In Heaven a spirit doth dwell
Whose heart-strings are a lute;
None sing so wildly well
As the angel Israfel,
And the giddy stars (so legends tell),
Ceasing their hymns, attend the spell
Of his voice, all mute.
Edgar Allan Poe
How does one Fall and still stand as an angel? How does one exist both as good and evil? How does one embody the virtues and the sins? How does one perform miracles on Her order when they are no longer one of Her angels?
Crowley doesn’t know the answer to any of those questions, he’s not sure he wants to know them. He’s always been curious—always asked and asked and asked—but some questions, he knows, are not always answerable.
Once he was an angel. Once he had brothers and sisters made of beautiful light, full of song and praise and wonder. Once he knew what it was to be Her mediator. Once he knew heaven in gentle glory.
Now he is a demon. Now he knows what it is to claw his way through the earth, from a searing heat at the core, further and further away from the boiling fire toward sweet blue sky and cold beyond. Now he knows what it is to feel so, so alone. Now he is no one’s messenger, no one’s herald. Now he knows hell.
It’s not as bad as it could be, Crowley knows this. It is worse for some of the demons who were Made Demons and not who Once Were Angels. There’s a difference between the two types; those who have been made into demons are so much weaker, they’re the cannon fodder to thin the enemy lines and exhaust the heavy-hitters on the battlefield. Demons Who Were Angels Before are strong and mighty still, with their wings retained and all of their celestial powers driven by demonic strength instead of God’s love.
Crowley has wings but to those he is now kin to, they see him as a Made Demon rather than a Once Angel. He prefer it that way. Made Demons are given simpler tasks, capable of far less intellectual ability and generally good for a few temptings before they stupidly meet their end at the hands of a priest with holy water on hand.
It was his wings that made Crowley the option for tempting Eve in the garden. He could fly as well as slither, speak as well as hide. Made Demons are given far less attention by heaven and the celestial Powers That Be so, obviously, Crowley would go under the radar and avoid detection.
That made the meeting with the principality on Eden’s wall all the more amusing. For Azirafel knew not who stood beside him. Though he could not for Crowley had done much to hide it from all—brother and sister and Parent alike. Mother did not know him for Crowley had dropped all but his power and wings when he Fell.
Mother did not stop calling on him. She called for him—Her mediator, one who heals, —to perform miracles throughout human history. Heal this human, save this place, travel to that town and perform a miracle to save the children, speak between the Archangels and stop them from tearing each other apart. Always a Purpose. Always another Task for him to Perform for Her.
And for all that he hated it, hated being called when She had cast him out, he still answered her summons. He wore a face that his siblings knew, answered them when they called for him by That Name and never let it be shown that he felt that part of him had died the day he Fell.
Azirafel grew as a friend, became someone Crowley found companionship throughout the ages of humanity. The angel who was a Principality of Eden, the angel with a flaming sword gifted to humanity for warmth and protection and out of kindness. Azirafel was worth knowing, Crowley decided only moments after meeting the angel in Eden.
Knowing him throughout the ages only solidifies that fact as Incontestable.
The kind of Incontestable that makes life insurance policies such useful things to have on a spouse with a dangerous job even when you mess up details on the policy when making it.
God’s plans are, as always, ineffable. Azirafel loves that phrase, that word, it’s his go-to defence and distraction from Important Conversations method. Crowley respects it, that sort of verbal skill is sadly lacking in hell—and heaven, it was lacking there as well, but that was Then and this is Now.
Now where he sits in his flat and wonders what the itchy sensation across his back is. It feels… not familiar, it’s too strange to be mistaken for the irritation of his wings wanting to move and be in the world. Crowley feels as though it’s a sensation meant only to be felt by him and only at this specific moment in time.
The moment his television blares to life, screen mottled with white noise and a distorted but instantly recognisable voice echoing through the surround sound system built into the walls, Crowley understands.
He wishes it had been his wings itching for some freedom.
