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The First Sin (Was Asking Questions)

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Before She created the humans–her final, perfect creation–She created everything else in the universe. She created trees for food and shelter, clouds for shade, soft land for them to rest upon until they learned to create beds from straw and cloth. And of course, She created the Angels. Her first ever creation, who would serve her and create where She asked for their help. The universe was vast and sometimes an extra pair of hands helped move things along. 

Create the stars, She whispered to him. 

And so, Raphael created the stars. 

No, he created more than just the stars. He made stars, and then planets to revolve around the stars, and then galaxies to group the stars together. Sometimes, his siblings would help, adding mass atom by atom until the stars could hold together themselves without divine intervention. Most times, Raphael was left to himself, not because he and his siblings didn’t get along, but because they had their own duties and only helped him in the rare moments they could spare. 

When was not creating, he was watching. Their Mother focused on Her newest creation that had not been created yet. He watched as She ordered the others to bring her clay from the Earth. He watched as She sat, molding the clay, dissatisfied with every shape She achieved. He watched as She pressed down, destroying the previous form to start again. 

And again, and again, and again, never satisfied. 

After all, this final creation needed to be perfect. 

Why, he asked. Why does this final creation need to be perfect?

Because are modelled after Me, She replied. 

And God is perfect, the other angels agreed. 

They will be perfect, She continued, And you will bow to them as you do Me. 

Raphael did not question this. He did everything God asked of him. He knew his purpose. 

His sibling did not agree. 

Lucifer confronted their Mother, demanding why he should ever bow to a lowly creature. They were angels, divine beings of celestial power. The did not bow to anyone but God. In fact, Lucifer suggested, the not-yet-created humans should bow to them.  

Raphael ignored this. He had his own duties, and none of them included listening to Lucifer’s rants. Michael was the one who listened, not to agree but to argue. 

And Heaven, once peaceful, slowly broke. 

Lucifer whispered into the ears of other angels–not that they had physical ears, but the metaphor still stood. Lucifer was the most Beloved, the Brightest of them all in his devotion to their Mother. And if he refused to obey, the others wondered if they should also refuse. 

Raphael ignored this too. 

As the arguments rose in numbers, Raphael watched his Mother knead the clay, again and again. She sat in silence, refusing to acknowledge Lucifer’s growing bitterness and Michael’s growing righteousness. She sat, and he sometimes sat with Her. 

Soon, She told him, you will have a new duty.  

Raphael moved his awareness from the clay to Her. 

This creation will suffer, and you will heal them, as you heal your siblings. 

Suffer? Raphael had healed his siblings before, always with soft words and no any complications, but angels do not suffer. Their injuries were superficial, barely noticed except for the inconvenience. 

Yes. They will be in pain, physical and mental. You cannot heal their minds, but you will heal their bodies when they need. 

Why? If they will be Your perfect creation, why would You let them suffer?

She did not frown at him–She did not exist in a physical form at that moment–but Raphael felt her disapproval. 

Because I will it. 

Raphael nodded and rose to continue his current duties. Once the final creation was complete, he would begin his new duty as the healer of humans. 

Lucifer found him. Despite the recent arguments, his brother was still the brightest among them, and Raphael forgot about the arguments completely. 

“Congratulations on the new appointment,” Lucifer smiled. 

So Lucifer wasn’t here to continue his arguments. Raphael leaned into his brother, relaxing as fingers stroked his wings. 

“Thank you. I’ll begin as soon as they are finished.”

“Hopefully not too soon,” Lucifer reasoned. “Why would She create them only to have them immediately suffer?”

Raphael turned his head into Lucifer’s shoulders, hiding his frown. That… was a good point. Why would She have them suffer at all? They will suffer, of course, because She wills it, but why? Why would She want them to suffer?

He must have been silent too long. Lucifer’s fingers move from his wings to his face, forcing their eyes to meet. 

“Raphael?”

He couldn’t meet Lucifer’s gaze. Lucifer, who did not look victorious or proud, but was concerned at his silence. 

“Everything happens because She wills it,” Raphael murmured, answering an unspoken question. 

Lucifer nodded. There was no argument. Instead, they sat together, silent in their own thoughts. 

In the end, it was the result of horrible timing. 

Lucifer questioned Her in front of the other angels, and She refused to humor him any longer. Lucifer and his supporters were forced from Heaven, Falling in a glorious blaze. 

Raphael questioned her away from the others, but it was too soon.

He didn’t understand what happened. He was speaking to God, asking his questions, and then he was Falling. His wings burned, refusing to help him soar upwards. He Fell looking upwards, watching his home move farther and farther, though it was him who was moving away. 

His back hit the ground. Around him, other angels looked upwards with him. Some were horrified, others carefully blank. 

His brother was standing. Lucifer’s pride always kept him from staying down for too long. He was watching them fall, counting his supporters, his future army. 

Their eyes met. Lucifer looked away first. 

Lucifer changed his name. He became Satan, and the others were quick to follow. 

The names only changed after appearances. 

Lucifer’s beauty, coveted by all, warped into an ugly thing unfit for Heaven. His pale skin turned red, his gentle eyes turned black, and his soft halo turned into curling horns. His wings were gone forever. 

Raphael’s angelic features also burned as he Fell. His figure turned skeleton thin, his green eyes turned sickly yellow, and his halo was gone. Somehow, his wings were still there, but the white feathers charred into a dirty black unfit for flight. 

Lucifer–Satan–invited him to the throne. 

“Rule with me,” Satan offered. 

Despite the Fall, they were still siblings. Oh, the others were siblings too, but the Archangels were closer than the rest. They existed before anything else, and those precious moments of solidarity created a bond. 

But Raphael did not want to Fall. He didn’t refuse orders, he just asked questions. He did not want to Fall, and he did not want to rule. 

His brother knew the answer before anything was said. 

“Go make some trouble upstairs,” Satan said instead. 

Upstairs. The Garden. 

Raphael nodded and left. 

“Crawley,” Lucifer–Satan–drawled. 

“I panicked!”

“Snakes do crawl,” Satan reasoned. 

Raphael–Crawley–crossed his arms and huffed. For a moment, the two brothers teased each other and nothing was wrong. The angel, Aziraphale, asked for a name and Raphael couldn’t just give his own, and he was just in the form of a snake, and like Lucifer said, snakes crawl.  

But something was wrong. They were in Hell, with different names and appearances, and could never go home again.

Satan watched his shoulders and gaze drop.

“Heaven will have angels on Earth, guiding the humans into doing good,” Satan mused. “It’s only fitting that we send a demon up there to… tempt them.”

Raphael–Crawley–nodded. 

“And you are my most trusted demon. Go up there. Create temptations.”

He stared. “What?”

“Go to Earth.”

“And… tempt them?”

“Yes. Send a report every now and then.”

He stared a little longer. But they were brothers, and he did not mean to Fall. 

So went to Earth and tempted the humans and sent some reports when he remembered.

“Not the kids. You can’t kill kids,” Crawley breathed. 

The angel nodded, staring resolutely at the boat.

Aziraphale–angel, celestial being, and protector of humanity–was going to watch as the humans drowned. 

The first drops of rain fell silently. The next drops thundered down. 

This creation will suffer, and you will heal them, God had told him. 

How? Crawley wanted to scream. How can I help them if I Fell? Why are you making them suffer?

“Well this-this is goodbye for now,” Aziraphale tittered. 

“And where are you going?” Crawley sneered. “Back to Heaven so you don’t have to watch them die?”

“Well, yes. This is part of God’s plan.” Aziraphale, who did not ask questions, who followed God blindly, miracled away to watch from the safety of Heaven.

Well, if everyone dying is part of Her plan, then surely saving them is a demonic thing to do. It’s not as if Crawley wanted to do good–demons did not do Good. Going against Her plan is Bad, and so he had to save them. To keep up appearances. 

He used his own demonic miracles to create more boats and food. As the rain continued to fall, the people realized the severity of the storm. Families piled into the rafts clutching whatever bread and fruit they had, holding their children closer. After 40 days and nights of rain, Noah and his family survived. So did some of the locals. 

None of this made it into Crawley’s report, of course. 

“Crowley!”

He jerked backwards, finding Aziraphale. 

“Crowley, you need to leave! Someone from head office is here and they cannot find you!”

Head office…

“Oh, don’t tell me it’s one of the Archangels,” he huffed. “Since when do they come to Earth anyways?” 

Airaphale was glancing around, as if sight is how celestial beings identify each other. St. James’ Park had many visitors ranging from children to ducks, but he couldn’t sense any divine creatures. 

“N-no, it’s-well-it’s been so long that I was surprised too,” the angel rambled. “It really is an honor, but you cannot be here!”

“Yeah, yeah, I get the message. Leave before Michael gets here. How long is she planning on being here anyways? A few hours?”

“Oh, it’s not Michael. It’s Raphael!”

Crowley blinked. “What?”

“Raphael,” Aziraphale repeated, beaming. “Oh, it’s been so long! But there was a miracle at the hospital, and a child was healed when all the doctors failed, and no one but Raphael performs such amazing miracles!”

Raphael. The name he hadn’t heard in millennia. Most demons forgot he was ever called that. Only his brother really remembered, though even Satan wouldn’t inflict that pain on him. 

Crowley wanted to say “Did no one tell you? Raphael Fell millennia ago and is a demon now. He’s gone.”

He also wanted to say: “I performed that miracle. The child was dying and the entire hospital was praying to a God that was not listening and I healed her because that’s what I was meant to do.”

What he actually said was: “Since when is fixing a cough considered an ‘amazing miracle?’”

And Aziraphale, usually a shining example of angelic softness, glared. “It was not ‘a simple cough,’ Crowley. The child was dying. Oh, I do hope I get to say hello...”

“I’m leaving,” Crowley cut in. Aziraphale looked up from his rambling. “You’re right. I don’t want an Archangel finding me. Call me when he’s gone.” 

He sauntered to his Bentley, knowing Aziraphale will never get a chance to say hello to Raphael. 

Armageddon. 

Armaged-don’t. 

The world almost ended, and everything is the same. 

After all this time, he and his brother still stared at each other, one demanding an answer without asking any questions, and the other refusing to speak. 

Satan broke first. 

“How?”

“I could have died!” Crowley defended, watching his brother flinch back. “Were you having a nap as your second in command threw me into Holy Water?” 

“The boy drained me,” Satan replied. “I needed rest. How did you survive?” 

Crowley pressed his lips together. That spot right by Satan’s shoulder was very interesting and needed all of his attention. 

“Crowley, how did you survive?”

“Well… maybe I spent too much time on Earth. Gone native, like Beelzebub says.”

“Crowley,” Satan repeated. “How. Did. You. Survive?”

“It wasn’t me,” he mumbled.

“What?”

“It wasn’t me! I switched places with the angel!”

“What!”

“We-that witch, Anges Nutter, she had this prophecy that said we need to choose our faces carefully because there’s going to be fire, so we just… switched bodies. The angel took a bath in Holy Water and I stepped into Hellfire.”

Crowley had hoped his explanation would’ve been enough. Apparently it just brought more questions. 

“How’s your son,” Crowley asked, desperate for a change of subject. 

