth and squeezed his eyes shut, trying not to panic.

A car honked outside, a musician busker hit an errant sharp chord before playing a song, a song, a song...

That certain night

The night we met

Crowley growled. "Play a different song!" He roared.

Crowley's chest heaved. He pressed a hand to it, his corporation's heart beating heavy and fast, skipping beats every once in a while for these fun, unpredictable surges of fear.

A phantom hand slid itself around Crowley's neck.

The angel appeared then - silent, between blinks of an eye - but it was just in time. The sight of the angel snapped Crowley away from immersing entirely into a flashback.

Aziraphale turned, scanning the room with wide, worried eyes.

"'zir'phale," Crowley slurred from the floor.

"Crowley," Aziraphale breathed as he moved towards him, hands outstretched.

A burst of holy light cracked and seared through the air, burning. Crowley cried out in surprise and took cover, cowering under the elysian heat.

The light dimmed. Crowley peered up to find Aziraphale, arms and wings outstretched around him to block the worst of it.

Aziraphale was furious. He closed his wings and rounded on the angels that had arrived. "Do that again in my bookshop and you'll be banished from entering ever again."

"Aziraphale, don't be so dramatic," Michael replied.

"Yes, you're overreacting," Uriel agreed.

Michael, Uriel, and Sandalphon stood side by side, haughty and nettled as they always were.

Aziraphale ignored them, turning his back on them to kneel and snatch Crowley up, into an embrace. The demon wheezed, taken aback, not expecting the angel's rougher handling. Aziraphale was stressed, his hold more protective than tender, strapping Crowley against him as though they'd be torn apart.

A dropping sensation, abject fear overcame him at the thought, and the demon let Aziraphale hold him.

Aziraphale turned them again so he faced the angels. It put Crowley's back to them. The demon trembled, afraid but far too gone to do anything more than huddle into Aziraphale about it.

The angel noticed Crowley's sudden acquiescence and tucked the demon in closer to his body. Crowley pressed his face into the angel's shoulder and held on, bracing to endure whatever happened next.

"We knew you'd gone native, as it were. Picked up some disgusting, repellent habits, Aziraphale, but this?" Sandalphon whined, nasal and simpering.

"He's mine," Aziraphale stated, his voice low and dangerous. Crowley shuddered at Aziraphale's claim over him, his heart seizing and tears brimming over. "Metatron granted him to me years ago."

"As an angel, Aziraphale!" Uriel's eyes gleamed with anger. "Not as... that."

"It was conditional," Michael agreed.

"Whether an angel or demon, it makes no difference if our adversaries find him and he is not protected. I shall always come to his aid regardless."

Crowley froze in the angel's arms as he absorbed the meaning of their conversation. His torture had somehow, by some machination, been an attempt to get to Aziraphale by his enemies?

Somewhere in his muddied mind, he remembered - he'd known there was either a demon or angel from the Great War that had led the humans to him, guided them on how to capture him.

Wait, had Marcus been a demon?

No. He'd watched Marcus die on the floor.

Crowley huffed, fisted his hands against Aziraphale's back. He couldn't think.

"So Crowley, even as a demon," Michael spat with disgust, "serves as effective bait for you?" Their eyes flashed. Aziraphale swallowed and hugged Crowley closer. It had come to this; a demon the weakness of heaven’s supreme archangel.

Aziraphale pressed his cheek to Crowley's hair, clean and soft now, a brilliant red like the sunset. He felt the creature coiled around him, could smell him - pre-storm ozone, chocolate, all tinged with a smoky tang that he loved.

No one trusted him like Crowley. He'd never felt safer or more loved than with Crowley. It didn't matter he was a demon. He should've known this four years ago.

A tear slipped and rolled down Aziraphale's cheek. God, but he'd missed his demon so, so much.

"Really, Aziraphale, whose fault is all this?" Michael asked snidely.

"There is no flaw or wrong at present to find anyone at fault here." Aziraphale's voice was a quiet threat. Not heaven's divine wrath, no playacting the righteous wrath of God. It was Aziraphale's own darkness rising to the fore.