“Crowley, darling, I have a brilliant task for you.”
It’s not brilliant. Crowley knows it’s not. He knows it like he knows the way Abraham couldn’t believe the sight of three Archangels standing before him in the Grove of Mamre two thousand years ago. It’s the same understanding of this being A Distinctly Not Brilliant Task that he has of every order She has given him over the ages.
This is something Crowley is destined to do but he sure as hell doesn’t need to enjoy it.
So delivering the end of the world doesn’t necessarily involve him tooting a horn for the world to hear, but even celestial and demonic beings had to move with the times.
As an Archangel, Crowley’s purpose was so different to his demonic duties that it was laughable how they—finally—meshed together with his being the bearer of Armageddon. It was hilarious.
Perhaps he should have been sat waiting for the end times, perhaps he had been. All through his time on earth, acting as demonic scourge while performing angelic blessings, Crowley has been waiting. He knew—knows—the fruitlessness of it all. The ending is written in the lyrics of the cosmos, in the stanzas and bars of each note, a mournful admission of what was, is, will be.
Aziraphale—modernised pronunciation, grammar, letters, language, it suits the angel better than it does Crowley—has never understood the pointlessness of it all. A loyal angel, loving and kind, who holds fast to the order of loving humanity. That’s Aziraphale.
Crowley wishes he could be like Aziraphale.
In the moments of his life when he has had too much time to sit and think, Crowley has envied and resented Aziraphale in equal measure. But he has pitied him most of all.
At least Crowley knows the ending, Aziraphale doesn’t even have that. It’s a small consolation.
So here it is, Crowley, the Fallen Archangel Who Is Not Samael, who delivers unto the earth an ultimatum, a determination, a statement of undeniable fact.
Let the axe fall, let those who will fall collapse and those who are given Favour rise. Crowley is the harbinger of extinction.
A fitting duty for one such as he.
Aziraphale understands that the end times are coming. He understands in distant terms, removed from the centre of it by virtue of his distance to the child Crowley delivers to the nuns—Crowley knows without having to check that the child is unremarkably remarkable and will bring the world to ruin in ways it has never been brought to before—and the time they have until the War To End It All.
That Aziraphale honestly considers Crowley’s suggestions, his nagging, his hints, his temptings, to the point of agreeing to work together on the child… Crowley has known the Principality for a long, long time and he never thought the angel would agree to such a thing even with the Arrangement between them.
It’s as unexpectedly wonderful as learning an angel gave his celestial blade away out of kindness and kindness alone.
He’s reminded of his time in Greece, back before the Romans got it into their heads to be a civilisation. Before he met Aziraphale in Rome and continued to bond on their immortality on a mortal world. Greece had been a wonderful place with a lot of dark spots to mar the brightest sheen on it.
Hell had loved Greece for its slaves and wars and conquest. Crowley had loved Greece for its potential.
He had flourished in Greece, walking streets with his eyes gold rather than serpentine yellow, hair flowing red to his waist, robes always a pristine white, red, and blue. Crowley knows he had looked beyond anything mortal. He had intended it.
Greece was a place where healing was so, so important. Where Crowley could walk into a temple dedicated to Asclepius—a lovely gent—and touch the heads of the sick and heal them of their ills and have no fear of it reaching heaven that it was he was doing it.
Heaven had never tracked his movements—they couldn’t, no Archangel could be tracked save by another Archangel or God Herself—and Hell was more interested in the suffering he claimed credit for that a minor healing meant little to them.
It was always assumed to be in service to a higher cause.
Falling had never been his choice, not really. He’d just hung out with the wrong crowd, asked too many questions, been tricked at the worst possible time to be tricked.
Samael’s words were like honey but with a vinegar aftertaste only noticed when one stopped imbibing the sweetness. Crowley remembers how kind Samael was, how loving and bright and sly. He remembers huddling beneath his brother’s wing and staring in wonder as the beginning of the cosmos. He remembers Samael’s hurt anger when She revealed to them all Her newest project.