“Not my son,” Satan frowned. 

Ah, yes. Adam denounced Satan as his father, and then Satan was never his father to begin with. 

Crowley was never going to hear the end of this. 

Aziraphale. Principality, Angel of the Eastern Gate, and friend of a demon. 

The end of the world took something from them, and all they wanted was a vacation. Retirement. A cottage on the South Downs. Books, plants, and comfortable seating. Aziraphale reread his book collection, Crowley yelled at his plants, and they both lived together. 

The goal was peace. 

Heaven did not appear to get the memo. 

Crowley moved from yelling at his houseplants to inspecting his front lawn. So far, there were no spots, but the height was pathetic. There they were, outside in direct sunlight, and they had the nerve to be stunted. He should cut the palm down and start over again. 

He was detailing the painful process to the shaking palm when he froze. 

The atmosphere shifted, tasting of electricity as two celestial beings appeared. 

They looked around, observing the cottage and then the demon who stood on the lawn. One of the Archangels shifted, ready to smite him. The other rolled his eyes.

“You again. Where is Aziraphale?”

Crowley smiled, just a little too wide. “Archangel Gabriel! What a pleasure! Come to try the Hellfire and Holy Water again?”

“No. That was official business. This is a social call. Where is he?” 

Social call? Since when do angels do social calls? What was social call code for?

Aziraphale must’ve noticed their presence, coming outside with his usual nervousness. “Yes, hello. I didn’t expect to see you so soon.” 

Aziraphale glanced at Crowley, checking for any damage. Seeing nothing, he went back to the Archangels. 

Michael stepped forward and enveloped Aziraphale in a hug. Aziraphale returned the hug. Crowley stared. Never, in the last six thousand years, did he ever see Michael hug anyone. 

To be fair, he hasn’t seen Michael in six thousand years. It was Aziraphale who was at his trial with Holy Water. Before then, Michael had no reason to be near Crowley. The last time he had seen her was… before the Fall. Michael with her sword, ready to strike down Lucifer. 

“I thought you weren’t going to bother us anymore,” Crowley interrupted.

Michael glared at him over Aziraphale’s shoulder. “This is not a bother.” 

Well, Aziraphale didn’t look bothered. He looked calm. As if Michael didn’t try to kill him with Holy Water and Gabriel didn’t try to kill Aziraphale with Hellfire. As if, despite everything that happened during Armageddon, they were still family. 

“Demon Crowley, begone,” Michael ordered without any actual Divine authority. 

“Hold on now. You tried to kill us and now you’re hugging him? Something isn’t adding up. What the fuck, Michael.”

It was Gabriel who sighed, like he was some kind of idiot. “We tried to kill him. He didn’t die. He’s still an angel. I know you demons don’t know how love works–”

“What?! Do you think demons just appeared one day! We know what love is! And you don’t have any!”

The Archangels who threw him out, left him and Lucifer on Earth with no forgiveness or second chances, who never loved him enough to help him. 

Aziraphale stepped out of Michael’s embrace and wrung his hands. “Crowley, dear, they’re not here to hurt anyone. Maybe you should go for a walk?”

“A walk?! I should go for a walk?! And leave you with the people who forced you into hellfire?!”

They were all getting impatient. Somehow, it was Crowley who couldn’t see logic. 

“How do you still like him?! He betrayed you!”

Wrong question. The angels all bristled, wings puffing out. 

“He’s one of us,” Michael said. Ah, yes. Simple. 

Six thousand years of pain broke through. Six thousand years of rejection and no signs of forgiveness. 

“I was one of you, too.”

That made them pause. 

Demons were not created by God. They came into existence when angels Fell. Six thousand years was enough to make them forget, and the reminder was uncomfortable. 

But Michael, Commander of the Heavenly Armies, knew the proper response. “And you betrayed God. You do not deserve forgiveness.”

The other Archangel nodded, standing tall in the sunlight. For a moment, the righteous, divine presence surpassed their physical forms, glowing in the sunlight. 

“I didn’t betray Her,” Crowley insisted. “I just asked questions! I didn’t want them to suffer!” 

“Questions?” Michael’s righteousness faltered.

The angels Fell when they supported Lucifer against God. Angels did not Fall for asking questions. 

It was Gabriel who realized first. Gabriel, who came to him with scraped wings and saw him heal injuries with a simple touch, who helped him create the stars, who heard him wonder why would She do this? 

Gabriel, who stepped forward, eyes wide, lips speaking the name that his throat did not voice. “You Fell…”

“Oh, Gabe, that is old news! You threw me out, remember! I just wanted to know why! And you threw me out!” 

The Archangels moved closer, circling him, eyes wide with realization, going over his thin frame and serpentine eyes, so different from the beauty he was as an angel. Crowley met their gaze, burning with Hellfire. 

And Aziraphale, previously determined to get Crowley away and keep the peace, realized how lost he was. His eyes darted between Crowley and the Archangels, wondering how they knew each other from before. 

The Archangels watched him, searching long enough for Crowley to realize that they can’t find anything. Oh, they wanted some sign that he was Raphael, but they couldn’t see. 

His shoulders slumped forward in defeat. Six thousand years of anger left him, and all that remained was exhaustion. “You’re here for Aziraphale, right? Fine. I’ll leave.” 

He turned to leave, and a hand grabbed his wrist. 

“Stay,” Michael coaxed. “I’m sure Aziraphale will allow us to talk in private.” 

Aziraphale, seeing three pairs of eyes turn to him, nodded. “Oh, yes. I needed to go to the shops anyways, yes! Some, um, things to buy. Yes.” 

He stayed for a moment longer before leaving to wander around town. There was nothing he needed to buy. 

“Shall we go inside?” 

When Crowley didn’t answer, she led him to their living rooms and settled him on the couch. On his other side was Gabriel, trapping him in. 

Michael’s fingers stroked his hair. After his Fall, the red locks were the one feature to remain. Gabriel’s hand drifted on this thigh, the Archangel pressing against his side. Between the physical touch and sorrowful gazes, Crowley wondered how long it would take for him to break. No one had petted his hair like that in six thousand years. His breakdown is inevitable. 

This moment, between Michael and Gabriel, reminded him of back then. He remembered when it was just them. For a few moments, at the very beginning of the universe, there was only God and Her Archangels. Back then, they were young. They had no one but each other to keep entertained, and time was passed in each other’s company. They would carefully preen feathers and braid hair, making sure nothing snagged and caused pain. As the universe grew, they had less and less time to spend with each other. And then everything fell apart. 

“What happened?” 

Crowley leaned into Michael’s side. “I told you. I asked why the humans had to suffer. She had just cast out Lucifer and didn’t want any more questions, so She cast me out too.” 

“Why would you do that?”

Crowley pulled away, eyes flashing at Gabriel. “They didn’t deserve suffering. They hadn’t done anything yet.” 

“You should’ve waited–”

“I shouldn’t have Fallen for just asking–”

“Raphael.” 

Crowley froze. Michael pulled him to her again, resuming her careful stroking as if nothing happened. 

The touches, the sorrowful gazes, the name, it was too much. The first tears were wiped away by Michael, forcing Crowley to realize he was crying at all. He turned and hid his face against her shoulder, giving Gabriel the opportunity to rub his back, right above his hidden wings. Crowley understood the silent message, unfurling his wings. 

The first touch was barely there. The feathers were stiff, charred, nothing like the organic softness of an angel’s wings. Crowley pushed his face deeper into Michael, refusing to look at the horror he knew was there. Once Gabriel made sure that the wings wouldn’t crumble to dust, he set about straightening the feathers as best as he could. Some feathers refused to straighten, charred into a permanent state of dishevelment. 

In those seconds, it was as if he never Fell, as if he was still the Archangel Raphael with his siblings. 

“You can come back,” Michael whispered in his hair. “You never rebelled. You can come back.”

“Back?” Crowley pulled away to look at Michael, but she was serious. He laughed. “I can’t come back. I Fell. You can’t un-Fall.” 

“You’re different,” she pressed. “You’re one of us.” Us meaning Archangel. He wasn’t one of those lower angels tempted by Lucifer, forgotten as time passed. No, he was slightly more important than the others. 

“I was one of you. Now I’m not. Be-sides! Who’s gonna watch over Luci if I leave?”

Between Lucifer’s–Satan’s–selective blindness and his Arrangement with Aziraphale, Crowley accepted that he Fell and was a demon and that there was no going back. Michael offering the possibility changed nothing. Crowley, who didn’t dare dream of this moment, didn’t want to go back.  

“Luficer Fell–”

“So did I–”

“No, you didn’t–”

“Yes, I did! Why can’t you accept this! You didn’t see me for six thousand years after the Fall! Where did you think I was? On some beach, drinking a margarita?”

Michael wasn’t going to drop it. She was stubborn and only the word of God would get her to back down. God never actually spoke at that moment, which Crowley figured was its own sign.

If seriousness didn’t work, Crowley needed to resort to theatrics.

Crowley turned and collapsed into Michal’s lap in a dramatic fall. He used Gabriel as a footstool. 

“Michael. Dude. I’m not going back. I’m going to be here, tempting these humans as a demon. I guess you and Gabriel have no choice but to come and thwart my attempts. A lot. You need to visit a lot. Just in case.”

Crowley wondered if it would work. It did on Aziraphale, but only because he and the angel were so close. Michael and Gabriel were more serious, and his proposed plan was so obviously a set-up, he expected them to roll their eyes and keep trying to convince him to un-Fall. 

Michael went back to petting his hair. “Oh yes. We can no longer trust Aziraphale to thwart you. We need to keep a close eye on you ourselves.”

Gabriel nodded enthusiastically, and Crowley remembered how high-energy the Archangel was before. That office job really killed his spirit. “Yes. We will visit you. To make sure you’re not committing any foul deeds. Because you are a demon.” 

Michael paused her motions to stare at Gabriel. Crowley’s entire body shook with laughter, and he could not stop. It wasn’t that Gabriel was being more awkward than usual, but that the entire situation was so insane and he already cried so laughing was the next course of action. 

Michael was too dignified to laugh at Gabriel, and Gabriel himself didn’t realize why his words were funny, but they both smiled anyways. 

Soon, Aziraphale would return, and Michael and Gabriel would leave. Soon, Crowley would need to explain everything to Aziraphale. Soon, Michael and Gabriel would return, day after day, as if the last six thousand years never happened. 

Until then, Crowley laid on his siblings, laughing at a joke that wasn’t even funny, and everything was alright. 

Chapter Text

Aziraphale peered into the cottage. “Are they gone, then?”

Crowley groaned, dragging his hand over his face. Trust the angel to ask stupid questions. Still a demon? still rang in his ears from Rome. 

“Yup. Gone. For now. You and me are the only celestial being here.”

He knew they would be back soon, probably as early as tomorrow. They just found their long lost sibling and were not going to let go any time soon. The thought had Crowley feeling unusually warm for a demon.

Aziraphale lurked at the door, wringing his hands and observing Crowley on the sofa. Hours later, the demon still laid there, though his wings were retracted. The Holy Essense of the two Archangels faded away, indistinguishable from Aziraphale’s own aura. If he didn’t see Michael and Gabriel with his own two eyes, he would never have known they visited. Crowley didn’t look any different, either. He wasn’t hurt, laying on the sofa in the way only Crowley could, lounging in a way that would tempt any mortal. 

