An angel and a demon find a way to move forward.
- Chapter One – What Happens Now?
- Chapter Two – He Can’t Get Away With This Forever
- Chapter Three – Time For A Change
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What Happens Now?
Crowley awakes after the end that never was..
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The world ended in flame and began with the rising sun. Crowley woke to his thundering heart. So loud, each thump could’ve been a gunshot ricocheting.
Would he wake to see Hastur’s soulless, black eyes looking for revenge? No, he didn’t have to worry about head office after that body swap idea.
He had a few centuries left. He’d lasted this long. Crowley groaned, trying to assume a sitting position. Why was his person so fragile? Must’ve been through the ringer yesterday.
He’d sided with an angel. Helped convince the Antichrist to stop Armageddon. Gone against everything the Head Office had told him for six millennia.
Processing that would take several human lifetimes. A century’s long nap sounded tempting.
He’d emerge in a hundred years with enough hair to cause an exorbitant hairdresser’s bill, and his brain would still need to process it.
Carpe diem, or whatever the Romans used to say. He was alive. He pushed himself again and found the floor. It hurt, but could’ve been worse.
Crowley forced himself to look at his surroundings. He was in his flat, but had fallen asleep on the couch. Had he been that tired?
The old grandfather clock in the corner said 8 o’clock. Time to face the dawn. He felt around for his sunglasses, hands closing over the familiar metal.
Crowley stumbled into the kitchen, intent on making a cup of strong coffee, only to have it handed to him.
“Good morning, my dear,” Aziraphale said. His hair was askew, his bowtie lopsided and his coat unbuttoned. What was he doing here?
“Th’ Bookshop-“ Crowley mentioned, but the rest of the sentence failed him.
Aziraphale shook his head and pointed to the steaming mug of coffee still clutched in Crowley’s hand. “Drink up,” he said. “You’ll feel better.”
The espresso was black and bitter, but it did the job. He drained it in a long gulp, appreciating the rush of caffeine.
The demon slammed the mug down on the counter next to dirty dishes. “Wha’ now?”
Aziraphale sighed and sat down at the table. He looked as if he’d aged ten years in one night. If an immortal being could age. Ex-angel? Was he an ex-demon?
“I don’t know,” Aziraphale said. “I suppose we could go back to our usual lives.”
Crowley snorted. “As if tha’s possible.”
Aziraphale shifted in his chair, running his hand through his tangled mess of blonde curls. What was he worried about? “I assume we could travel.”
“Where?” Distant beckoning shores filled Crowley’s mind. It wasn’t a terrible idea. There was nothing for him in London except the angel. “Alrigh’. Let’s go.”
He grabbed a bag from the closet and started throwing in clothes. There was something human about completing such a simple task.
The idea terrified him. Not good enough to be an angel. Not dastardly enough for a demon. He wished the Almighty had spared him the misery.
He could’ve lived and died a boring, but ordinary life.
“Wait,” Aziraphale said, the surprise clouding his smiley features. “Do you wish to leave now?”
Crowley shrugged. “Th’ sooner we get started, th’ better.”
Aziraphale hesitated. What went through his head was anyone’s guess. “Yes. I’ve always wanted to travel for pleasure.”
The angel got up and began packing his belongings. It was a useless exercise, since everything he owned had gone up in flames.
As Crowley threw items into his bag, an idea formed. “France. Crêpes for lunch.”
The angel’s eyes widened with hopeful joy. “Brilliant, my dear. Are you ready?”
He paused outside Crowley’s flat, a question forming in his cerulean eyes. They’d worked out a temporary future to numb their existentialism, and he wanted to challenge it?
“What about this?” Aziraphale asked, gesturing to the locked door.
Crowley cocked his head. What was the fussy old thing on about?
“Do you want to come back to this?”
Crowley frowned. “Doesn’t matter.”
The angel wasn’t convinced, but knew better than to question it. He smiled, linking arms with Crowley. “Lead the way, my dear.”
They sat on the train, Crowley gazing out into the countryside rushing past. After the darkness of the tunnel across the Channel from the UK, he welcomed the sunlight.
Who would have thought a demon would crave the light? The Earth was so beautiful, and he’d had a hand in its creation. He’d fight for its right to exist until his dying breath.
“After the Crêpes, wha’?” Crowley couldn’t help but mumble.
