There’s a phone ringing. The sound echos through the flat, brutally interrupting a string of incredibly creative insults to a plant with so many spots Crowley thinks it might have a legitimate deathwish. They should know better than this .
“Don’t get comfortable,” he tells it, setting it back down and moving towards his office. “I’m coming back for you.” The thing hardly even seems to recognise the threat, puzzling Crowley thoroughly.
The phone chime sounds… odd, though. Not his normal one. And the increase in volume as he works towards his office is oddly foreboding, louder than usual. His steps feel mired, like walking through a swamp or thick mud. His footsteps are too loud, and something in his chest clenches tighter with every inch closer to the phone.
The phone that’s ringing is very old, one of the rotary dialed ones with the single ear piece, the receiver attached to the base. Black and gold and ivory, no cords to be seen anywhere, but it’s here and ringing and ringing. It’s sitting dead center on his desk, immediately before the throne, and this close to it the chime is practically earsplitting. Crowley darts forward to grab it, shut it up, and lifts the earpiece, breath caught fast and technically unnecessary heartbeat pounding away like a jackhammer. He doesn’t know what about this has him on the edge of a freefall into sheer terror, but he knows he isn’t going to be able to ignore it.
“ Crowley .”
No. No, no, no, this is wrong. The voice on the other end is deep and laden heavy with a malicious amusement, makes the hairs on the back of his neck stand up, the skin under the chain prickle and itch and burn. He had hoped.. Well, that’s what he gets for that, isn’t it? He can’t speak, can’t breathe, can’t move, although he does momentarily entertain the thought of teleporting straight to Mars.
“ I know you’re there, Crowley. We miss you down here. No one else has your style, you know.” He sounds appropriately bored, if a little irked, a little pissed . “How’s your angel? Aziraphale, wasn’t it?”
That snaps Crowley out of it, a little. “Keep hisss name out of your mouth.” The words fall from his lips before he has a chance to think about it, protective impulses flaring to life and burning away the urge to run as fast as he can from the phone, from the flat. His voice is surprisingly steady, even though his heart is beating so hard it feels like his ribcage is going to shake free from his torso. “He’ss none of your fucking concssern.”
No one talks to Satan like that. The Devil laughs, loudly, and Crowley winces as it booms into his eardrums and sends a chill down his spine that makes his extremities tremble. He almost drops the phone.
“ Well, why don’t we ask him? I’ll put him on.”
“ Crowley?” Aziraphale’s voice is small, uneven. He sounds hurt. Terrified. “Crowley, I- I can’t feel my wings. They took them, they took my wings and I can’t… Why didn’t you save me?”
“I-” Crowley chokes as the chain pulls down, lands hard on the floor. There’s a scream, and laughter. “Aziraphale, I’m.. I’m coming just hold on, I’m going to-”
He can picture it, is the thing. White feathers strewn about a cramped and dirty pit, the golden blood, the agony. He knows, he knows what they’d do just to torment him and he’s too late again, he’s gone again.
“ It’s too late,” both voices tell him at once, dancing around his flat and bursting with malignant glee. “ You failed.”
Crowley wakes up on the plant room floor, splayed out at odd angles and gasping for air. He realizes he’d screamed himself awake, throat raw. Sleepwalking again, more nightmares sending him wandering through his flat. If he had the gall he’d pray as he runs to his office, sees only his usual phone, picks it up with shaking hands and dials the bookshop.
Aziraphale answers after two rings. “I’m afraid we’re closed for the da-”
“Angel?” Crowley swallows hard around the lump in his throat, winces at how small he sounds in the emptiness of his flat. There’s a beat of silence that brings him to the corner of panic again.
“Crowley?” It’s too quiet, too much like the dream. Crowley’s hand wanders to the back of his neck, feels the absence of the chains, and he takes a shuddery breath. “My dear, are you alright?”
“I’m coming over,” he manages between inhaling and fighting the sting of tears. It was meant to be a question, but he swears he can hear Aziraphale nod on the other end, the gentle rustle of so many layers of clothing.
He hangs up before Aziraphale can answer, makes it down to the Bentley in record time. The drive to the bookshop is a blur of panicked pedestrians and blown stoplights, Crowley’s knuckles white against the steering wheel. The Bentley must understand the urgency, Queen on a respectable low volume as he skids into the parking space across from the shop. He hardly registers the touch of the door against his hands, and Aziraphale is before him in a flash, his face concerned, hands twisting against his waistcoat.
“Crowley, what happened? Are-” Crowley cuts him off by cradling his face in his hands, sliding his fingers into his curls and then pulling him close. He takes a deep breath and lets his arms go limp around the angel’s neck, releases a shaky inhale when Aziraphale embraces him.
In, hold, out. In, hold, out. The angel is here, he’s whole, he’s well and safe and worried but worried can be soothed. “I’m sorry,” Crowley murmurs into whitegold curls, letting the smell of dust and old parchment wash over him. “I had another one. I didn’t make it, I couldn’t..”
“Oh.” Aziraphale squeezes once, nuzzles against Crowley’s neck. Crowley whimpers and curses himself internally for it. “Oh, darling. It’s alright. I’m here. I’ve got you. I’m safe.”