The normality of the situation eased Aziraphale’s tension. He walked closer, sitting at the foot of the couch and forcing Crowley to move his feet. 

“So dear,” he began, knowing pet names were Crowley’s weakness. “What did they want.”

Crowley tensed. Nothing. Everything. They wanted him to be an angel again, even though it was impossible. They wanted their brother back.  

“Oh, just a quick chat. You know how it is.” Crowley himself had no idea how it was. 

Aziraphale’s hand touched his ankle. It had been hours since the Archangels touched him, but the lingering tension shot up. 

“Did you know them? Before the Fall?”

He didn’t answer. The three of them had made it very clear that the answer was yes before Michael asked–commanded, really–Aziraphale to leave. The silence stretched out, Crowley too tired to relive the time before the Fall for a second time that day and Aziraphale too kind to push when he could wait for Crowley to answer when he was ready. 

“It’s getting late,” the angel said finally. “And I know how fond you are of sleep, dear. Are you going to head in?”

Again, the answer was obvious. This time, Aziraphale asked for Crowley’s sake, giving him an excuse to leave the room and be alone with his thoughts. Crowley almost suggested they break out the alcohol, but if was a crying mess sober, he didn’t want to know how he would be drunk. He’d never be able to look at Aziraphale again. He had his dignity to uphold, after all. 

But if Michael and Gabriel would be back the next morning, it might be better to rip off the bandage and get it over with. 

Crowley sat up, still refusing to meet Aziraphale’s eyes. “I have something to tell you, angel.”

Aziraphale was careful to keep his gaze politely interested. 

“Before I Fell–” Crowley stopped.

What words would he even use? What words could describe the horror of being cast out by his Mother and losing his siblings, of seeing his home move farther and farther away as he Fell. How could he verbalize the pain of his wings burning and his body twisting away from his angelic form. How could he explain the tentative joy of his siblings finding him again, by accident, and not finishing the job, instead comforting him the best that they could. 

Best to start from the beginning. 

“Before I Fell, I was the Archangel Raphael.” 

Aziraphale didn’t react. There was no wide eyes or gasps or moving closer or away. He sat perfectly still, and Crowley wondered if he spoke at all. Crowley really hoped he did speak, because it was hard enough to say the first time. 

“I see.”

And…? What did that even mean? He really could use some more help. 

Aziraphale didn’t elaborate. He didn’t do anything at all. Crowley wondered if he should barrel on, try to explain his situation better. But there wasn’t anything else to explain. He was once Raphael, then he didn’t mean to Fall but did, and now he was the Demon Crowley. 

The old wooden clock kept ticking. Again, and again, and again, until Crowley realized that too much time had passed and Aziraphale wouldn’t say anything. And he should get some sleep anyways. 

He got up and went to his bedroom. The only bedroom in the cottage, since Aziraphale didn’t sleep. 

Hours of unconsciousness sounded wonderful. 

The next morning was beautiful. Crowley woke up to singing birds, the awful noise forcing him to cover his ears with his pillow. Why do birds need to sing at sunrise anyways. It was way too early for singing birds. 

Sleeping helped fix his emotions. He woke up ready for some mild mischief. There would be no more crying. He was a demon, for Satan’s sake. He would start by extending the branches at the edge of the woods where the children played. They wouldn’t see where they were going and trip, skinning their knees and crying up a fuss. A perfectly demonic action to balance out the angelic birdsongs. 

He made it as far as the kitchen before realizing that they had guests. 

Aziraphale must’ve offered tea, because Michael and Gabriel both had full cups in front of them. Untouched. 

“Oh! Good morning, uh, dear!” 

Michael stood and held out her arms. “Hello, Raphael.” 

“No.” 

“No?”

“Nope. It’s Crowley now. Say ‘Hello, Crowley.’”

Michael’s smile morphed into an insulted look. “Absolutely not. You are our brother. I refuse to call you by that awful, demonic name.” 

“It’s my name,” he glared. “Call me Crowley or get out.” 

“Hello, Crowley,” Michael was quick to reply. 

He took the final seat at the table. Interestingly, there were only two seats last night.

“Aziraphale was giving us a tour of the house,” Gabriel smiled. “It is very physical.”

Oh Someone, Gabriel was awful at small talk. Of course the house was physical. It was a house. 

“He also made us this lovely tea,” Michael added. 

Crowley smiled. Others called it a smirk. It wasn’t a happy smile so much as a smile that suggested amusement. 

“How do you know?”

“Know what?” Michael asked back. 

“That the tea is lovely. You haven’t had any yet. It’s very rude, you know. Drink the tea.” 

The Archangels looked at him, the tea, and then him again. Never, in all their existence, did they consume food or drink, and they did not want to break that streak. 

Beside him, Aziraphale was frowning. “They don’t have to drink it, dear.”

“Yes, they do,” Crowley insisted with his smile-smirk.

“We do not sully our celestial forms with tea,” Gabriel frowned. 

Crowley leaned forward, eyes too wide to be considered sane, enjoying Gabriel’s nervous blink. “Drink it, brother.” 

Gabriel suddenly jumped, turning to Michael. The thump of Michael’s shoe against Gabriel’s leg was officially his new favorite sound. 

Gabriel brought the cup to his mouth, lips pressed tight. Just when Crowley thought he would let the tea touch his lips and pretend to have taken a sip, he opened his mouth. The face journey was worth it. Gabriel’s nose scrunched up in disgust, and then the horrified realization that he would need to swallow the liquid. The only other alternative was letting it sit in his mouth, and that was just as unacceptable. Crowley watched Gabriel’s neck bob in satisfaction. 

The teacup was slammed back down on its saucer, and it was a miracle it didn’t crack. Literally. 

“Thank you, Aziraphale. The tea was lovely,” Gabriel smiled, with too much teeth. 

Michael rolled her eyes at the dramatics and took a proper sip. She had no problems with the taste or the physicality of the tea. If pressed, she might even imply that the warmth was calming. 

The tea in Michael’s cup finished and she stood, Gabriel following her lead. “I see that you haven’t done any demonic temptations. We will be back soon to make sure.”

From his spot at the table, Crowley watched Aziraphale lead them to the door. 

Oh! Yes! Demonic actions! He still needed to go to the edge of the woods! Otherwise who else is going to make those children trip and get hurt. And then, because children cry loudly and shrilly, some candy would appease them, which is the seed of gluttony, as any proper demon would say. It was looking to be a good day. 

Lounging on the sofa, Crowley wondered if Aziraphale would ever speak to him again. The angel spent the day reshelving his books, weaving through rooms and avoiding him in the process. Crowley hoped that their friendship would survive. Six thousand years of friendship were on the line. Aziraphale isn’t one to hold a grudge, but he also isn’t one to be silent all day. 

There the angel sat, in a cozy tartan armchair across from him. 

“You know,” Aziraphale began, making Crowley perk up like a damned Hellhound, “I was named after you.” 

“What?”

Aziraphale turned a page in his book. Crowley couldn’t figure out if it was to avoid looking at him or if the angel truly was reading and this conversation wasn’t worth his full attention.

“I was named after you,” he repeated. “Azi-Raphael. I was created after the Fall. I’ve always admired you, you know. You always helped others when they got hurt and you were one of the Archangels. I always wanted to meet you.”

“Disappointed, are we?”

Why wouldn’t he be? Aziraphale expected an Archangel, powerful and devoted and Holy. Crowley was none of those anymore. 

The book, Crowley realized, was not for Aziraphale. The angel put it down, and Crowley was faced with Aziraphale’s forgiving eyes. Aziraphale was not angry at him keeping a secret, he was never angry at Crowley. 

“Of course not, dear. You’re everything I ever wanted and more.”

“Oh.” 

“You’re kind, you help others, you never want to see anyone get hurt… you’re more deserving of being an angel than anyone else.” 

Earlier that morning, he said he was done crying. He was a demon, for Someone’s sake! Of course Aziraphale ruined that plan. 

Aziraphale moved to the end of the couch, pulling Crowley close. “Nothing changed, Crowley. You’re still you.” 

Yeah. Nothing’s changed. 

Crowley doesn’t regret much in his existence. Even his Fall is old news. But he cannot remember why he thought it was a good idea to invite Michael and Gabriel to visit him. 

Gabriel, who was holding a cactus to the light. “Fascinating. So durable.” 

“If you drop it, I’m discorperating you.” 

“So sharp,” Gabriel continued. “Why do you speak to them? They don’t respond.”

“It helps them grow,” he answered, examining a potted ivy. 

“I see. Hello. I am the Archangel Gabriel.” 

“Not like that!” he exclaimed. “You have to order them around! Show them who’s boss. Otherwise they forget.”

The ivy shivered in his hands. Good. It hadn’t grown new leaves in days. 

“I see. Please grow well,” the Archangel requested. “You are the Lord’s creation and made to look splendid. Continue to be green and lively.”

He snatched the cactus from Gabriel and glared at it. 

“Your spines are pathetic,” he sneered, feeling Gabriel’s horror. “So soft and useless! Keep this up and I’ll chop you up for the raccoons to eat! It’ll be all you’re good for! A slow, painful death.”

He put the cactus back on the table. The spines stood straight. 

Crowley moved to the next plant. He pretended not to see Gabriel tap the cactus pot for a little Miracle to keep it safe for another day. 

Michael marched in and Crowley recognized the fighting stance. 

“You can come back.” 

He groaned. This again. He went to fall onto the couch, but Michael’s hand on his wrist stopped him. A standing-up conversation, then.

“Michael, we talked about this. I can’t un-Fall.”

“Yes, you can. You’re not truly Fallen.” 

“Wha-yes! I am!”

“The Holy Water didn’t burn you.”

Oh no. He never actually… told her. 

“Ah-yes-well-uh- well–”

Her eyes narrowed. “Crowley?” 

“It… um. Well. It… wasn’t me.”

“Excuse me?”

“It wasn’t me!” He exclaimed, remembering this exact conversation with Satan. “Me and Aziraphale switched. He’s the one you tried to down in Holy Water. Meanwhile I was upstairs with Gabriel and stepped into the Hellfire.”

Michael blinked slowly. Her strongest argument for his un-Falling crumbled away. So did the hope that her brother would be back with her in Heaven. 

Crowley sighed. One day, Michael would realize that there was no going back. Until then, she would keep fighting for the impossible, and he had to break her spirit every time. 

And then–

“Aziraphale made me Miracle him a towel!”

“How? They are the worst. How did you deal with them for six thousand years?”

Crowley gave Gabriel a sympathetic pat on the head. “You’ve been dealing with them for six thousand years too.”

Gabriel just turned to press his face into Crowley’s stomach. 

The sofa they were on–the only sofa in the cottage–was perfect for emotional breakdowns and using others are pillows. Crowley had no shame in laying down and using Michael as a pillow. He had done so many times. Gabriel also had no shame in using Crowley as a pillow. Michael had too much dignity to lay down on a sofa, but she made an excellent pillow. 