“We have eternity before us,” the angel pointed out. “It is ours to make of it what we wish.”
“Yeah, bu’ thi’ is th’ first time it’s terrifyin’,” Crowley muttered, adjusting his sunglasses for the thousandth time that morning.
If he was developing a nervous reflex, he spent too much time around the angel.
The angel looked at him. How was it possible for a simple action to leave Crowley breathless? It was so hopeful. “We’ll make the most of it, my dear.”
Crowley felt a lump in his throat. The angel was right, annoying as it was. Together, they could face anything. They’d already done the end of the world.
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He Can’t Get Away With This Forever
When Crowley sleeps through a global pandemic, Aziraphale needs something to do.
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The world halted two years ago, and Crowley’s been asleep since.
It’s lonely without that demon draping himself across the bookshop’s many couches, and no customers browsing the shelves.
They had a blissful year of exploring distant shores before the virus ravaged the human population. To protect others, they returned to the UK.
By selling Crowley’s flat, they purchased a bookshop in Wigtown, Scotland, from an owner only further convinced to retire by the sudden halt in sales.
The demon, sick of lockdown after only two months, announced his intention to sleep through it, and disappeared.
He’s been gone since, despite the angel’s many attempts to look for him.
Aziraphale stays inside like the rest of the planet, watching the frozen world through the frosted windows.
In this time of global isolation, Aziraphale does something he swore he never would.
Months into the pandemic, when things settle, giving shops a chance to welcome customers, he sets foot in a small tech store.
He buys a computer. They’ve changed since Crowley first introduced them to him. They were the size of old televisions, and weighed several kilos.
The thing under his arm as he trudges through the empty city streets, though? It’s so light. He arrives at his bookshop, leaving the sign “open.”
An angel can dream.
Aziraphale opens the box with difficulty and finds the computer painfully slim.
How is it more powerful while being half the size? The shopkeeper told him they’re available in several colors, so he chose a pleasing cream.
He’s got this strange device. What shall he do with it?
With lonely days stretching ahead of him, in between cups of tea and the rare customer, he learns.
The keyboard isn’t bad. He has a typewriter which he prefers, but at least the computer’s similar. The touchscreen is a mystery though.
Why bother with that?
There’s so many buttons his mind wants to explode. A perk of being a celestial creature is having an excellent memory.
That’s one thing the Head Office didn’t take from him when they cast him out.
Aziraphale, technophobe extraordinaire, learns to at least appreciate the most ubiquitous of humanity’s modern inventions.
He grasps things from videos.
He talks to people, discovering much about them, but not their name. Aziraphale delights in independent media and community.
Humanity in its beautiful, bold strokes. The good and bad leave him breathless. Crowley will wake up one day. Meanwhile, there’s a parallel universe to explore.
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Time For A Change
Crowley wakes after a nap, and encounters troubling questions.
Crowley was good at sleeping. He’d never needed to be, though there was a difference between needing something and wanting it.
Too questioning for an angel. Too ambivalent for a demon. Too weird for a human.
When he wrestled with unanswerable questions, he’d take a nap.
Whether for a few hours or a century, it didn’t matter. Until it would resurface and the cycle would repeat.
A tinkling of wind chimes sounded, and his eyes shot open. It was daylight, and the curtains were flung wide, allowing the pitiful Scottish sunlight through.
Crowley struggled to remember who he was and where he was.
Yes, he was Crowley, but everything else felt… fake.
He’d been asleep long enough. With great reluctance, he retreated from the warm embrace of his hammock and stumbled to the bathroom.
Crowley could’ve sworn his hair was clipped short. It had grown in one long curly mess, settling below his ribcage.
He stared at his reflection with a mixture of horror and fascination. Crowley could miracle it all away. Though it was time for a change.
He tried to clean his hair, but nothing happened. An icy stab of panic forced its way through his soul, and the heart that didn’t need to beat pounded.
What if they’d made him human? How many years had he wasted? Would he die one day? They wouldn’t give him another body if he got discorporated.
Maybe the Almighty had decided he’d lived long enough. He’d go out like his Bentley, in a swath of swirling flames.
He heaved a sigh and peered at the tangled mess in the mirror.
He emerged from the fogged-up bathroom with frizzy, wet, clean hair.
Crowley hadn’t been up long, but a thick smog descended on him. At least he’d done it. Was this how humans felt when they were at their wits’ end?