Crowley shifted under him, unconsciously responding to it, reaching for him. Aziraphale lifted his chin, let the demon nuzzle closer against his neck. He put his hand to the back of Crowley's head.

It was intimate, it was so intimate and it was still in front of the angels. Crowley wasn't one for self-consciousness but even he felt like this blasphemy could make an angel fall.

Dauntless, Aziraphale's fingers slid through Crowley's scarlet hair, petting him gently.

Crowley shuddered, overwhelmed, and rolled into the touch.

"To avoid anything like this happening again, demon or angel, he is heaven's - he is mine - to protect now."

Crowley clutched onto Aziraphale, breaking into tears as quietly as possible.

Aziraphale hefted the demon up against him, adjusting him so he could better hold him.

Sandalphon rolled his eyes.

"Do I make myself clear!?" Aziraphale's voice boomed through the bookshop, reverberating against every wall.

"I don't like this." Michael practically stomped their feet.

"So sorry for you, my dear. Now, you have all overstayed your welcome, which I didn't even extend to you in the first place.

Before you leave, as Supreme Archangel I am issuing an official amnesty period of 7 days, starting now, to any angel that may have information about the cult we just infiltrated."

"Don't be daft. No angel would have been involved in that."

"Do as I say. Spread the word in heaven," he replied evenly.

"Yes, sir," Michael strained, the vein in their forehead clearly visible.

"Very good. I have a demon to tend to. Please take your leave."

Aziraphale turned his head to focus entirely on the demon in his arms. One arm across the demon's back, the other buried in his hair, as Crowley quietly wept over his shoulder.

He whispered something, and kissed him. It was gentle, chaste kiss along his hairline, on the snake imprint.

Crowley let out a shocked whimper just as the angels groaned with revulsion. "This is foul," Sandalphon snarled.

"Get out," Aziraphale shot back at them.

Michael bristled. With meaningful looks and sharp nods to one another, they vanished in a blink.

The bookshop was quiet, only the sounds of Aziraphale and Crowley, their breathing stressed and shallow.

Crowley was overwhelmed and disoriented. He couldn't get anything lined up in his head. It had been four years since Aziraphale left Crowley. Four years of missing his voice, his scent, his stupid face animated by empathy, delight, love. Nearly four years of scraping by after having put everything on the line with his... speech, and that kiss in this bookshop, and getting soundly rejected and abandoned by the angel.

I don't think you understand what I'm offering you.

You idiot, we could've been us.

That kiss, that bloody kiss. At one point Aziraphale had lost some tension, he'd put his palm on Crowley's back. Not to push away but to press into him, a soft stroke to his shoulder, and for a split second, Crowley had thought he had his angel back.

I forgive you.

Crowley should be raging, even just at the memories. The way Aziraphale had allowed that celestial superiority complex to poison him. Six thousand years they'd been together, or, or whatever they were. All forsaken for heaven's grand... supreme... slam dunk... angel. Which the git still was.

Crowley was livid. He was also hurting, trembling from shock and injury, and also... Had he just witnessed Aziraphale facing the (formerly?) most powerful angels in heaven in a standoff, the entire point of which was to lay claim on him, a demon, to protect him?

Was this fucking Opposite Day?

Crowley could barely keep the threads together. Not much made sense except how Aziraphale smelled like rich vanilla, cardamom with spicy hints of ginger and pepper.

The angel had never held him before. It was soft, his touch gentle and soothing as anything.

Crowley wanted to get things straight, to hold the angel accountable for what he'd done. Crowley wanted to fight. Instead he scrabbled and gripped Aziraphale roughly, wrapped himself entirely around the angel.  

His throat closed up, his eyes stung, his body shuddered under the wracking sobs he couldn't hold in any longer.

"I know. I'm sorry," Aziraphale's voice cracked and Crowley realized the angel was crying too. "I love you, Crowley. I love you so much."

Aziraphale rubbed his back, strong fingers gliding along the tense muscles, smoothing knots, suffusing warmth. It was like sinking into a hot bath.