Crowley ran his fingers through Gabriel’s hair. He preferred it when it was longer, but it was no bother. His brother groaned again. 

“They are infuriating. Rude.”

“A demon,” Crowley added. “Lord Beelzebub knows how to get the others to listen to them.”

“The worst,” he mumbled into Crowley’s shirt. 

Crowley ignored this. 

Annoyed with Gabriel’s short hair, he ran his fingers across his back. 

Gabriel’s wings, like all other angels, was a pristine white. Each feather was personally crafted by God–the first of Her creation. Though Lucifer was the first Archangel to be created, they were all made with love. Crowley’s disfigured wings were a sign of God’s wrath. Gabriel’s were still perfect. It’s been millennia since he preened another angel’s feathers. He didn’t dare touch Aziraphale’s wings. They were too Good for a demon to smear. Gabriel, while technically also an angel, was his brother. He remembered soothing Gabriel’s ruffled feathers when they were still young and had only each other. 

Now, his fingers moved carefully. Gabriel, with the pride that all angels had but refused to acknowledge, kept his wings perfectly groomed. Crowley had nothing to move back into place. Instead, he soothed them down for Gabriel’s comfort, a silent I’m here.

Gabriel mumbled something else, muffled by the cloth, but Crowley got the general gist. Lord Beelzebub was not an easy demon to work with and Gabriel had his hands full. That office job really wasn’t meant for his puppydog brother. 

He wondered, mindlessly petting the feathers down, when Michael was coming to collect Gabriel. She, unlike Gabriel, enjoyed her office job and had no patience for Gabriel slacking off. It was equally likely that she decided that Head Office was running smoothly without Gabriel and it was best to let him sulk away. 

Until then, he was left listening to the endless complaints. 

It was nice having his brother back.

Chapter Text

A summons. What does it take to drag demons into the 21st century? 

Crowley.

The King of Hell demands your presence. 

Be here at noon tomorrow or we will feed you to the Hellhounds.

Lord Beelzebub

As far as summons go, it was rather to the point. He should get his brother a cell phone. A text would be much quicker. And then leave his brother on read. 

It was already tomorrow, and Crowley was excited. The lower demons would be terrified, still gossiping about him being immune to Holy Water. The higher demons would be furious that he was welcome back at all. It was a win-win. With Crowley winning twice, that is. 

Hell really was the most miserable place. Demons surrounded him on all sides, shuffling forward but never making any progress. The walls oozed an unknown slime that he did everything to avoid. He just bought his jacket after the Armageddon’t. 

After five minutes and three feet away from where he was before, Crowley was done. He was already late but this was just ridiculous. Whoever designed the narrow hallways deserves a commendation for their demonic work.

Time to see if the lower demons were still scared. 

“Oi, can we get a move on!” He called, grinning when the crowd jumped away. “Places to be! Let’s go, people!”

Centuries ago, the Red Sea parted for Moses. Today, the demon sea parted for Crowley. They scrambled away, pressing against the slime walls to create a path. Further ahead, far enough that no one would’ve heard him, demons looked back in confusion, only to realize who was standing there and do the same. 

He needed to visit Hell more often, just to see this mad scramble again. 

He made it past the office space, sulfur pits, and dungeons torturing the souls of the damned before finally getting to Satan’s throne room. It is, of course, not Lord Beelzebub’s throne room, which is also used for petty disputes, trials, and mandatory office potlucks. 

Lord Beelzebub stood in front of the doors. “Traitor.”

He gave a bow. “Sup.” 

“You are late. One does not keep the King of Hell waiting.”

“Yeah, well, traffic was awful. We really need to reorganize our hallways.”

Beelzebub turned to the demon doormen. “Open the doorzzz.”

The doors creaked, an ominous sound perfect for Hell. No one had oiled the hinges in six thousand years. In fact, they did the opposite, pouring water and waiting for the rust to set. 

The room was pitch-black, and the doormen didn’t bother waiting for his eyes adjust, pulling the doors shut with another Hellish slam. 

Lights flickered on, old rustic lightbulbs that were later discontinued when multiple people died of electrocution. He kept moving, reaching his brother on the throne. 

Crowley gave another obnoxious bow. “Lord Satan. You summoned me?”

“I did. Hours ago. Where were you?”

“Took the scenic route and lost track of time.”

Satan sighed. “Beelzebub wanted to hunt you down for sport.”

“Aww, still looking after your baby brother? How sweet!” 

“I wanted to ask about your latest tempt–” Satan stopped and stood. 

Crowley stilled, watching his brother stalk closer. He refused to twitch when Satan circled him, looking for something without using sight. Crowley was used to his brother’s predatory behavior. It was necessary to keep the other demons in line. The horns and claws were intimidating enough alone, but seeing them pierce a beating heart made sure no one had any brave ideas. 

This was nothing new to Crowley. What was new was Satan trying to intimidate him.  

“Crowley,” Satan smiled, making sure he saw every pointed tooth. “How are our divine siblings?”

“Ah-what?”

“Michael and Gabriel. How are they?” 

“How would I know?” Crowley asked back. “Last I saw, Michael tried to drown me in Holy Water.”

“Last you saw, Gabriel tried to burn your angel friend in Hellfire,” Satan corrected. “Is that true?”

“Yeah. Forgot I told you that already. My bad.” 

A claw dragged on the side of his face, tilting his head up. “And you haven’t seen them since?”

“I mean, they visit Aziraphale sometimes, but I never stick around,” he lied. 

“Is that so? Why do I sense their Essence on you?”

Oh, damnnit! After weeks of Michael and Gabriel visiting for hours at a time, he must’ve gone noseblind to their Essence. Not that one senses celestial beings with noses. The constant touches and preening meant that he was completely infused with their angelic aura, and Satan definitely recognized it. 

“Oh. Well. That’s weird?” Denial. Not just a river in Egypt. 

The claw pushed on his skin. With any more pressure, Satan would draw blood. 

Crowley gathered whatever courage he had. He needed to get out of this situation. 

He pulled his leg back and kicked.

Satan jumped away, mouth open in surprise and an unvoiced yelp. 

Crowley sauntered to Satan’s throne and managed to sit with one leg on the armrest before his brother realized what happened. He was pulled back off the throne, but his brother no longer looked murderous. Oh, he was still angry, but more so because Crowley sat on his chair. 

“You know, we really don’t give enough credit to Gabriel,” Crowley mused. “He’s dumb but he has his moments.” 

His brother glowered from the throne. “And what does that mean?”

“Michael’s obviously the brains, though,” Crowley rambled. “Nothing gets past her. She’s all righteousness and divine and everything. Always thinks she’s right, too.”

“Crowley. Focus,” Satan snapped. Yes. Satan did not need a reminder of Michael’s righteousness. 

“Well. They kind of just. Figured it out? Well, Gabriel did. Like I said, I did not expect that.”

“Do not make me repeat myself. What did they realize?”

Oh, like his brother didn’t put the pieces together. It was just a matter of forcing him to actually say it out loud. Rude. 

“They found out who I was. Before the Fall.” 

Kind of. Crowley told them himself. But seeing Satan’s narrow eyes and flexing claws, he did not want to admit that. 

“How. Did. They. Find. Out? And Gabriel?!”

“Gabriel,” he confirmed. 

Satan’s head dropped into his hands. It was one thing for Hell’s demonic plans to be thwarted by Heavenly forces, but Gabriel? It was embarrassing. 

Crowley shuffled his feet. On one hand, Satan wasn’t mad. On the other hand, he really wanted to leave. Conversations about their pasts, their former Angelic identities, always ended in bitterness. Lucifer never wanted to Fall, either. 

Satan said something into his hands.

“Pardon?”

He moved his hands away from his face, but Crowley still needed to strain his ears. “How are they?”

He swallowed. Kind. Accepting. But only of Crowley. Michael had no lost love for the brother she struck down, and neither did Gabriel. 

“Fine. Angelic. You know.”

“A worthy opponent?”

Strong, and doing well, and moving on.

“Oh yeah. The worthiest.”

“Guiding humans to do good?”

“Yup. Give to charity and all that.”

“Go tempt them to funnel charity money for themselves.” 

Not that humans really needed demonic temptations for that. Greed was very human. But it was an excuse. And acceptance. You want to spend time with Michael and Gabriel? Go. Six thousand years and Lucifer’s guilt never lessened.

Maybe he should visit Hell more often. Sure, the scrambling demons were funny, but Crowley was clearly neglecting his eldest brother. And nothing says I’m here like rambling about his demonic temptation of removing the headphone jack in Apple products and Satan not being able to leave. 

Chapter Text

Gone native, Beelzebub had said. 

After six thousand years on Earth, Crowley loved sleep and keeping houseplants, and Aziraphale loved food and books, and tonight they had a picnic under the stars. It was all very human, and Crowley didn’t mind a bit.

The picnic started before sunset, Aziraphale enjoying the bread and cheese they bought earlier that day while Crowley kept the wine flowing. Through conversations and laughter, they soon finished the food and wine and laid down on the blanket and watched the sky turn pink and purple and then a deep blue freckled with stars. 

The two of them laid there, in the backyard of their cottage, holding hands but never looking at each other. They didn’t need to. The gentle squeeze of their hands said more than any words, any looks, ever could. 

“You created the stars, yes dear?”

Crowley shrugged, the movement awkward when lying down. “I suppose. Not all of them. A few. When She asked me to.”

“Do you recognize any of them?”

He observed the sky carefully. If he was up there, he would know which were created by him. But he was on Earth, so far away, and they all blended together. If they were in London, they wouldn’t even be visible, but the light pollution by the seaside was minimal, and he could at least pick out the different colors. 

He pointed upwards. “See those? Alpha Coronae Borealis. Binary system. Two stars circling each other, attracted to each other but separate. Binary systems took a lot of care. We needed to make sure they had enough mass to be held together by gravity, but enough distance so they don’t collapse into one star. Took forever.”

He moved his finger slightly, feeling Aziraphale’s gaze shift with it. “Arcturus. Fourth brightest star in the night sky. Gabriel helped me make it,” he smiled.

Aziraphale turned towards him. “Gabriel? I thought it was your duty.”

“It was. But everyone was so busy that we didn’t get to spend any time together anymore. So if we ever had any time, we would help each other.”

All the Archangels had some experience in creating everything. Crowley remembered helping Lucifer with the local fauna in the Garden. Lucifer was partial to the four-limb model: deer, lambs, wolves that would eventually become dogs. Crowley enjoyed breaking that mold, creating insects with a hundred legs and snakes with no legs. Back then, they didn’t know why the Garden was created. Like everything else, it existed because God wanted it, and that was enough. There was a certain irony in Lucifer perfecting the home of the humans he despised.

“Michael was the worst, though,” he continued. “She hated creating the stars. It took too long and she never had the patience for it.” 

Living creatures were made from clay and only took as long as one needed to think of new shapes and colors. But stars took time. God could create them in a snap, but they were not God. Each atom was added by metaphorical hand until they could exist without divine help. Michael wanted instant results and never stayed long. 

Crowley moved his finger again. Aziraphale followed, listening as he named the stars, sometimes adding which sibling also helped in its creation, until the rising Sun hid the stars again. 