On days like this, shorter lives were appealing. Maybe that wish had already been granted. He refused to allow himself to go around in circles.
He’d clean up, drag himself out of the messy, cobweb-filled apartment, and find the angel.
The cold Scottish air greeted him for the first time in years. Or months? It was winter. Or a rare wintry day in the middle of summer. Scotland’s weather was temperamental.
After visiting the local charity shops, Crowley was glad of a change. He reveled in the chaos, like most demons. Maybe that’s why Satan had chosen him.
He’d found a black-and-white geometric poncho and long, low-heeled boots.
He’d also found some red sunglasses, which gave the world a pleasant, rosy tint. And a blood crimson beret to go over his plaited hair.
Life was too short, or whatever humans said.
He banged on the bookshop door and hoped the angel was home. It was lit up with cheery antique lights he was so fond of.
The fire was going, and the sign said “Open!” in big swirling letters. What? Upon closer inspection, by pressing his face against the glass, he saw people inside!
His heart sank when he’d seen they were all wearing masks. The pandemic was still raging?
The angel caught him browsing in the comic section. “Hello! Can I help you?”
Crowley turned around. Same outfit, beguiling smile and puff of blonde-white hair.
“Angel,” he whispered. “Wha’ year is i’?”
Aziraphale’s eyes went wide, and he grabbed Crowley’s shoulders. “My dear boy, is that you?”
Crowley nodded, allowing the warmth of the angel’s touch to seep through him. It was freezing outside, and he was only thawing.
The angel smiled. “It’s thirty minutes until closing time. Can you wait until then?”
“Since when did you ‘ave openin’ times?” Crowley said, staring at Aziraphale.
The angel gave a rueful smile. “I’ll explain when I finish up for the day. Until then, make yourself comfortable.”
He rushed off to deal with an impatient-looking customer.
Crowley stared after him in disbelief, but retreated to a couch.
To relieve his sheer boredom, as his phone was flat and the mobile data had expired, he did something he never thought he’d do in a million years.
He picked up a book.
When Aziraphale reappeared, his excitement was over the top.
“Sleep has done you good!” He looked at the book in Crowley’s lap. “What have you been reading?”
Crowley sighed. “Found a comic about magic and stuff. ‘S good.”
“Sandman, by Neil Gaiman.” Aziraphale read aloud. “I’ve always enjoyed his writing.”
Crowley couldn’t stand it any longer, so he glared at the angel. “Wha’ year is i’? Are we gonna die? Why can’t I do miracles anymore? Angel, I need answers!”
Aziraphale sighed. “Would you like some tea first?”
Crowley knew better than to argue with him, so he nodded.
Aziraphale sat facing him on the old worn couch.
Between them was an ancient coffee table, groaning with the weight of an antique tea set and a tray of biscuits.
Crowley stared at the baked goods. They looked home-made. “Where’d you get ‘hose?”
Aziraphale smiled. “I discovered a passion for baking in this pandemic.”
“It’s still goin’ on?” Crowley whispered, fearing the worst.
The angel nodded. “You’ve been asleep for five years. People are still being cautious.”
Crowley’s chest deflated, and he sunk further into the overstuffed couch.
The angel had the grace to smile. “Look on the bright side, dear. You’ve missed the worst of it.”
Crowley felt a shiver pass down his spine. “Am I human?”
Aziraphale stared at him. “I beg your pardon?”
“I can’t do miracles.” Crowley flicked his fingers to make the dying fire pick up, but to no effect.
Aziraphale shrugged, an expression casual for someone so uptight. “Neither can I. We’re still celestial beings.”
Fragile hope surfaced in Crowley’s stomach. “Sure?”
The angel nodded and stood in the empty center of the room. His wings appeared. “If I were human, I wouldn’t be able to do that.”
Crowley sighed, burying his face in the folds of his soft poncho. “They ‘aven’t forgotten about us.”
“It’s been seven years since our respective Head Offices tried to apprehend us.” Aziraphale squeezed Crowley’s hands. “Don’t fret, my dear. We’re safe.”
“For now,” Crowley grumbled, crossing his arms.
Aziraphale nodded, but smiled. “You’re awake. May I tempt you to dinner?”
Something faint, resembling a smile, crossed the ex-demon’s face. “Fine.”
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