Actions

Work Header

Keep Your Friends Close, And Your Enemies, Closer

Work Text:

Aziraphale was prepared for anything, he had thought. Temptation Incarnate of course.  How do you defend against being loved?

God's love may be holy, but it isn't always kind, nor merciful.

********************************************

A white light so pure it gives you a headache, no matter where you can you can never escape it. Warm soft perfumed breezes, glossy many windowed towers soaring into the clouds, light, light everywhere light.

Music, smiles, elaborate courtesies, politeness so cutting you never feel it part the skin until it gets sting deep.

Rules for everything, everyone in their place. Ever present lingering punishment threats whispered in corners "Do what you are told or you will Fall"

As if being an angel was the highest pinnacle of creation. 

As if…

It comforts him, structure, shape.  He believes the stories as they are told, listens to the mouths that speak their truths and takes them as his own.

He believes wholeheartedly until the words the mouths speak lead them to a path of war. Where angel battles angel, over yet more words.

Truth suddenly developed shapes, layers, angles, it now had a shadow, and that shadow had a name. It became known as Doubt

He fought in the war, reluctantly, chosing to defend, stand guard over the wounded, taking a grievous wound in his leg himself.

He was honoured as noble, faithful, worthy

Watching the senseless slaughter sickened him, how could angels go to war against each other??

Were they not meant for love?  To forgive?

****************************************************

His faith faltered, uncertain on these new cracked foundations.  Whispers appear in the bright white shadows, words of rebellion, disobedience.

Heresy

This time God was not merciful, and angels were cast from the light, into the darkness.  They Fell to an unknown and unkind end.

He watches from the edges, horrified at the agonised screaming as the once bright glorious beings darken and begin to burn.

Wing edges alight in dark sooty filthy flames, leaving charred tattered remnants behind

He weeps.

He feels……..many new emotions, things his limited existence cannot fully encompass

He still has faith in the Ineffable Almighty, wraps the tattered fraying edges of his faith, shoring up his defences. Cocoons himself in the one thing that can ground his reality.

He clings desperately to his faith in an ideal. An Idea.

Because if he doesn't have that, what does he have left?

The rules offer comfort, the structure supports him, he limits himself to fit within what is allowed, as best he can.

But he never quite feels the same. 

Because now he too doubts and questions, but has learned his lesson very well.  He has seen what happens to those who do not obey.  Do not toe the party line.

If he ever slept, the nightmares would scream him awake everytime, choking hoarse, sweat dampened, heart ravaged nightmares.

He never sleeps

***********************************************

Rewarded for model behaviour, he is given an important task.  To do what he had done so well before, and defend their Lords new creation.

A garden.

His task, to defend his part of the wall with a flaming sword.

Swords are not kind or merciful, especially ones that burn eternally. Why does so much of the Lord's work involve hurting other people?

Its painful, beginning to think these tiny rebellious questions.  Trust is a luxury, wiser and understands the stakes better now. Even though he has questions, the memory of the Fallen haunts him, so he gives no voice to these thoughts.  Even inside his own head.

I've been talkin' with the darkness
and listening to what she says.
And I've been touchin' all the shadows
that are hidin' in my head.

Will I fall?
Will I survive?

 

*************************************************

Meeting the demon was a surprise, unexpected. It was much less demonic than expected, and far chattier.  He liked a good chat, it was lonely out there on the wall under the hot sun.  Bare feet on hot stone was a bit of a trial, even for an angel.

Talking kept his mind off that.  Kept his mind off a lot of things, like how he had disobeyed his orders, how he had chosen kindness over bureaucratic policy.

How he had chosen to give his flaming sword away, chosen to step one tiny step outside the confines and limitations of Heaven.

Ironically they decided punishment best suited the crime, and banished him to this New World.  He had a new task, Marketing and Advertising they called it now.  Heaven wanted dominion over this Earth, but Hell would soon be up there, sinning away. He was to thwart it at every opportunity.

They didn't ever tell him quite how he was supposed to do that.

He managed.  Mostly.

**************************************************

Humanity was a delight.   Inventive, creative, argumentative and endlessly changing and evolving.  He was seduced by their many earthly pleasures, the first and most enduring being food.