Sometimes, when he’s had too much to drink and Aziraphale isn’t there, Crowley wonders if God is having fun watching from Above. And since he’s drunk, Crowley asks Her. Unfortunately, She never responds. Or maybe She does and he never remembers in the morning, which would be a cruel irony. But between Her omnipotence and silence, Crowley wonders if his suffering amuses Her. 

Unfortunately, Crowley is not drunk. But She is probably amused. 

Michael and Gabriel sat at his dinner table, which permanently had four seats compared to the two when they first moved in. Both had cups of tea left untouched in front of them, preferring to keep Crowley distracted with conversations. Aziraphale kept the conversation flowing, telling tales of Crowley’s demonic actions that were nuisances at best while Crowley held his head in his hands. 

The conversation stopped at the scent of sulfur from outside, the clear tell of a demonic presence. Three angels and a demon watched as Lord Beelzebub entered holding an envelope. 

Lord Beelzebub, who saw Crowley with three angels and jumped to the correct conclusions. 

The Prince of Hell stalked forward. “Crowley the Traitor. Siding with the angels now?”

The following incident could’ve been completely avoided if it occurred with different people. Unfortunately, it involved two Archangels, a Principality, an ex-Archangel and current demon, and the Prince of Hell.

Michael stood, facing Beelzebub. “Hold your tongue, demon,” she sneered. 

“Its fine,” Crowley said, wondering who he was trying to appease. “Lord Beelzebub is just playing messenger. They’re leaving soon. And so are the angels,” he added. 

Beelzebub’s eyes glittered. “It’s so much worzzze than we thought, izzzn’t it. Are you one of them now?”

“He’s always been one of us,” Michael answered to Crowley’s panic. 

What Michael meant was: “He’s our brother.”

What Beelzebub heard was: “He was always on our side. He was always lying to you and the other demons.”

“No, no, not one of them,” Crowley interjected. “Don’t listen to Michael. She doesn’t know what she’s saying.” 

Beelzebub moved too quickly for the others to react. They grabbed Crowley’s arm, twisting it behind his back, and miracled the two of them away, leaving Michael and Gabriel grasping at air. 

They appeared at the entrance of Hell.

Crowley was dragged through Hell, and the sight sent the other demons scurrying away. Beelzebub marched forward, dragging him by the arm and forcing him to bend down like a disobedient child. For having short legs, the Prince of Hell had an unreasonably quick stride, and Crowley kept tripping over his feet trying to match them. 

“Lord Beelzebub,” he tried, “you really shouldn’t. I don’t think you know what you’re doing.” 

“Yezzz, I do. You’ve betrayed our Lord Satan and you will pay.”

Except Satan already knows and isn’t going to appreciate you dragging his younger brother to his door. 

“No, really,” he insisted. “It’s not that big a deal. Everything is fine!”

They ignored him. Part of his punishment, he supposed, was having the rest of Hell witness this degrading march. Beelzebub could have easily miracled them to the throne room doors. The decision to drag him there was purposeful. 

The two demons stationed at the doors jolted up at the scene. In their panic, they opened the doors before Lord Beelzebub could give the order, and Crowley was pulled even deeper inside.

Satan sat on his throne, watching with an apathy that hid his confusion. “What is the meaning of this?”

Beelzebub jerked Crowley forward, letting him fall into a kneel in front of the throne, the perfect image of submission. For a moment, Satan’s eyes flashed, claws curling on the armrests. And maybe Crowley let himself trip just to anger his brother.

“I caught the traitor fraternizing with the Archangels. He betrayed us.”

“Is that so, Crowley?”

He looked up, rolling his eyes and glad Beelzebub couldn’t see. “I wasn’t fraternizing. They were there for Aziraphale.” And me.  

His brother walked closer, stopping in front of him and forcing his neck to strain. A clawed hand rested on his head, then curled and yanked his hair. Crowley cried out, went to grab his brother’s wrist, but Satan tightened his grip. 

“Thank you for delivering the traitor to me,” Satan said to Beelzebub. “I will make sure to punish him.” 

Behind him, Beelzebub hesitated, wanting to see him be punished but unwilling to ignore the dismissal. Survival must’ve won, as Lord Beelzebub bowed and exited. 

“Oh Crowley, what will I do with you?”

“Let go?” He suggested. 

Satan released his hair, letting Crowley sit properly on the ground. 

“What happened?”

“Well! Michael and Gabriel were over for tea when Beelzebub saw us together. And then, Michael said I was always one of them, and Beelzebub was not happy.” 

His brother processed the response. Satan would either ask about the tea or about Michael, and one was more amusing than the other. Crowley had an entire explanation for why Michael and Gabriel would drink tea, and the memory of that first time still made him cackle. 

Satan did not ask about the tea or about Michael. He was frowning at the door, sensing something that Crowley could not. 

As stated before, the following incident could’ve been completely avoided if everyone didn’t act like themselves. Unfortunately, that’s an unreasonable request. 

Outside, behind the throne room doors, two voices screamed and then fizzled into silence. The doors banged open, and Michael strode in, sword in hand, as Gabriel trailed behind her, clearly trying to stop her but not daring to actually, physically touch her. 

Lucifer shifted into a battle stance, pulling out his own flaming sword. 

“Hey, okay!” Crowley exclaimed, making to stand between the two armed siblings. “No one needs swords! Come on!” 

Michael pointed her sword at Lucifer. “Let. Him. Go.”

“I’m-I’m not being held hostage! I can leave whenever I want!”

“Michael,” Satan drawled. “I’m so glad you’re here. I get a second chance at killing you.”

“Oh, come on,” Crowley huffed, turning to his eldest brother, knowing Michael wasn’t going to strike him in the back. “You can’t kill Michael. She’s our sister.”

She’s the one who struck me down. She’s why we’re here.”

“No, God is why we’re here. Come on, Luci. Do we really need to do this now?”

He flinches back when his brother snarled. “This should’ve happened months ago, when you stopped the Apocalypse. This is well overdue.” 

Okay. Lost cause. 

He turned back to Michael. Gabriel, for his credit, was trying to talk Michael down. He, like Crowley, didn’t want to see the two fight to the death. And like Crowley, Gabriel wasn’t having any success either. 

“How about a compromise,” Crowley offered. “Everyone puts their weapons away on the count of three?”

Okay. Quick math. Lucifer is angry over six thousand years of pain and betrayal when he was struck down by Michael. Michael is angry over Crowley being dragged away for maybe half an hour. 

Crowley walked to Michael. Her hand shook, eyes desperately going over his form and making sure he was uninjured. Crowley rarely spoke about Lucifer when the Archangels were around, hoping to spare them the heartache. She must’ve assumed the worst, having witnessed Lucifer’s absence during his “trial” by Holy Water. Now, she thought he would be punished again and blamed herself for being at the cottage at the wrong time, for not stopping Beelzebub before it was too late, for not saving him before he Fell. 

He took her wrist, guiding it downwards without any resistance. 

“Michael, I’m fine,” he said gently. “Lucifer isn’t going to hurt me. I promise.” 

She looked into his–serpentine, demonic–eyes. 

“His weapon is still drawn,” she deflected.

Crowley turned and glared. “Sword away.”

Lucifer met his eyes. Both demonic brothers had Hellfire in their eyes. Lucifer wanted a fight, but Crowley was tired of fighting. He stopped the Apocalypse because he was tired of fighting, and he wasn’t going to let his annoying older brother start a war now. 

Lucifer lowered the sword, extinguishing the Hellfire. 

Oh, thank Someone.  

Crowley pulled Gabriel in front of Michael– “Don’t let her start again” –and went to stand by Lucifer. 

Crowley clapped his hands, and the sound was too loud. “A family reunion! Isn’t this fun! Only Mum is missing now!”

“Why can’t you be serious!” 

Either forgetting or ignoring present company, Lucifer hit him on the head. It was a gentle cuff, but Michael jolted forward and Gabriel stepped in front of her. 

Michael shoved her sword at Gabriel–who caught it after a fumble–and marched up to Lucifer. Crowley grabbed Lucifer’s wrist, hoping it would be enough to stop him from striking Michael. 

“You,” she sneered. “He could have died and you didn’t do anything!”

He being Crowley, of course. 

“I personally delivered Holy Water to kill the demon responsible for stopping the Apocalypse, and you tried to use it on our brother!”

Lucifer frowned at the change of topic. “He’s fine. He was safe all along.”

He couldn’t admit that he was unaware of the entire situation due to his not-anymore-son draining his energy and his long nap to recuperate, after all. 

“But did you know that?” She pressed. “Did you know he would be fine? I could have killed my brother and I wouldn’t have ever known!”

“He’s my brother. I do make sure he’s safe, Michael. Which is more than you can say.”

Great. Two beings, enemies from the dawn of creation, are having a pissing contest to see who’s the better sibling. He and Gabriel stare at each other. They’re both so annoying.  

“Ever since I realized, I’ve protected him,” Michael asserted.

“From what? He hasn’t been in any danger. I’ve kept him protected from the other demons for six thousand years.”

“Yes, he was very safe when he was sentenced to death by Holy Water.”

“It wasn’t him–”

“You didn’t know–”

“Can I leave?”

Michael and Lucifer stared at him. 

“Really,” Crowley pressed. “I don’t care about your argument. Can I leave?”

“Yes,” Lucifer agreed. “And take our siblings with you.” 

Crowley studied them. The Apocalypse never happened, and Michael and Lucifer never had a reason to go to war again. They glared at each other, but it was less destined hatred and more of a sibling spat. One Holy being and one Demonic being. One bound to Heaven and one bound to Hell. 

“You know,” Crowley mused. “It would be a funny world if demons visited Heaven and angels visited Hell. But you know where angels and demons can both go? Earth. My cottage by the seaside.”

“Absolutely not,” Lucifer sneered. “I do not spend time with those lowly humans.”

“Look,” Crowley said before Michael could defend the humans. “If Michael and Gabriel can sully their celestial forms with tea, you can visit Earth for a few hours. It’s not like you do anything anyways. Beelzebub does most of the work.”

Lucifer kept frowning at him. The Archangels visiting Earth was acceptable. They needed to guide the humans to be Good and make sure everything was going according to Her Plan. Satan does not visit Earth. He sends other demons to tempt the humans into doing Evil and watches. 

“Tomorrow. Noon. Aziraphale is making tea.” 

He didn’t give his brother a chance to respond. He pulled Michael away, Gabriel following behind them, and the three of them miracled back to Earth outside the throne room doors to avoid the other demons. 

Back in his cottage, he wondered if Lucifer would be as stubborn as Gabriel when it came to drinking tea. 

Chapter Text

An old wooden clock struck 11 o’clock. 

There was a knock on their door. 

Crowley expected the Archangels. They were the only guests expected at all, though they were expected at noon and would be an hour early. For all his bravo, Crowley could not force his eldest brother to visit Earth. Lucifer’s resentment of the humans was understandable, and just as Lucifer never forced Crowley to Hell, Crowley could never force his brother to Earth. 

Aziraphale answered the door, expecting the Archangels himself. 

