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Stand By Me

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"We're asking people to sign up to use just the stairs and not the lifts," the first student said hopefully and proffered a clipboard and pen. "Dr Crowley, can I sign you up?"

"No." It was instant, flat, and uncompromising.

"Dr Fell?"

"Certainly not!" he huffed. "I have no intention of giving you permission to judge and harass people."

"We're not even asking anyone who needs them to sign up," the second explained, radiating good will and smiling. "Only people who already don't use them or are too lazy to climb a single flight of stairs. We just don't want anyone to be taking advantage of the lifts when they shouldn't be..."

Dr Fell flicked the briefest of glances at Dr Crowley, who rolled his hand palm up in a discreet "go ahead, after you" signal. With that permission granted, Dr Fell placed his full attention on the two students. "On the contrary, I am quite certain that you have judged inaccurately already, and have forced at least one person into a choice between revealing private medical information and dealing with your..." He looked them up and down, and they wilted under the look in his eyes. "...harrassment. One might almost say bullying," he continued.

Crowley leaned on the wall to ease the strain on his legs from standing so long and watched as Aziraphale ripped verbal shreds off the pair in the process of lecturing them on just how many not-casually-visible reasons there were that someone might need the lifts. He was actually furious. Crowley could read that much in the set of his shoulders and the tension in his hands, but his voice wasn't raised, although it was projected clearly enough that everyone in the area could hear every single word. He even managed not to sound angry. He sounded disappointed, as if they had betrayed him, and all humanity with him and indignant that they could ever think such a thing about other people. As if they had personally hurt him or someone he loved (and nobody ever even dreams of hurting dear Dr Fell).

"That's my angel," he murmured with such utter fondness that in that moment no one hearing it would ever take him for anything but Aziraphale's other half. Unfortunately for the bettors, they were all focused on Aziraphale with shock and just a touch of fear at how much of an angel he was being, like they'd never wondered why angels had to repeat "be not afraid, fear not" constantly every time someone saw them. As if they'd never before realised that Aziraphale did it constantly too, he just did it non-verbally with his mild voice, and his gentle body language, and his soft appearance.

Crowley waited until he recognised the signs of the info-dump tailing off, and the students crumpling under the weight of it and wanting to fall through the floor to get away before he eased upright and stepped forward. He was going to hurt later, but it was worth it.

Aziraphale blinked. "You're still here?"

He twitched a shoulder in a slight shrug. "Didn't want to interrupt."

"Crowley!" It came out in a tone caught somewhere between disappointment and fond exasperation.

Crowley leaned in to confiscate the sign up forms from the students' shaking hands. "If I ever hear of anyone trying this again," he all but hissed, the words resonating clearly to everyone around, "it won't be Dr Fell you're dealing with next time. It'll be me." His thin smile was a vicious, razor-edged thing, as he leaned on his own reputation. "And I will make this," his long fingers took in the whole scene, "look like the sweetest of angelic moments. Do you understand me?" He turned a slow (he couldn't move fast right now, just as well slow was more menacing anyway) circle, giving them all a chance to nod in sheer terror. "Good. See that you remember." And with that, he sauntered off towards the lifts with Aziraphale at his heels.