Pain. Again, with the pain. Or was it always, now?
No, this pain is different. It’s not THAT pain. [which never went away but is buried very, very deep]. Crowley tried to take stock of the pain, tried to categorize it.
Okay, strips of fire weaving around my arms. Sounds like consecrated rope. Angels. Heaven. FUCK!
Wings. Wings are out and stretched and pinned to something? Can’t move. Kneeling on hard [hot!] floor, arms tied behind my back. Okay, they’re making an example of me up in heaven somewhere. Shit. Still alive, though, that’s a plus.
Slowly the dizziness and fog in his brain began to recede. He heard voices, and thought he recognized one particularly irate angel. He lifted his head to look, but found his neck chained and manacled to the floor in front of him. Oh, THAT’s not good. Neck stretched and ready for the sword. Bastards knew they couldn’t take me in a fair fight.
Crowley found that if he bent even closer to the [hot, burning, consecrated] floor, he could angle his head up slightly, just enough to see his angel being held from behind by two others, while arguing with Gabriel. The slight movement was just enough to call attention to himself, and both Aziraphale and Gabriel turned to look at him.
Aziraphale and Crowley locked eyes, with fury / fear / love in blue eyes meeting pain / love / trust in golden ones. Before either could speak, Gabriel’s voice rang out, “Oh, good, you’re awake. Say goodbye, Aziraphale!” He snapped his fingers.
In that moment, a large font of holy water appeared above the trapped demon, tilting to empty its contents. Aziraphale’s eyes nearly popped out of his head as he fought with the angels holding him, his desperate scream of “NOOO!!” reverberating throughout the halls of heaven. Blue eyes and gold stared into each other with terror, resignation, and love. Neither one could stand to watch the other suffer through this, but neither one could look away from their final moment together.
Aziraphale collapsed onto the floor, crying huge, gasping, heart-wrenching sobs. The angels guarding him hardly noticed in their shock at the proceedings. Alone! My heart, the love of my entire eternal existence, gone forever! This must be how he felt in the bookshop fire. I’ll have to be more understanding later. But there will be no ‘later’, HE’S GONE!! Gone …
Crowley was quaking with terror, waiting for the burning to start in earnest. He felt the first drops of water and began hyperventilating in sheer panic. But the burning never happened, even though he was drenched. He blinked. He blinked again. Nothing! It didn’t work! I’m still here, how did that happen?!?
He looked over to Aziraphale sobbing on the floor in front of him. “Aziraphale. Aziraphale!”
Aziraphale sobbed all the harder. I can still hear his voice. I couldn’t save him after all the times he’s saved me. I failed him! Oh, Crowley, forgive me!
Crowley tried again to get his angel’s attention, “Aziraphale! Hey, angel! I’m wet!”
Aziraphale sniffed, looked up and blinked. “Crowley? You’re what?”
Crowley started laughing, “I’m wet!”
Aziraphale stared at him. “You’ve just been doused with holy water, and You. Are. WET?!?”
Laughing a bit hysterically and grinning that big grin of his [you know the one], Crowley answered, “Yeah! I’m wet, angel.”
As the implications set in, his mind started screaming he’s still alive! He’s still alive! Aziraphale tried to get to his demon, laughing and crying at the same time, but the two angels in charge of holding him back finally came to their senses and grabbed him again.
The halls of heaven were echoing with the sound of thousands of the host murmuring under their breaths to one another at the strange proceedings.
Michael hissed at Gabriel, “Great! Now we’ve shown the entire host that there’s a demon we cannot kill! I told you that he had survived it, I saw it, but no, you had to go ahead…”
“Enough!” interrupted Gabriel. “He’s still chained down, get your sword and finish him off.”
Michael glared at him. “I use my sword under one and only one Authority, and that is NOT YOU, Gabriel!”
While they were arguing, a brilliant white light filled the hall, silencing all voices with wonder. A voice echoed out through the hall, warm and resonant, not heard with ears but understood with every ounce of celestial essence, “Oh, my dear Star Maker, what have they done to you?”
The light that covered Crowley was soft and warm and soothing. All his restraints were miracled away, all his injuries were healed, and the floor beneath him no longer burned him. He sat up, afraid to move from that one spot of the floor, just in case, and gaped at Aziraphale.
At the Voice, every angel in the hall kneeled and bowed, except for a certain Principality, who ran over to his demon to embrace him and check for injuries.