Most of all, Crowley remembers the boiling pits of hell as he landed, the searing agony as the sulphur bit into celestial skin and tried to poison it. He remembers his wings unfurling and launching him from it, landing on rock-molten ground and screaming screaming s c r e a m i n g.
He remembers contact with his wings of bodies and beings never before known in the universe. He remembers celestial fire burning around him, lashing out and immolating those who dared approach him.
Crowley remembers wings of fire and light and love wrapping around him, blocking out the world, smothering his own celestial strength and arms entwining around him, caging him in place.
Crowley remembers the soft words, spoken in that honeyed voice, calming him, soothing him, placating him to stop, stop, just stop dear brother, you are safe with me.
But safe was not here. Safe was Before. Safe is an illusion Now.
“Go above, tempt the mortals, do this and remain there, I give you the duty and honour and freedom from here. I am Kind like that, I am Gentle, I am Merciful.”
Merciful? It would have been merciful to end him then and not force him to endure as this.
But Samael was only ever merciful in ways that He Preferred to be. Not ways Crowley wished.
That angel up in Eden bears a blade that is common and yet rare. It burns with celestial fire and something more, something else that is a leftover from one who bore it before. Power and strength and will entwined.
Crowley recognises it and he wonders at it. Why this blade? Why this angel? What is the reason?
But questions have damned him once, Crowley wishes them not to damn him again.
She would likely do worse than just let him Fall.
Being the bearer of the end, knowing without doubt that it will come to pass. It is no kindness to know it. It is less so to realise he will be Called Upon to fight.
Which side will call him first? First come first served.
Crowley hopes to never know but he does, deep down he does. It is always She who will Call him first.
It is less a kindness than heaven or hell calling him.
Standing on the ground of an airbase in Tadfield, beside an angel who has no idea who he is, with children who follow the Anti-Christ, two mortals who have souls tied to one another, and the Horsemen—and Women—of the apocalypse, Crowley accepts his Place.
It has always been with humanity.
Selfish reasons have driven him over the eons. To be seen as more than just a demon, less what he has Become and instead as one who is Kind and Gentle. But, at the core of him, Crowley loves more than any other.
He loves so much he Fell.
He loves to understand, to ask, to enquire, to have answers.
He loves to spend time with others, witness them, wonder at them, love them equally and without guile.
He loves to be with his angel, the principality, the kindest he has ever known.
He loves these children, standing beside their friend who terrified them only hours previous, steadfast in their loyalty and love for one who could destroy them.
He loves it all and all Crowley has ever been is a being of Love.
Whether he has admitted it or not since his Fall.
Now he admits it.
Now he stands.
Gabriel is shocked to witness it. To see two immortal beings standing beside a mortal weapon, implacable and unrelenting in their loyalty to neither side and to the Third they all Forgot.
Aziraphale, the bright and kind angel of Eden, is wondrous in how he does not startle at the change of one he has known since the start. His strong, determined, focused angel.
Crowley wants to smile at him.
He smiles at Gabriel instead.
Adam, the child who has been named for one of promise and born of dust collected by Crowley’s own hands, just looks at him and smiles.
“You look more like you now, Mister Crowley,” the boy with Power Over All says, and Crowley wants to laugh.
Of course the boy who is his nephew would Know Him beneath the illusions he has constructed from the start. Of course.
“I’ve always looked like me, thanks,” he replies, smirking a little at the way Adam shakes his head.
“No, you look like you should now,” Adam insists, his eyes moving from Crowley’s face to the wings behind him.
Crowley realises they are no longer the inky-black with slight shades of blue. Now they Shine bright and reflective. Like gemstones shaped like feathers. Lapis lazuli.
And there are four, not two, wings sprouting from his back.
No wonder Gabriel is shocked into open mouthed silence.
Crowley’s revealed himself in every way and hadn’t actually realised until Adam pointed it out.