Aziraphale rocked them, just the slightest to and fro motion. It didn't seem conscious, just instinct for a slow, relaxing rhythm. It helped Crowley think.

They were out of the basement he'd been held captive and tortured within, the basement that'd held the miracle blocker.

Crowley started when he realized he could literally heal himself now.

With a delicate wave of his hand, he miracled his body healed and unblemished.

A deep breath of relief. No stinging, infected cuts, bruises, or blood. His heart was strong and pumping steadily now, not strained or skipping beats. Crowley swallowed.

He wasn't sure about the newfound mental clarity and razor sharp recollection.

He'd been zapped so many times under the eyes of several undeserving humans, one pair of eyes in particular, dilated in sadistic pleasure. Crowley squeezed his eyes shut, tried to blow the image away like dust, but the eyes emerged again, dark and smiling, promising pain.

Crowley let out a huff of frustration as he came to understand he couldn't heal his mind or memories. The psychological trauma would be staying. Great. Bloody serial killers.

Aziraphale couldn't read minds, Crowley knew, but empathy honed through millennia on Earth, had him giving every decent psychic a run for their money. Crowley had forgotten how sensitive the angel was. How he could pick up on what people, even Crowley - especially Crowley - needed to hear.

"It's over, Crowley. You're safe. It'll be alright. You just need some time to… to recover."

"Please. I'm borne of hell, angel. This is... This is nothing." His voice cracked through the lie.

Aziraphale took a deep breath and leaned away so he could look Crowley in the eyes. Crowley wished he wouldn't. Crystal blue pierced golden yellow, and Crowley couldn't hide the raw fear in them.

The most intrusive thoughts of betrayal slid into him unbidden. Aziraphale would remember what he was, a demon, a monster, a foul poisonous snake. He would follow Crowley's lead and agree his pain was nothing. He'd come to his senses. He would leave Crowley. Again.

"You're not borne of hell. You're borne of heaven." The angel's voice was brittle but he said the words simply, as a matter of fact. "My dear, we all were."

He gazed into Crowley's slitted eyes as he said it, the love he felt for Crowley practically singing through it. Crowley's eyes watered, his chin wobbled. He bit his lip.

Aziraphale didn't falter and Crowley slowly learned to breathe again under his angel's searching gaze.

He huffed. "Okay," he said quietly. He rubbed his face, his eyes. "Okay. Let me up, angel."

Aziraphale carefully lifted Crowley up and the demon hated how much he wanted to just stay cradled in the angel's arms.

Crowley was sick of feeling vulnerable though. He slid a few feet away on the floor. His favorite sunglasses appeared in his hand, a demonic miracle traveling into the Bentley's glove compartment and oh, his Bentley! He couldn't wait to drive again.

He put the glasses on with a deep sigh of relief. He refused to acknowledge Aziraphale's sad little look about it.

He pulled at the soft fabric Aziraphale had miracled up for him. He decided he would keep them on. They... weren't horrible.

"I..." Aziraphale paused when Crowley looked up at him sharply, his trademark frown back, his eyes cloaked. The angel paused not out of fear, but just the sight of him now was a reflection of the memories of him he'd been holding onto for years. The urge to reach for him, touch him, apologize over and over again for so, so many things. "I realize we have to talk."

Crowley grimaced dramatically and looked at the exit of the bookshop. He considered making a run for it.

Instead, the angel made a statement that answered what would've been Crowley's top question.

"After we separated, I thought my distance would protect you."

Crowley flinched. He backed up further and crawled into the red velvet love seat.

Aziraphale lifted himself up too - just on a stair; still a level lower than Crowley - and leaned against one of the entryway pillars. He clasped his hands tight, staying the urge to reach for Crowley, to touch him.

"I downplayed our... partnership. I lied often when it came to you. Given my new station, I couldn't have our enemies discovering you."

"I thought you needed me," Crowley countered bitterly.