Villages were scattered, higgeldy piggeldy across the hot desert landscape. Taking his time to travel, visit, stay and heal, share the Lords words.  Sometimes welcomed, sometimes spurned, he made his way, village to village, town to town.

Until a black clad scarlet haired demon strolled out of the desert and collapsed in front of him.

I remember, you took one look at me and literally, fell at my feet.

It was an old joke, now….

************************************************

Loneliness is insidious, it creeps inside your skin, slowly, incessantly, until one day, it’s the only thing filling you up.

When you are older than Time itself, alone in a place where no one truly knows you, even an enemy is welcome.

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, as they say

What about when your enemy becomes your friend? 

How close do you keep them then?

***********************************************

The demon, Crowley as he is named now, consistently fails all his demonic expectations.  He likes to chat, endlessly about any and all nonsense.

He introduces the angel to alcohol, and not inconsequentially, his first hangover as well.

Irreverent, witty, saucy, impious, bold, insolent, glib, the demon mocked him and his God at every possible opportunity.

And the questions, the endless, probing, uncomfortable, heretic questions.

Why?

Killing kids, not very merciful, is it?

Drowning everyone, just to make a point?

The angel could feel the questions press against the shell he had wrapped himself in, tearing strand by strand at the ever tenuous fabric of his faith.

He had no righteous answers to any of those question, beyond the only answer he was ever given himself.

Its Ineffable.

So many horrors they witnessed, some they were responsible for, but increasingly less and less as humanity changed and changed again.

Vlad the Impaler, The Spanish Inquisition, Hitler, so much war, too much killing, endess stinking death,

Vesuvius and the destruction of Pompeii

Influenza and the Bubonic Plague

On and on, they witnessed death, horror, destruction and suffering

All the while the demon asked Why?

Even he got sick of saying its Ineffable

******************************************

They forged a friendship over time, two misplaced beings, ill suited to their purported roles.  As the Millenia passed, they stacked the deck in their favour, doing just enough to look as effective as possible, while often doing very little at all.

The humans continued to create, art, sculpture, poetry, architecture, dance.  He revelled in the experiences, the tactile interaction between his corporeal form and things.

He collected many things, cautiously at first, breaking yet another rule in Heaven Thou Shalt Not Covet

Oh, but how he coveted and revelled in the delights humanity had to offer, clothes, food, wine.

The pair of them were going native, but had been there so long, they didn’t notice and wouldn’t have cared anyway.

Time on earth, away from the strictures of their respective demesne, they evolved themselves.  Shaped by experiences no other demon or angel had, it bonded them into more than enemies, more than friends.

Unique in all possible ways, they became a We, an Us

When the loneliness became too much for either of them, a welcome could always be found at one anothers doorstep, companionship, conversation.

The silent understanding of the only other being in the Universe who absolutely truly understood.

Oh it wasn’t perfect, they would bicker and squabble.  The opposing forces driving both of them often caused conflict, forcing them to act against their natural inclination.

Bitterness sank deep into both of them as the centuries rolled by, while there was much good in the world, there was an equal amount of evil.  More often it was caused by the humans, it was difficult to see the light in the midst of such darkness.

Oh so slowly, his faith unravelled, one fraying strand at a time, faced with the evidence laid out before him of the unkindness his Lord appeared capable of.

The demon voiced so many of the questions in his heart, yet was a constant reminder of the consequences should he, himself, put voice to them.

He doubted, more and more.  Yet lacking any other certainty to put his faith in, he clung to what he had, with the desperate grasp of a drowning man.

He needed a constant, a truth whose values he could judge worthy of himself.  Something good and true and right to have faith in.

He was an angel, he was made for love, forgiveness and protection.

Why then did they give him a flaming sword?

************************************************************

The entire foundation of his very being was cracked asunder in a bombed out shell of a church in London 1941, when his demon walked knowingly on to consecrated ground to save him from his own naïve stupidity.

When Crowley wrenched the bag of books out of the grip of the rubble covered corpse and handed him the bag, his heart twisted and fluttered, leaving him out lightheaded, out of breath.

It didn’t go away, merely faded over time, but always returned in the presence of the demon.  It was 20 years before he admitted to himself that he knew what it was.

He blessed the Holy Water himself before he reluctantly handed it over.

******************************************************
He had got so used to hiding himself from the words he didn’t want to hear, what were a  few more to tuck away?