“Raphael,” Gabriel breathes, shocked beyond measure. The Archangel Who Is Messenger seems weak-kneed and confused, as though he cannot believe what he sees.
Crowley figures he probably can’t. Gabriel always did have a problem with imagination.
“Gabe’,” Crowley nods at his brother—younger than him by moments but no one but the Archangels know that—and shrugs a shoulder. “Long time no judgement.”
The kids snicker at that and Crowley’s smile widens because yes, that was funny. Aziraphale’s nervous fluttering makes the smile and humour sharp and as vicious as Crowley is capable of being.
It’s often forgotten than healer’s know best how to cause hurt.
“You died.” Gabriel looks like he can’t believe the sight of him as real, like it’s a trick of some sort and, yes, he’s a demon to all here so demonic trickery is the Thing To Do.
But Beelzebub is looking a little green around the gills—flies—and Crowley realises that she didn’t know who he had been.
Samael—Lucifer—hadn’t told them.
It’s obvious, looking back on it all, that had he told them that the Archangel he smothered in his wings was the snake he sent to Eden, the one entrusted with the Anti-Christ, were one in the same, he’d have faced a distraught rebellion of Made and Once demons jealous of the favouritism.
And it was favouritism.
“Died? I’ve been performing miracles the world over,” Crowley replies and okay, yes, perhaps that’s not something to admit in front of Beelzebub who definitely didn’t know about those miracles—the green hue on her face is mixing with a pale sort of red, the kind shocked anger tends to produce—but oh well, it’s done now. “Good to know you’re as observant as ever, Gabe’.”
That makes Gabriel scowl, wings ruffling in offence. If there’s one thing Gabriel always did hate his brothers and sisters doing, it was pointing out his attention span. For one who was so good at destruction, he sure did overlook the obvious.
The obvious here being that when an Archangel dies, heaven is dimmed and their name rings out and—hold on a second.
“Did She declare me dead?” Crowley asks suddenly, and he wants to know but he doesn’t at the same time because if she did—he doesn’t know if he could bear that.
“No,” Aziraphale answers beside him. The angel has been forgotten between the Archangels facing each other—one Fallen, one not—and Crowley startles a little. Gabriel too, from the expression on his stupidly square face. “She declared you Lost.”
Crowley blinks. “Oh.”
“There’s a difference between dead and lost?” One of the children pipes up, Crowley knows it is Brian just because Adam knows it and Adam is his family in ways only Gabriel can understand.
Aziraphale looks at the child and it’s not Crowley’s imagination that the Principality’s face softens from a sort of hard concern to something much kinder. He’s good with kids, Crowley knows, when he isn’t intent on shoddy mortal magic.
“Dead is extinct in angelic terms. Angels die and we know because we feel it and the Almighty declares it,” Aziraphale explains in that soft way he has when explaining things, a little fast and with so much feeling. “Lost is—uh—not quite the same. It can mean dead, but it can also mean stolen, misplaced, or one who has abandoned—” Aziraphale looks at Crowley, voice faltering and Crowley snorts.
“I never meant to fall,” is his response, his explanation, and defence in one.
Beelzebub chooses that moment to finally chip in on the whole family drama.
“Thiz izz all nicezz but we have a war to fight!” She gives Gabriel a Look that has the Archangel shifting as though he’s just remembered why he popped into being on earth when he so clearly hates the whole damned mudball.
“Yes! Right! Well, family reunion will have to wait! We really do have a schedule to keep to,” Gabriel says, giving his attention to Adam who, Crowley is pleased to note, is very Not Impressed with the Archangel’s attempts at being friendly to him. “Adam, we need to restart the apocalypse.”
Crowley officially loves this kid.
Gabriel and Beelzebub both blink, nonplussed and Crowley just wants to cackle. It’s insane and bonkers and absolutely bloody hilarious.