The door opened, and there were no words or movements. Aziraphale and the visitor watched each other, one in shock and the other in amusement. Only the inherent hospitality of an angel reminded Aziraphale to move aside and allow the visitor entrance. 

“Hello, um, Lord Satan?”

Crowley jerked forward, peering at the door from the living room. The Devil cleaned up well. Lucifer followed Crowley’s example, hiding his true form. He looked human, with pale skin and black hair, and the only demonic tell was the red eyes that could not be hidden. It was divine punishment for all the Fallen, to never fully hide their nature. Crowley had tried and failed to hide his serpentine eyes for millennia, and only the invention of sunglasses saved him.

Lucifer smirked at the angel. “My brother could learn some respect from you.” 

Crowley glared from the couch. “Oh, so sorry, my lord. Didn’t realize your ego was so fragile.” 

Lucifer strolled inside, sitting across from him. Even on Earth, on a tartan armchair, he sat like a king, back straight. Crowley propped one leg on the edge of the couch. 

“You’re early,” Crowley huffed. 

The smile dropped at the edges, and was quickly replaced by a less genuine expression. “I wanted to see how you’re doing. It’s all very human.”

You wanted to be here before Michael and Gabriel so they don’t see how nervous you really are.

“Why are you sitting there?” Crowley demanded. “That’s Aziraphale’s seat. Come here.”

Lucifer was still for a moment. As King of Hell, he could sit wherever he pleases, though it was technically Crowley’s home. But if Crowley wanted him gone for another hour, he would have said so. Instead, he offered a chance to move closer. 

Lucifer sat beside Crowley. Aziraphale hid away in the kitchen, offering a moment of privacy, and Crowley used it to lean on his brother. Michael and Gabriel offered hugs at every opportunity, overflowing with divine affection. Lucifer, if offered a hug, would jump away and hide in his throne room for a decade. So, Crowley compromised with placing his arm on Lucifer’s shoulder and pressing against him. Lucifer–Satan, the King of Hell–shifted closer, turning to look down at him with an expression that could be called fond if the Devil was capable of being fond. And he was.

The two demonic brothers sat on a tartan couch, in a cottage by the seaside on Earth, and for a moment, everything was okay. 

An old wooden clock struck noon, and two bolts of lightning struck the front yard. 

Aziraphale answered the door again, getting two soft hugs for his effort. In that moment, Lucifer jumped to the other side of the couch, leaving Crowley to mourn the loss of warmth. Michael solved that issue herself, and Crowley hated that the touch from his Holy sibling brought more pleasure than from his Demonic sibling. He compensated for this by moving to the center of the couch and continuing to lean on Lucifer, leaving Michael on his other side and poor Gabriel to take the armchair. 

“I see you’re well,” Michael smiled, eyes not very angelic. 

Crowley’s head fell back, hitting Lucifer’s chest. “Yes. I am. You knew this.”

“How could I, with you spending so much time with the brother who–”

“Really?” Crowley huffed. “Already? How was your day, Michael?”

“Paperwork,” she frowned. 

“So much paperwork,” Gabriel agreed. “Can’t let the others know where we go.”

Yes, Crowley suspected as much. His other siblings would be less accepting, and he knew Uriel would gladly run a sword through him. Though, to be fair, he thought the same of Michael and Gabriel and here they were, visiting him on Earth. Perhaps, one day, the Archangels–current and former–would have a proper family reunion.

Aziraphale reentered the living space, holding a tray with four teacups. 

Gabriel wrinkled his nose at the sight, protests ready but never actually said. Michael accepted the cup with a smile, and Lucifer accepted with curiosity. 

“I’ll be in the garden. Do call if you need anything,” the angel smiled.

Crowley returned the smile. “Of course, Angel.”

Lucifer looked at him with interest, and then realized he had three pairs of eyes on him. 

“...Yes?”

Crowley grinned, an exact replica of the smile-smirk when Gabriel and Michael first tried tea. “Are you going to drink it, brother?” 

“This is tea?”

“Yes, it is.”

His smirk did nothing to deter Lucifer. His brother brought the cup to his lips, cautious but not fearful or disgusted. At the first sip, his eyes lit up.  

“This is wonderful,” Lucifer breathed. 

“It… is?”

He did not expect Lucifer to be so pleased.  

Crowley was used to disgust. Celestial beings did not drink tea, and Crowley expected his brother to scoff at the idea and tell him he had gone native. Gabriel never missed an opportunity to express his revulsion, usually to Aziraphale, which only made Crowley more upset. Even Michael, who would accept a cup out of politeness, only took a few sips. 

He turned his body towards his brother, away from Michael, to watch Lucifer drink. There was some symbolism in that movement, he supposed. It wasn’t that he was turning away from his angelic siblings and towards his demonic sibling. No, Crowley turned to the sibling that accepted and enjoyed tea simply because Cowley did.

Lucifer hesitated at his eagerness but continued to enjoy the drink. 

Crowley was practically vibrating. 

“Aziraphale!” He shouted. 

The angel hurried in from the garden, expecting a bloodbath but instead getting a rather domestic scene. Two Archangels and two demons were sitting with tea and no one was hurt. 

Crowley looked at his brother. “Tell him,” he urged. 

Lucifer blinked before realizing what Crowley meant. “This tea is wonderful, Aziraphale. Thank you.” 

Aziraphale flushed at the compliment. “Oh! Thank you! I have some more, if you want?”

Lucifer–King of Hell–nodded and held out his cup for Aziraphale to refill. And Aziraphale, who would normally suggest the other refill the cup themselves in the kitchen, found himself bringing the kettle and pouring Lucifer another cup. 

Lucifer stared past Crowley, silently victorious. For a moment, Crowley wondered if Lucifer’s enjoyment was fake, done for his attention and Michael’s ire. The King of Hell lying and manipulating others was nothing new, after all. Crowley shifted, worried he was caught between another sibling argument, but the movement caught Lucifer's attention and not even the King of Hell could fake such a soft smile. 

He leaned back against Michael. Fingers combed through his hair. And Lucifer no longer looked out of place. He sat comfortably, not bothered by Michael or Gabriel or Earth. 

It was so domestic. His siblings visited for tea. Sure, they were celestial beings, highest of their stature, but they were family. 

Lesson learned. Never offer alcohol to celestial beings. The liquid courage worked too well and only made arguments worse.

Michael pointed an empty wine bottle at Lucifer. “Even Raphael has more dignity than you!” 

Crowley ignored her. He and Gabriel sat together, watching for any blood but tuning out the words. 

Lucifer glared back. “A rose by any other name, sister.”  

“You are no rose! How dare you reclaim your name!”

Gabriel giggled at the rhyme.

“It is mine!”

“It was given to you by God and She took it away. You are not Lucifer Morningstar anymore.”

Michael took another step closer, but Lucifer was not cowed. 

It was a lovely name, Crowley mused. The Morningstar. As an Archangel, Lucifer was the most Beautiful. His devotion was the most Bright. When Michael struck down Lucifer, God decreed the Morningstar gone, and Satan rose in his place. Raphael at least got to choose his new name. 

“She cannot take my name. It’s mine.”

“You can call yourself whatever you want, it changes nothing. You are unworthy.”

Lucifer pounced. 

He pinned down Michael, conjuring a knife to her neck. Charred wings sprang open, forcing Michael down. 

Gabriel jumped up. 

Crowley stared at the wings. 

He knew that it was a possibility. He had his own wings, after all. But never, in six thousand years, did he see them after the Fall. They were in an awful state. They did their job in keeping Michael down, but they were a far cry from the white wings of the Morningstar. The feathers charred black from the fall, similar to Crowley’s own wings, bent from millennia of neglect. He wondered if Lucifer even let them spread open since Then. 

Michael’s hand touched a feather, echoing Crowley’s horror.

Lucifer flinched back, and Crowley steadied him. 

“It’s okay,” Crowley murmured into Lucifer’s ear. 

Michael stood and shoved a chair at Lucifer. “Sit.”

Lucifer didn’t move. Crowley pushed him down, Lucifer’s back to them. 

Michael jumped into her task. Her fingers skimmed the layers, smoothing whatever she could and carefully removing feathers that already fell but tangled with the others. Lucifer tensed at an Archangel–at Michael–having such easy access to his wings. If Michael’s mood turned sour, she could easily cut them from his back completely. 

Crowley nodded Gabriel over. Lucifer would not appreciate having both wings at the mercy of Archangels. Crowley guided Gabriel’s fingers, making sure his own pressed down and reminded Lucifer that was there. With his own fingers preening the wings, Crowley realized just how bad the damage was. They were matted, feathers tangling into each other and destined to fail if called to flight. Each stroke pulled out fallen feathers, all of which were carefully placed to the side.

Lucifer flinched at Michael’s huff, and Crowley realized he read Lucifer’s stiffness wrong. 

It wasn’t that it was an Archangel that made him flinch. It was Michael. Michael, who had no patience and whose fingers moved without worrying about the harshness. Gabriel, on the other hand, spent his early years being preened by the others–the blessing of being the youngest–and learned how to be gentle to return the gesture. 

He left Gabriel’s side to stop Michael’s rough pulling. 

“Be careful,” he murmured to her. 

He used the same method of guidance that he used with Gabriel, intertwining their fingers and forcing Michael to slow down. Lucifer finally relaxed, letting his eyes close and leaning against the headrest. 

Together, the three of them soothed down six thousand years of distress. 

The Ineffable Plan. Ineffable.  

Crowley hated that word. 

No one knew what God planned for them, and She refused to speak to them. 

The realization came slowly to him. It nagged at him, strands of thought whispering through his mind but never coming together. 

“That is the Great Plan, yes, but is it the Ineffable Plan?”

At the time, it was a clever plan to stop the Apocalypse. Two different words, synonyms but not identical in meaning, causing enough confusion to pause the war. 

Later, Crowley wondered if God had seen that coming. She must have. She was omnipotent. Time meant nothing to Her. Her Plan began millennia ago, with the creation of the humans and the Fall. 

The Fall. If the Apocalypse was planned by Her, did She also plan Lucifer’s Fall? If Lucifer never Fell, there would be no one for Heaven to wage war against. If She planned Lucifer’s Fall, did She plan the Fall of the others? His Fall?

Maybe She did, maybe She didn’t. Crowley didn’t care anymore. He was at peace with being a demon. He still had Lucifer, and he spent his time on Earth, and he met Aziraphale. 

He Fell, something She may or may not have planned, and then met Aziraphale. And then, the two of them stopped the Apocalypse. Agnes Nutter’s final prophecy not only prevented their permanent death, but the failed punishments brought Michael and Gabriel to Aziraphale, and then to Crowley. 

And Crowley found peace. He found Michael and Gabriel and their love for him. He found peace for Lucifer on Earth. 

After six thousand years of discord, his family was together again.

The thoughts flew though his mind. Crowley paced the backyard.

The Fall was glorious, but Lucifer’s confrontation was only the catalyst. The peace has been gone for some time. Crowley wanted to blame the humans, blame God. Lucifer was angry, and Michael was stubborn, and Crowley was caught in the middle. 