But the armour of faith and belief he had clad himself in, uncountable years ago, had worn paper thin, luminously fragile.  He felt it in every hitch of his breath, bask of a smile, each tremble of restraint.

He was so very very tempted. He knows want in a new way, shaped by an absence he couldn't yet define. Words were his nature, eventually the right word found its way into that empty space, but is presence only made it larger.  The word was Desire.

We always want what we can't have

Gluttony was the first of his sins that he fell into.  It led to occasion bouts of Greed, and the inevitable Sloth.

Perhaps in his Pride of his Virtue, he never should have discounted the infinite possibilities of Lust…..

A cold wind blows and it's calling my name
So I kneel down to pray

Take my breath away
Pull me down, hold me 'til I lose my faith
Take my breath away
Won't you pull me down, pull me down
Hold me 'til I lose my faith

 

****************************************************

Touch is a dangerous thing. It has no boundaries, or limitations. Casual, fleeting, accidental are all just as possible as deliberate, intentional connections.

They were always around each other now, Crowley so often there, almost inviting it, so he allowed himself the luxury.

A casual pat on the shoulder, a lean of the shoulder, a brush of the fingertips. He stockpiled each and every opportunity, held it tight and close.

It was Crowley stored away all the memories of their times together

Do you remember?
Do you remember when?
Do you remember when we?

He was instead the collector of things, places, experiences. He kept the physical reminders that tied him to the memories.

Oh yes, we got this book there!

These memories, every fleeting brush, every glancing touch, those he could recall with painful, crystal clear clarity.  Each and every one.

It began to hurt, every time they touched, a continued onslaught on the last remaining shreds of his armour, his fragile unprepared soul beset with feelings he had no defense for.

There were two untouchable truths to his existence.

Have Faith.
If you don't you will Fall.

Faith was a brittle threadbare construct after thousands of years witnessing the unjust, unkind merciless punishment meted out to humanity, narrated by an endless parade of pointed unanswerable demonic questions.

Why, Oh Lord, do you punish them? Punish me?

*********************************************

He was balanced on a knife edge, wracked with guilt, unable to balance his desires against the bone deep intrinsic terror of consequence.

Of accepting that his core beliefs could be wrong

Of becoming something else, something other

Of losing himself

Of losing what they were now to each other

Of losing the possibility of what they could become

 

So he dithered, trapped in a dilemma of his own making, unable to take the one ineffable step that would commit him down a new path.

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

Just the one who danced at arms length with a demon for 6000 years

*********************************************

He thought he had forever when a midnight phone call tilted his world of its axis just a little bit further

"We need to talk" said Crowley sounding deadly serious for a change "Its about Armageddon"

They came up with a plan so cunning, you could put a tail on it and call it a weasel.  So cunning they cut themselves on their own stupidity when it turned out they had royally fucked it up for both their sides.

The angel who had steadfastly refused to accept the dawning revelations laid out in front of him suddenly had a whole heap of ineffable fucking utter bollocks piled on top of him.

Oh so politely he tried talking, reasoning, cautiously asking Why?  Why do we have to destroy the world.

Because We Can.

Because We Want To.

Because It Is Written.

Any parent will tell you that 'cos' is not a fucking excuse for anything and Aziraphale had been parent to the earth for a very long time.

It took the Armageddon to FINALLY make him make up his mind, and he stepped of the knife edge, and literally into the fire.

He survived that too (his best ever magical trick) and here they were, toasting the End of The Beginning of the End with champagne at the Ritz as you do.

****************************************

 

He had made his choice, saved the World, defied and rejected everything that had, up til now, defined his existence.

Imagine, if you will, the slow dawning realisation that there is still one choice you need to make, the one that matters most of all.  The one that will determine whether everything he has suffered for will be worth it.

The one choice that still terrifies him, but not as much as it used to.

Because now he knows the meaning of true terror, to be without the one you love for eternity.

 

What stops him now, is not the choice he has already made, but the inability to express it.

After 6000 years and more of keeping his most inner thoughts to himself, the being who has dedicated his life to the care and maintenance of words is suddenly bereft of the ones he needs.

He knows what he needs to say, he just doesn’t know………..how.

 

All I want is just a feelin'
but I'm tangled in the web.
And I keep fightin' for the reason
in the voice that echoes in your head.

Will I fall?
Will I survive?