“Because this is the Great Plan, Adam, and you have the starring role.” Gabriel smiles but the smile is strained. Crowley remembers the smiles Gabriel used to give him as a fledgling, all full of joy and wonder and awe at his family. This smile is the smile of upper management being forced to try and wrangle an agreement from the union when they’d rather have everyone slogging away for a tuppence.
It’s sad how well that smile suits his brother now.
“Don’t you want to rule the world, Adam?” Beelzebub asks, trying to be friendly and approachable and Crowley sort of wants to gag and maybe Adam does too because the boy leans back a little from her.
“It’s hard enough thinking of things to keep Brian, Wensleydale and Pepper happy,” is what Adam says and Crowley smirks.
Bless those who don’t want power because it’s too much effort.
“Listen, you little brat,” Gabriel’s smile falls away and in its place is an annoyed scowl that rings of storms and destroyed cities of men. “This apocalypse is happening. Now restart it!”
If a child with power over all of creation could turn an Archangel into a slug for being an absolute dick, Adam Young could definitely do it.
“Bit rude, Gabe’,” Crowley says, sauntering up to stand behind Adam, and he’s a little pleased at how Beelzebub and Gabriel both step back at his approach. Aziraphale joins him on the other side of Adam and they stand with the child, facing down heaven and hell both. “You used to be much better with kids.”
“Really?” Aziraphale looks askance at Crowley. “I never knew that.”
“Welllllllll,” Crowley drags out, scratching his neck. “He was pretty good with the new angels when Mother got around to making them. Always showing them how to use their wings and stuff. Guess he’s gotten cranky in his old age.”
The wings Gabriel has been keeping from this mortal plane appear in a sudden flair of motion and light that blinds most of the humans out on the field—Adam and the witch are unaffected. They’re whiter than Crowley remembers, with less gold in the feathers to mark him as loving and wise. Perhaps that says all that Crowley needs to know about Gabriel as he is Now compared to how he was Then.
Gabriel, just like Crowley, possesses six wings to Aziraphale’s two. It is a mark of the status and power of Archangels that they all have four wings on their backs, though only two are used for flight. The other two are more… excessive displays of power and status.
That Crowley retained his when he Fell probably shocked Gabriel more than his being Not Dead. An Archangel who Fell is a disgrace and that he would still have all his wings is unheard of. Samael, Crowley knows, lost a set in the Fall. It’s one of the reasons he has avoided his—avoided him and kept his wings strictly to two whenever he has been forced to see The One Who Was Lightbringer. It hurts them both, he thinks, to be reminded of what was lost.
“Enough!” Gabriel roars and the world around them trembles from the force of an Archangel’s anger.
The humans shake and look around in alarm, even young Adam, and Aziraphale seems—rightly—terrified of an angry Archangel. But Crowley knows Gabriel.
He has known this Archangel from the moment She made him and he knows Gabriel’s limits.
Even without the Host of heaven to give him strength, Crowley is strong enough to match his little brother.
So he sighs and clicks his fingers with all the fanfare of his usual dealings with celestial beings who foolishly draw on their power in front of mortals. Immediately the rumbling ceases and the sensation of thunder and power dies away.
Gabriel looks around, confused and Crowley raises an eyebrow because, well, it should be obvious.
“You always were prone to temper tantrums, Gabe’,” Crowley remarks, amused at it all. Gabriel’s expression is as close to open confusion as Crowley has ever seen it.
Beelzebub—now—looks rightly afraid. That Crowley—lowly Crowley whom she has always hated—can end an Archangel’s anger before it even really begins… it shocks her.
“Last one I remember was Sodom,” Crowley continues. “Oh, and Gomorrah! That was a doozy of a temper tantrum, I tell you.”
If looks could kill, Gabriel’s thunderous expression probably would have murdered Crowley on the spot. As it is, only Adam’s looks can probably kill. Probably.
“This is an absolute joke! Stop with all of this crap and just start the apocalypse!!”
And there’s the whining from an Archangel. Lovely.
“I agree. It izz time, boy!”