Six thousand years later, everyone made peace with their roles. Crowley and Lucifer accepted their demonic existence. Michael’s righteousness wore down, still present but less likely to smite Lucifer. Even Gabriel’s blind obedience gave way.

Somehow, they were happier now than when they were together in Heaven.

“Hey, Mom,” Crowley called to the sky. “Hey! Was this Your plan, Mom?!”

Nothing. Of course not. She perfected the absent-parent act. 

“Hey! I’m asking You a question! You already kicked me out for this, so there’s nothing for me to lose! Mom!” 

More nothingness. Crowley threw the wine bottle on the grass. The Moon shone down, the clouds drifted on, and She was silent.

“Did-did You plan this? Did You…”

Did you make us Fall for this? For this peace neither of us would know in Heaven? For us to piece together our family and be happy again? To… to be ourselves? To create our own identities without Divine command?

He didn’t ask. He didn’t scream at the sky, at a God who never replied anymore. He didn’t need to. She heard his questions whether he screamed at Her or not. 

Nothing happened. 

He supposed he would never know. Her plans were Ineffable. And if She answered, well, that would defeat the purpose of ineffable. 

He kicked the wine bottle away. It was getting late. He should get some sleep. And if the answer came to him in a dream, he didn’t remember when he woke up.

Chapter Text

Michael had Lucifer pinned down. Crowley and Gabriel looked up, eyes sharp despite the alcohol, but neither Archangel nor King of Hell had any weapons drawn. Michael glared down, but that was nothing new or unusual.

Crowley and Gabriel went back to ignoring them. 

“Just like her older sister,” Crowley continued. “All scary and-and stuff!”

Gabriel nodded. “Exactly. And we knew Uriel is Michael’s favorite.”

“Actually,” Michael corrected, “Gabriel is my favorite.”

“Li-ar,” Crowley sang. “You’re just saying that because you still feel bad! Honestly, I thought wrath was our thing, sister dear.”

“We were prepared for a war,” she defended. “And then the war was cancelled. I had to enlist the help of the seraphim to get the others to stand down. It was a mess.”

So you said a million times by now. But it was a conversation that would distract Michael enough for her to get off Lucifer, so Crowley took the bait.

“You didn’t enlist them for anything. You begged. Probably made them feel all important, too.”

“Should’ve employed Hell’s methods,” Lucifer agreed. “Threaten the rebels with Hellfire if they don’t stand down.”

“You know,” Crowley added, “humans have this one saying. Don’t shoot the messenger. You could learn a thing of two from them.”

Gabriel perked up. “Do they?” 

“Yeah. Aziraphale made it up so innocent people wouldn’t get hurt. I still can’t believe you stabbed Gabriel when you found out.”

Michael has the grace to look sheepish. She did apologize and Gabriel did forgive her–typical angelic behavior–but Crowley was not thrilled when he found out. He was going to hold this against Michael for an eternity. Especially since Heaven’s healers never found out and Crowley had to fix his youngest brother’s shoulder himself. 

Michael turned to Lucifer again. “Did threatening the demons work?”

Crowley and Gabriel ignore them again. It was best to ride out the pleasant conversations as long as possible, after all. 

Gabriel nudged his shoulder, lowering his voice to a whisper. “Which was your favorite? Back then?”

Back then? 

When Lucifer was the Brightest, the Most Beloved, the Most Devoted? 

Crowley could see why Uriel adored Michael, of course. Michael was righteous, entrusted with the command of the Divine Armies. But Crowley created entire galaxies in the vision of his eldest brother and still none ever compared. He never meant to Fall, never followed Lucifer to rebellion, but his admiration of Lucifer was second only to God. Many angels agreed with him, back then. 

“You, of course,” he answered instead. 

Gabriel beamed. “You were always my favorite, too.” He glanced at the two eldest, and then lowered his voice even more. “I missed you. No one knew what happened, you know. I wish…”

A dangerous line of thought.

“Gabriel.”

“Raph–”

“Later, Gabriel. Enjoy your drink.”

Gabriel nodded, leaning against him. Crowley couldn’t look. Gabriel’s voice was pitiful, six thousand years of mourning, and Crowley couldn’t imagine the look on his face, soft eyes possibly filling with tears over a demon. Crowley kept his eyes ahead.

They would talk later.

Gabriel came back the next day. It was barely noon, but Crowley offered a drink to loosen the tension. Gabriel just shook his head, refusing to make eye contact. 

They sat together on the sofa, Aziraphale “running to the shops” to offer them a moment. Unlike the night before, Gabriel stayed on the other side, and Crowley resented having such a long sofa.

It was awkward, both of them wanting to talk but unwilling to break the silence. The topic was unpleasant, and Crowley knew it would end poorly. It was all he could think about since the others left last night. Gabriel’s words, his thoughts, held him at the edge of a cliff, threatening to Fell him, and only Crowley knew the agony that awaited. 

“So,” he tried. “I was your favorite?”

No smiles and nods. Gabriel stared resolutely at the wall. “Yes.”

“I’m surprised it’s not Michael. But then again, maybe not,” he grinned. “You had too many scraped knees and pulled feathers for Michael to bother with.”

Michael might’ve been sympathetic the first few times, but she was quick to push Gabriel at Crowley to deal with the injuries. Nothing ever hurt–suffering wasn’t created yet–but Crowley always fixed up Gabriel after a rough play. 

“I missed you,” Gabriel blurted. “She never told us what happened, and I didn’t know why you were gone, and it wasn’t fair!” 

Crowley’s eyes narrowed. “Fair? God doesn’t make mistakes, Gabriel.”

Demons could doubt all they wanted, but Archangels? Gabriel? Six thousand years ago, doubt was the beginning of Crowley’s Fall, and now it threatened Gabriel.

“It wasn’t fair,” Gabriel repeated. “You didn’t do anything wrong! And neither did Luc–”

Crowley lunged forward, covering Gabriel’s mouth. 

“Don’t. Lucifer is unforgivable. He betrayed Her.” Wide eyes stared back, and Crowley pushed his hand harder in his panic. “Michael’s only mistake was not smiting him when she saw him again in Hell. Don’t defend him.”

If you do, God will strike you down too.

Gabriel wiggled out of Crowley gasp. The demon desperately wanted to keep his quiet, but Gabriel was as stubborn as Michael when needed. 

“I miss you, Raphael.”

It was that pitiful voice again, cracking with grief. This time, Crowley had no defense against the teary eyes. Gabriel did not cry. Angels did not cry. Why would they? They were content with what they were given, and everything was rationed as the Ineffable Plan. They could not be upset with God’s will. 

“I’m still here.”

“No, you aren’t! You’re on Earth, or in Hell, but you aren’t home! You aren’t Raphael anymore!”

No. He isn’t. He hasn’t been for millennia. He was Crowley now, no matter how many times the others slipped and called him Raphael. He Fell, his wings burning and his body twisting into something demonic. His Divine Light extinguished in the Fall, leaving an emptiness that no human or celestial being could fill, a permanent reminder of his betrayal. 

No angel has Fallen since then. Crowley refused to let Gabriel be the first.

“Are you really crying over a demon?” He sneered. “I deserve this, Gabriel. You know this. This is punishment for betraying Her.”

“It’s not–”

“It isss, angel,” he hissed, serpentine traits slipping out in his hysteria. “You know this. Me and Lucifer and all the other Fallen, we deserved it. We didn’t just Fall, we Burned, and we deserved it. We betrayed our Lord and were punished. Say it, angel. Say we deserved it.”

Say it and confirm your loyalty to God. Let this be a test to you. 

But angels are not meant to be tested. Humans could be tested and get up with more faith than before. Angels should not waiver at all. 

Gabriel cried silently. Tears tracked down his face, eyes scared and full of doubt. He wanted to refuse, to say no, that isn’t true, but he knew what would happen if he did. But he couldn’t agree either. He looked at the elder brother he lost and never really got back, trapped in uncertainty. 

“I wouldn’t mind,” Gabriel whispered instead. “I would Fall for you.”

I would never let that happen. 

“Think of Michael,” he said desperately. “She would be heartbroken if she lost another sibling. You have to stay with her.”

In Heaven, as an angel. Please, Gabriel. You can’t Fall. Not for me. 

To his relief, Gabriel nods slowly. “For… for Michael.”

“Yes! She already lost two brothers. She can’t lose another one. It would destroy her. Gabriel… Please.” 

You already said such horrible things. You have to say this. You have to confirm your loyalty to Her. You have to repent while you still have the chance, before you’re Unforgivable too, just like us.

Gabriel closed his eyes. It did nothing to hide his anguish. Perhaps it was to avoid seeing Crowley’s expression. The angel went to speak, and then stopped himself. 

Please, Gabriel...

Finally, finally, Gabriel whispered the words Crowley was desperate to hear. 

“You… deserved it. You, and Lucifer, and the other Fallen. You betrayed God and this is your punishment.” 

Crowley relaxed.

Good. 

Crowley made peace with this years ago. It still hurt to hear, especially from Gabriel, but the hurt was nothing compared to the relief that his brother wouldn’t be like him. 

Gabriel reached out to touch him, to wipe away the tears, but Crowley pulled back. 

“You should go.”

“Crow–”

“Go. Find Michael. Help her with paperwork.” 

He watched Gabriel leave. An Archangel should never look so pathetic. Weak. With tears and shaking shoulders and slow steps. Something in Gabriel broke, and Crowley hoped Michael could fix it again. Crowley wasn’t sure it could be fixed at all. 

He clasped his hands together and looked up. He got on his knees, too, just in case it would help. 

“Please, God. Don’t Fell Gabriel. He… He’s loyal to You, he would never betray You, he’s just hurt right now. Please. I’ll do anything. Just… don’t cast him out.” 

They don’t talk about it again. He doesn’t even know if Michael knows. Gabriel smiles and laughs and doesn’t Fall. 

Crowley prays for him anyway.

Chapter Text

With Michael and Gabriel routinely popping in and out of his cottage, Crowley stopped paying attention to sudden angelic presences. 

And so, the sudden angelic presence at the door was ignored until he heard Aziraphale stutter out “Archangel Uriel, what a pleasant surprise.”

Crowley jumped, tripping over his feet to get to the door. On one side, Aziraphale gave a shaky smile, looking for weapons with the knowledge that celestial blades are not always visible. 

On the other side, just outside the threshold, stood Uriel. Gold dusted her cheeks, divinity unused to be trapped in a physical corporation. Similar to the day of Aziraphale’s trial, she had a cream pantsuit and Divine Wrath. 

Once Uriel saw him, she pushed past Aziraphale. He had no warning before she grabbed him by the coat and pushed him against the wall. The atmosphere crackled with electricity, sensing the anger of an Archangel and reacting with the appropriate tension. 

Uriel stared into his uncovered eyes. “How dare you lie to the Archangels. Telling them all sorts of nonsense about Raphael. As if our brother Fell.”

He stared back. Behind her, Aziraphale was gathering courage to do something stupid, something that would lead to Uriel drawing blood. Aziraphale, for all his determination, wouldn’t stand a chance. 

“Archangel Uriel,” he started, keeping up with the formalities just in case, “What exactly did Michael and Gabriel tell you?”