"I did. I've needed you for," Aziraphale blinked glistening eyes as he looked around the shop, remembering, "all these years. Not a decision has gone by that I wasn't-" Aziraphale's voice broke and he paused. A tear slipped down his check. "Well..." He sniffed and looked up, blinking. "I've missed you."

Crowley looked away and nodded, wiping his own face. As though in retaliation, Crowley took a deep breath and said, "I'll never be an angel." It was a quiet, vicious promise. "And I'm not yours, I'm not your demon."

It hung in the air. It dared Aziraphale to argue.

Instead, the angel remained quiet; still.

A car honked in the distance. Muffled laughter and music rang out from the French restaurant across the street. A light rain pattered against the window panes.

"It's tea time," Aziraphale said. He sniffed, rubbed his face and closed his pocket watch. He left the room to make tea, to let Crowley leave without saying goodbye if he wanted to.

Instead, Crowley sunk exhausted into the loveseat.

When Aziraphale came back out with tea for the two of them, he took a second to breathe, relieved beyond anything. Crowley was still there. He set the cups down on the table, clattering them.

Crowley opened his eyes when he heard, tracked the angel as he moved and fussed until he couldn't take it anymore. "Angel, sit down." He gestured to the edge of the loveseat.

He wasn't sure which of them did it, but the red loveseat for two had become more of a sofa by this point with certainly enough space for the angel to perch on the edge. Crowley would daresay the angel could lie down with him too if he had a mind for it.

Aziraphale sat primly beside Crowley. He cleared his throat and shot him a furtive glance. "I'm moving back to Earth."


Aziraphale shrugged. "I'm flexible on exactly where."

"What about heaven? Don't they need you?"

Aziraphale pressed his lips together and shrugged. "Their next grandest plans aren't going to move for another 300 years or so."

Crowley blinked. That was a good chunk of time for things.

"I've been... making arrangements. That would let me stay down on Earth most of the time. I was wondering, um... if you'd join me?"

Crowley tilted his head, intrigued. "Where?"

Aziraphale huffed, amused exasperation. "I don't really care."

"What were those arrangements, then?"


"I'm just trying to get the shape of things, angel."

Aziraphale laughed, tears in his eyes and Crowley took pity on him, took his hand and squeezed.

Steadier with the connection, Aziraphale took a breath and explained. "It could be here, the bookshop. I also found a spot, um, a cottage in South Downs that I thought you might like. It could be anywhere else. It could be all these places, or just a few. Point is..." Aziraphale swallowed and gazed sincerely into Crowley's gorgeous, golden eyes. "It'd be with you."

Crowley sighed, looking at the ceiling, the walls, anywhere but the painfully sincere angel. He moved Aziraphale's hand to press it to his heart, though.

Crowley swallowed, nervous. "What about your duties in heaven?"

"Meetings that could've been a quick celestial harmony. The illusion of making decisions together," Aziraphale confessed with disdain. "I'll still attend. But when it's over, when I come home, it'll be to Earth." He paused, licked his lips, eyes wide. "To-to you, my dear. If you'll stay with me."

Crowley frowned and knocked the angel's hand to his chest a couple times. He leaned forward and it tugged Aziraphale closer.

Worried, tears welling up, Aziraphale added. "Or- or if you'd let me stay with you. If you'd rather. Mayfair. It's lovely," Aziraphale's voice cracked as he begged, tears slipping down his cheeks.

"No," Crowley sighed, leaning back and letting the angel see him again. "It'll be the bookshop." Crowley gave the slightest smile.

Aziraphale lit up and clapped his hands together before reaching for the demon, who batted his overtures away. "Stop it with this. I can't do cuddles, it's unbecoming of a demon!"

Aziraphale laughed as he backed off. "Oh you love them. You're a terrible demon."

Crowley smirked. "I think wine might be more in order right now than tea, angel."

At the prompt, Aziraphale shot to his feet. "Or champagne!" He rushed out and left Crowley where he was.

In the quiet, Crowley breathed, deep and measured inhales and exhales.

Deliberate and precise, he took his glasses off and placed them on the tea table.

The End