And now a demon’s joining in. Great.
Adam Young is the absolute best child, Crowley has ever met.
“It izz the plan!”
“It is the Great Plan!”
“It izz written!”
“The war must be waged!”
“There must be a winning side!”
Adam stares at the Archangel and demon as they trade off, without even realising, to try and convince the child to do what they want. They sure as hel—heav—Alpha Centuri can’t make him.
“But—uh—excuse me for a moment,” Aziraphale pipes up, distracting Gabriel and Beelzebub from continuing their routine. “Is that the Ineffable Plan you’re talking about?”
Gabriel splutters. “It’s the Great Plan.”
Beelzebub nods. “It izz written.”
“But,” Aziraphale presses. “Is it the Ineffable Plan?”
And like a bolt of lightning to the face, Crowley understands what this angel—the kindness and softest and most loving—is doing. He’s being sly.
“You don’t know,” Crowley breathes, near silent, but Adam catches his words, looks at him with that look on his face that is part-confusion and part-understanding.
Neither side understand Her. They never have. Not Before, not Now, not Ever. It’s how it’s always been. Crowley accepted that a long time ago, as much as it galled him and enraged and hurt him to do. He is steady with that understanding. He has made himself a life by doing what he Knows is Right and not regretting it.
She let him Fall and he learnt to Stand Alone after.
Maybe it’s time for heaven and hell to learn to do the same?
“Well, Ineffable Plan and all, maybe this is Her plan all along and you lot are messing it right up?” Crowley questions, mock-thought and pondering. The look on his little brother’s face is so amusing that he wants to laugh, but the situation is Serious and laughing would be Bad.
“God does not play games with the universe!”
Crowley cocks his head because really? Gabriel, really? “Where have you been?”
“Your father will not be pleazzed boy!” Beelzebub declares and, well, she’s not wrong. Samael will be pissed beyond reason with Adam for not causing the apocalypse as per the Great Plan.
Crowley would probably have pointed out the irony that Samael is following Her plan with the apocalypse if he hadn’t been concerned with Samael tearing off his wings in anger. Fun times.
“He’s not been pleased since Mother went and decided to create humanity in case you hadn’t noticed,” Crowley snips at Beelzebub who buzzes angrily at him. The amused breath that Aziraphale lets out makes Crowley smile, pleased that his snark still amuses the Principality.
It’s very endearing that Aziraphale is amused by Crowley at his most snippy. Endearing and very easy to fall in a whole new way for.
“I hope someone tells him, your father,” Gabriel says, giving Beelzebub a Look that Crowley quirks a brow at. His little brother knows a Made demon so well that he can exchange Looks with them? Oh how the hypocrites rule the roost.
“Oh, they will,” Beelzebub promises. It’s an ominous promise, the sort that is an assurance of a lot of Problems to come and probably, most likely, Pain too.
Crowley finds he dislikes that.
But he can’t really do anything about it when both Beelzebub and Gabriel disappear in hues of green and purple, leaving the airbase with two fewer immortal beings than it started with.
“Did we do it? Did we stop the apocalypse?” one of the children ask—Wensleydale—and Crowley nods.
“I… I think we did, yeah,” he says, frowning a little.
His wings are still out and he’s just realised that fact and is starting to pull them back within when the ground trembles and a striking pain runs through his chest, dropping him to the ground with a pained cry.
“What is it? What’s wrong?” Aziraphale demands, stepping toward him in concern. “I feel something.”
Crowley hisses, more like a snake than any sound a human or angel would make, coming up to his knees—the best he can do with that striking pain still in his chest—and he looks at Aziraphale. “They did it. They told him.”
He lets out a shuddering breath. “He’s coming.”
Crowley feels like he’s about to witness something—do something—that will forever change him. Forever change who he Was, who he Is, and who he Will Become and he’s afraid.
“Come up with something Crowley!” Aziraphale snaps at him, standing with the flaming sword of Eden and the Morningstar. “Or I’ll—I’ll never talk to you again!”