“That you say you’re Raphael. It’s not possible. He never Fell.”

Yet no one had seen him in millennia. Where else could’ve happened?

Crowley met her eyes. “Then where is he?”

“Busy.”

None of your business, demon.  

“Excuse me,” Aziraphale interrupted. “Perhaps we can continue this discussion sitting down?”

Uriel swung around, still holding Crowley coat and forcing him to trip over his feet, ignoring his struggle to stay standing. 

“Do you believe him, Aziraphale? This nonsense? The demon lies.” 

“Not even a demon could successfully lie to the Archangels Michael and Gabriel,” Aziraphale coaxed. 

Still treating Crowley as a puppet, Uriel dragged him to the sofa and jerked him into some form of a sitting position. The Archangel remained standing, sneering down at him. 

“There. Sitting down. Now tell me how you have the nerve to impersonate one of us.” 

“I’m not! I really was Raphael before I Fell! I’m just calling myself Crowley now. Can’t be a demon with an angelic name, you know?” 

He gave a laugh to ease the tension. It didn’t take. 

“Give me one reason I shouldn’t smite you for your lies, demon.”

“I can prove it to you,” Crowley insisted. “If I really was Raphael, I should know things, right? Things from Before? Things that no other angel would know, when it was just us.”

Uriel looked unconvinced.

“Come on. If you still don’t believe me, you can smite me–” Aziraphale made a noise of protest that Crowley ignored. “–but just hear me out.”

For one long moment, Uriel did nothing. He wondered if this was it. After everything else, after Falling and becoming a demon and only seeing Michael and Gabriel after six millennia, there now a too-high chance that Uriel would refuse to listen. She could smite him while he was ungracefully sprawled out on a tartan sofa. 

Uriel nodded. “I will humor you. Tell me something only Raphael would know.”

Only Raphael. No other angels. Memories from when it was just the Archangels, before the Seraphim were created and the Universe really made progress, when they were young and still learning about the Universe and the Almighty and how to properly move limbs and wings alike. 

“Michael was your favorite sibling. Which was completely unfair, by the way. I finally had the chance to be the eldest, and you preferred Michael. And since Michael and Lucifer were older, they would always play rough, and since you loved Michael, you would play rough, too. So you would come to me crying with ripped out feathers and I would have to heal you. It wasn’t until Gabriel that I got to be the favorite sibling and you were big enough to have a fair fight against Michael.”

Back Then, Lucifer and Michael fought for fun, and they had the horrible habit of grabbing feathers and yanking. Uriel, wanting to be just as brave as Michael, took to that strategy like a duck to a pond. And then Raphael would be the one to soothe the cuts and tell them not to do it again, knowing it would happen again because of course it would. 

Uriel’s brow furrowed, her confidence wavering for a moment before soothing out again. “My respect for Michael and Raphael’s love for Gabriel is well-known. Anyone could have made that guess.” 

“Okay. Fine. Too obvious. When Gabriel was created, you were so excited to not be the youngest anymore. As soon as Gabriel understood how legs worked, you knocked him off his feet. Literally. I had to explain that you cannot hug him like that so soon, and you refused to speak to me. Said I was being mean.”

Crowley fondly remembered the Creations. Back Then, the Almighty Herself created, and each was a special occasion. The first Stars, the first Archangels, the first Humans. Crowley remembered all of them, the sensation of Love and Devotion coursing through the angel’s very being and into the surrounding Universe. 

Gabriel’s creation was one of the last special occasions. The humans were shown off, too, but after Gabriel came the Seraphim and in larger numbers. He still remembers the light, blinding and not really a light so much as energy. Humans would later decide that the energy was the wavelength of violet light. The four siblings crowded around the Almighty and watched the new figure appear, the eldest just as eager as the youngest. 

Gabriel, like the others, was created with certain knowledge. He knew he is something called an Archangel, created by a being called God. He knew he had older siblings, similar to him in creation. He knew he had limbs and wings and he had some awareness that they moved. As soon as the new Archangel learned how to stand, he was knocked back down by a yellow blur that had to be dragged off him. 

Crowley had given Uriel a disappointed look, even as the Almighty laughed at the enthusiasm. He made sure Gabriel was standing again before turning to Uriel. 

“You have to be gentle,” he had told her. “Give them time to adjust. You remember how it was.”

Uriel, having never been scolded until then, took personal offense and refused to be near Gabriel for ages. Crowley had to enlist Michael’s help, asking her to please talk to Uriel and soothe out the issue. 

Crowley watched her frown. She was conflicted, starting to believe him but unwilling to face the fact that he might be telling the truth. 

Behind her, Aziraphale slowly left the room, sensing the delicate nature of the conversation but worried that Uriel’s hesitance would shift to wrath. Crowley knew Aziraphale would be just within hearing, in case the situation turned nasty.

“I remember your creation,” he continued, voice softer now. “It was beautiful. They all were, but yours was the first one I ever witnessed. The humans would say it was a bright gold light. Michael and Lucifer had to hold me back, too, make sure I didn’t knock you down before you figured out how to stand. You were so curious about everything, and you loved the colors of the stars I made. You had your own suggestions, too, about what colors would look best together. I was sometimes annoyed, because this was my job, but I listened anyways because you were so excited. And after I made the stars, you would create shapes and stories and so I started making my own shapes to see if you ever found them.”

Later, humans would do the same, creating stories out of the stars. Crowley wondered if Uriel heard them, amazed at how creative humans really were. Or maybe, they were a bitter reminder of her lost brother. 

“It’s… not possible. How could Raphael have Fallen?”

His younger sister looked just as lost as Gabriel did, all those days ago. She refused to meet his gaze, eyes on his chin and mind on the past, combing through every memory to find a sign. 

Crowley didn’t have Lucifer’s Pride, demanding that he was better than the humans. He was a healer, the first ever Healer, refusing to fight and instead tending to the others. Uriel was a fighter. She, like Michael and Gabriel, sat in the infirmary and heard the questions he asked under his breath. Back Then, there was a war, the first ever War, and no one entertained his questions. But they heard them. 

“I think you know, Uriel.”

She crumpled. Her shoulders fell, and Crowley led her to sit before her knees gave out. She buried her face in her hands, but he could still see her shoulders shake, still hear her quiet sobs. He wanted to hug her, to pull his little sister close and hold her until the grief passed, but how could he? She was mourning him. All he could do was give her a few moments.

He wondered if this is the last time he’s forced to witness his siblings mourn him. He hoped so. 

Uriel looked up at him, gold tears dripping down and staining her white suit. “Why didn’t they tell me?” 

They were scared. I was scared. They didn’t want you to be mad. I couldn’t bare to be rejected by you.

“It’s complicated. They just found out and didn’t know what to do. They were probably waiting for the right moment.” 

“They didn’t just find out. They knew for some time now. And they didn’t tell me.”

“I’m sure they have their reasons. You know how Michael is. Speaking of,” he added, “where are they, exactly?”

Uriel’s tears stopped to frown at him in confusion. “Outside. Garden.”

He blinked. 

He knew they would follow Uriel, but he expected more of a show, a dramatic moment where Michael knocked down the door and ordered Uriel to stand down. 

He didn’t expect them to have tea in the garden while they waited for him to fix this himself. 

“Michael! Gabriel! Get in here right now!”

They entered cautiously, scanning for anything amiss, eyes finding Uriel’s golden-streaked face. Michael sat beside her, wiping away the tears and offering the hug Crowley couldn’t. Gabriel lingered on her other side, worming between her and Crowley. 

“Don’t be upset,” Michael cooed at Uriel. 

“You should’ve told me,” Uriel mumbled into Michael’s shoulder.

“We were just waiting for the right moment. This was never meant to be a secret from you.” 

He had to wonder if Michael’s reassurances were true. On one hand, he knew angels despised lies. On the other, Uriel needed comfort and saying that they were going to tell her helped calm her down, a kindness that would cancel out a lie. 

Eventually, Michael’s reassurances ended, and she smirked at him. “Unfortunately, Crowley is even more annoying as a demon. You’ll wish you never knew he was back.”

The nerve–

Crowley lunged across Gabriel to reach Michael, but the eldest easily dodged him. Gabriel, used to the drama, merely pulled his legs in, while Uriel jumped back in defense. 

“Just wait until you hear what he and Lucifer are up to now,” Michael continued gleefully.

Uriel frowned at the mention of Lucifer, but everyone’s nonchalance eased her mind.  

“Oh? Tell me all about it.”

Crowley wondered if he could buy a “No Angels Allowed” doormat without offending Aziraphale. 

He looked at Uriel, whose confidence slowly shrank the longer Crowley stared at her torn wings. 

“Please?” Uriel asked, eyes wide and hopeful.

Well, the only other option was telling her to go away. 

“Sit,” he huffed, pointing to a dining table chair. 

She sat, back facing him and wings extended. 

For six thousand years, he lived on Earth without anyone coming to him with injured wings. Of course Uriel broke that streak, and he was willing to bet Michael was just as responsible. 

He held one wing straight, ignoring Uriel’s shifting. The first cut was already dry, Crowley giving it a little boost rather than any actual healing. He moved inwards, repairing injuries and soothing down feathers as needed. It was an unnecessarily long process, healing one side of the wing and then moving to the other side, only to have an entire other wing to heal. 

With the last injury taken care of, he gave her a moment of peace, stroking feathers until his patience ran out. 

“So.”

She tensed again, reminded of the familiarity and routine of the situation. The healing was done. It was time for a lecture.

“How did this happen?”

Uriel turned to sit properly and look at him with those wide amber eyes. 

“Me and Michael were just playing,” she whispered.

He crossed his arms impatiently. “Yes, obviously–”

“No, it’s not! It’s not obvious!” Crowley started at Uriel’s burst of volume, but the angel didn’t notice, caught in a whirlwind of shock and hope. “ Michael doesn't play anymore! She used to play, and then the War happened, and she and the rest of Heaven became serious, and then you came back, and now Michael is playing again and did you know all the offices have flowers now? They’re these bouquets but they’re there and–and things are better now,” she finished, dropping to a whisper again. 

He knew the War hurt Heaven. During Aziraphale’s trial, he could barely recognize his old home. He still remembered vibrant gardens and clear pools under a blue sky, angels drifting on gentle winds and racing each other. Uriel, the patron angel of the arts, would wear a swirl of colors and patterns that made the most beautiful flowers jealous. Humans might expect angels to be dressed in white, but Crowley thought he knew better, that Aziraphale merely preferred tans and light blues rather than it becoming an official policy. 

And then he was dragged to Heaven. 

The white walls pushed in on him, the infinitely-long hallways causing stress rather than soothing it away. No longer a comfortable glow, the whiteness burned, blinding him. 

Just knowing that some color was returning was a relief he didn’t know he would feel. 

Heaven was getting its color back, and Michael was playing again, and things were getting better. 

His lecture died in his mouth. He wouldn’t ruin this for Uriel. 

Or so he thought, until Michael hesitantly entered his cottage with her own injured wings. 

Both Archangels withered under his glare.

“What did I tell you about yanking out feathers!”

He needed that “No Angels Allowed” doormat, Aziraphale’s opinions be damned.