He’s so, so afraid.
But there’s anger beneath the fear. Bubbling anger that has been simmering away on the back burner for over six thousand years and it’s finally, finally boiling over.
His wings, snap out, fan around him as he forces himself to stand, to ignore the pain, to heal what is causing it over and over and to keep going. He is the Archangel Raphael. He is the demon Crowley.
He is healer. He is tempter.
He is humanity’s protector.
And he is done with his brother.
Stopping time is easy, he’s done it dozens of times over the years whenever he’s needed a little more time. It’s a little more difficult to pull Adam and Aziraphale into the little bubble he’s created where they can exist and be but not be affected. Adam is easier to pull than Aziraphale and it’s only because of the closeness he has to Aziraphale that it takes less power than it ought to otherwise.
“Adam, you have to make a choice.”
Choices. It always comes down to choices.
“Right now, reality will listen to you.”
A child of eleven has power over reality the likes of which Raphael-who-is-now-Crowley knows to be unique. Half-Archangel, Adam Young can do anything with the strength of his will alone. But it is the humanity in him that makes him so, so worthy of that strength.
Adam won’t squander it like Samael would. Like Crowley would, even.
All angels are flawed beings, imperfectly flawed and prideful. A perfect world is what every angel thinks is Best. They don’t understand the beauty of struggle.
Crowley learnt it the hard way. Aziraphale has learnt it over time on earth. The earth is beautiful for its variety, its difference, its disorder, for every ounce of pain and suffering and harm and wonder and love and kindness there is upon its surface and beneath it.
Adam Young knows the same for he is human and he knows that perfection is an illusion crafted by imperfect hands.
So Adam won’t create perfection. He’ll create what is Right and what is Good and it is never going to be Perfect.
Everything must have a balance. Even paradise.
“You’re not my dad! You’re not my real dad!”
Oh but it’s true. No parent who is absent in their child’s life is a parent, least of all one who appears and demands obedience just for being Parent.
Samael is learning the same lesson She learnt and Crowley wants to laugh at him. He really does.
But it’s hurting too much in his heart of hearts to laugh. The pain of seeing his brother laid bare, rejected again, unmade once more… it’s like Crowley’s being rent in two.
Perhaps he is.
“But you’re my uncle.”
And just like that, with four words from a child with Power, Crowley’s pain stops. Adam has rejected Samael—no, he has rejected Satan as father—but claimed Crowley as uncle. He accepts the bond of family, celestial and timeless, and he accepts Crowley.
Maybe he cries, Crowley doesn’t really know. All he knows is that having an eleven-year-old son of the Devil only-by-birth clinging to him and telling him that “you’re mine, you’re my uncle, mine, my uncle” over and over until it seeps into his skin and muscles and right into the core of his being made of material no mortal could understand, is the most amazing sensation Crowley has ever known.
It’s like Forgiveness and Absolution in one.
This was Her plan all along.
Crowley—clinging as fiercely to Adam as the child does him, Aziraphale stood with a hand on his shoulder—can’t even find it in himself to be annoyed at Her for not sharing some of the details to make it a little less painful for him in the long run. It’s so very like Her to not explain.
Some lessons, parents learn in the end, cannot be taught, they must be lived.
Crowley is happy enough to live this.
He still has Questions though. He wouldn’t be him if he didn’t, after all.
 It’s an incontestable fact that some answers hurt too much to hear. Crowley knows this better than most considering he has given answers to humans over the centuries that have driven men mad and women to drown their children to protect them from the Suffering To Come.
 He could have too. Not because he was Made but because he wasn’t. His divine power has always been his own, his knowledge always his, his wit, his smarts, his survival instincts and drive to Be More. It means that he knows how to avoid notice when, by all rights, he is the most noticeable thing around.
 Crowley had been secretly pleased at managing to make that clause in a policy—it had nothing to do with protecting The Little Guy from the Big Bad Corporation as a psycho-therapeutic act, nothing at all.
 Before the Fall is, in Crowley’s mind either ‘Then’, ‘Before’ or, ‘When He Was Still Just One And Not Two’. After the Fall is, naturally then, ‘Now, ‘The Present’, ‘Where He Is Two Instead Of Just One Any More’. He exhausts himself sometimes, figuring out the mental hurdles he leaps on an endless track trying to figure it all out. Who he was Before and who he is Now, how much they bleed into each other, how little they do, what parts are the same, where the differences lie. It’s all the more exhausting because he can’t just talk to anyone about it. Talk therapy is a Big Thing that Crowley puts a lot of stock in but, unfortunately for him, no licensed therapist has quite the credentials necessary to help him out. Unfortunate, that.
 Crowley has rarely enjoyed any of the orders he has received from Her or from hell, with the exception of three orders that allowed him the chance to work around the strict commands. One time was with Noah’s Ark when he managed to rescue a few dozen of the children surrounding the Ark whom he miracled to a patch of land far enough from Noah and Co to not be a problem for a few generations. She hadn’t smited him or rained down destruction on those children so, as far as Crowley feels, the action wasn’t wrong of him and She agreed with him on it all but was a little Too Proud To Admit It. It was a habit with Her.
 It is no consolation at all. It is too painful to be reassuring knowledge to have.
 It is noted in several religions of humanity that there is an unnamed angel who heralds the end of the world, sounding a trumpet signalling Armageddon. Crowley isn’t quite sure how the humans came to learn this but, considering that the angel they mention with no name is him, he’s pretty impressed. Also concerned and a little bit afraid because someone had to tell the humans.
 It is an oft’ forgotten fact that demons, just as easily as angels, are capable of feats of healing. It is less common but no less possible. Crowley has, in his long existence, performed several hundred thousands healings. Of those healings, hell has not thought to investigate on them beyond a short memo enquiring—dropping the matter when Crowley responds each time with credit for whatever suffering those healed have caused, intentionally or otherwise. After all, a healed slave who was freed but poisoned by their master is causing suffering for that master whom exile is the punishment for.
 But what is there that is worse than Falling? Crowley feels that there is only Death and Oblivion but those would be a kindness now. So obviously She would deny him them. Living as a demon and it being known who he was would, perhaps, be worse than the Fall. One who was bright and kind and a healer, now Fallen? If it was known, that would be so, so much worse.
 It is not a nice smile. Bit too bloodthirsty and full of Might to be nice.
 He possesses another two but they aren’t really wings so much as strategically placed protection methods for celestial organs of great important. Crowley has no desire to reveal those to any present. Except maybe Aziraphale.
 For reasons Crowley never really wanted to think about too much. It was a painful reminder that they were, among the Fallen and the still Flying, apart from all the rest for how they had been made and what they were to each other. Existing without him is, for Crowley, both impossible to consider and all too easy to imagine.
 Beelzebub however is not really family. She is a Made Demon—quite powerful and with a lot of pull down in hell but Made all the same.
 Crowley is under no illusions that the hurt caused by his four wings upon his back is more from the fact that Crowley still, somehow, retained Her favour and love even in a place as loveless as hell when Her Lightbringer was torn at and left mutilated by his Fall. Maybe it’s a commentary on how Crowley never really Fell so much as tripped and landed in the wrong place and had no way back before the crossing closed up shop and vacated itself out of existence. Either way, it has always made interactions between Samael and Crowley awkward.
 The thing that is easy to forget is that, as the One Who Heals, Crowley has an understanding of energy and power and all those other things that makes him a match with Michael and Samael because he doesn’t need the raw power of the First Archangel or the Lightbringer to win in a conflict. One day, Crowley supposes, the others will understand that fact.
 But he can definitely laugh about it later.
 She’s done that several times over the years, each time because Crowley had said or done something she wanted to hit him for but actually couldn’t.