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The Good, the Bad and the Ineffable

Chapter Text

This is a story about you. Surprise!

Despite your label as the 'Protagonist', your life isn't all that interesting.

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"Bloody hell woman, get OUT OF THERE!"

(E/c) shot desperately towards the familiar voice, blood trickling down your forehead as you struggled to maintain your grip on the rusty strand of metal, heartbeat pounding in your ears. "Crowley, I can't, you idiot!"

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Like most people your age, your social skills could use some work. Sure, you maintain a small group of friends, but it's difficult to branch out. According to your diary, you simply have 'better things to do'.

According to your friends, you just happen to be a dork. 

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Smoke seemed to billow from every corner and crevice as you attempted to hoist yourself onto the platform, only to freeze as the pipe began to shift, bits of debris crumbling off into the abyss down below. It took all remaining willpower not to look down at the expanse of fire and ash engulfing the crevice below, instead fixing your gaze on the blur of movement, faintly visible through the blaze as it made its way forward, footsteps bouncing harshly off burning pavement. In the distance, the desperate shouts of your demonic companion seemed to fade into oblivion, an angelic, blood-curling voice now filling your ears.

"You know it's rather fitting, actually. The fire, the panic, the fall." 

Gabriel, Archidiot of pure dickery, stood mere inches from the drop-off, observing the scene before him with a plastic smile that curled at the edges, malice spilling from the cracks like sand. Hands folded neatly, he remained standing upright, as if posing for a photograph, though his gaze remained fixed on your own. Clutching tightly to the metal bar, you met his smile with a look of disgust, desperately wishing you could flip him the bird without risk of losing your grip and plummeting into oblivion. "Gabe, sweetie, I'm not in the mood for your metaphors," you hissed, almost relishing the look of aggravation that graced his expression upon hearing the nickname. Your amusement, however, quickly turned to panic as a celestial foot violently slammed against the base of the pipe, nearly dislodging it completely as Gabriel moved in to confront you.

"Do not test me, you filthy abomination!" he spat, feathers and ash exploding into the air as his wings unfurled in one, violent motion. Well, he was definitely pissed. 

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Your taste in music borders on acceptable, holidays burn you out faster than a fifty cent candle, and your favorite color changes like the weather. Your horoscope doesn't concern you as much as it should, though you've tried understanding the whole phenomenon at least twice; once at a party, the other under the covers of your bed at two in the morning, scrolling through your mobile phone.

There's not much else, is there?

Oh, right. Your dentist happens to become a serial killer at some point in your lifetime. It's not exactly important, but it'll be a good story to tell at a party, especially after his arrest is made public. 

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Your grip on the strand of metal gradually loosened as the air around you grew thicker, nearly suffocating you as the angel lightly prodded your hand with his shoe, pondering his next move with a look of absolute glee. You prayed (well, maybe 'pray' wasn't the right word to use) your situation wouldn't play out the same way the Lion King did, with Gabriel crushing your hand and yeeting you into the afterlife, however, the archangel wasn't looking particularly merciful. 

Seeing as you had (finally) gone silent, Gabe Gabriel flashed you a triumphant smile, allowing his hands to fall to his sides. "What's wrong, (L/N), finally resigned to your fate? Or are you hoping to bide time until the rest of your little freakshow comes to save you?" You scowled at his words, memories of stupid glasses and tartan sweaters briefly surfacing as you swallowed the lump in your throat preparing for the worst. 

"They're not freaks, y'know.." you murmured under your breath, watching his eyes light up in amusement as he leaned closer. 

"I'm sorry, I missed that. What did you say?" The heat of the flames licking at your heels paled miserably in comparison to the scorching light radiating from his aura, causing you to visibly flinch as you grit your teeth.

"They're NOT freaks!"

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Other than that, nothing particularly interesting goes on. To put it simply, you're not special. Quite average, actually.

Oh, it's not an insult, if that's what you're worried about. Being average is a wonderful experience. You're born, just like everybody else.

        You grow...

                Learn...

                        Make friends.....

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A low, mocking chuckle trickled forth from his lips, filling your ears as it drowned out the distant cries of those you stood to defend. An angelic idiot, and a hellish bastard. "Oh? Then tell me. What would you call them, exactly?" Without warning, his heel dug into your hand, earning an agonized yelp as a fresh wave of pain flooded your system, tears pricking at the corners of your eyes. 

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You make some bad choices, occasionally some good ones too. You meet someone worth living for, close the gap, and continue making terrible choices. Only this time, you're not alone. 

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Desperately scrambling to maintain your hold on the crumbling perch, you bit back another cry of pain, resentment fueling your system. This poor excuse for an angel was not going to have the pleasure of making you break down. Not like this. Mustering your strength, you inhaled a shaky breath, (e/c) orbs transfixed on the monster before you with renewed confidence. If you were going to die, so be it. 

You were going to have the last word, either way. 

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Life moves by pretty quickly. You laugh, you cry, but most importantly, you live. 

That is, until you don't.

At some point, average or not, you die. That's just what average people do.

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Forcing your lips into a smirk, you shot the angel an infuriatingly smug look. "Don't you know?"

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Come to think of it, I could be wrong.

Maybe (Y/N) (L/N) isn't as average as we thought. Maybe they're more.

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"They're ineffable."

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Maybe, they're enough.

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For a split second, you watched as his expression dissolved into pure rage, a rush of satisfaction gracing your smile before it was violently ripped away by a tremendous CRACK. Without warning, you were wrenched into the air by your (now) broken hand before a large wing came pummeling into your side, knocking the wind out of you as you were forced off the ledge and into the abyss.

"Shit, NO!"

"(Y/N)!"

The screams and shouts of your friends echoed faintly in your ears as darkness invaded your vision, pain crippling your senses as you plummeted towards the fires below. This was it. 

This was how you were going to die. 

Sliding your eyes closed for the last time, you let out a hollow breath, allowing the smoke to consume you entirely. You were smiling when the world went dark.

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This is a story about you. 

Though, come to think of it... we probably should have started from the beginning.

 

**CHAPTER ONE END**

Chapter Text

Seldom throughout history does mankind forsake itself to the truth. It is for this reason that we often refer to the 'otherworldly' as simple myth, fictitious elements of aging culture designed to engage the imagination and ingrain lifelong lessons into the minds of children. It is easier, in the hearts of men, to blur the lines of human inferiority rather than to accept them; and it is for this very reason that their records remain... inaccurate. 

A striking example of this exists in the case of Familiars and their perplexing nature. The term itself derives from an inaccurate assumption as to the purpose of their creation; famulus refers to the Latin word for servant, the implications of which have continued to drive thousands of demons, monsters, and others, batshit crazy for millennia. Contrary to popular belief, 'Familiars' did not bow to the every whim of witches, nor were they born with the intention or responsibility to do so. Ancient English literature dating back to the 16th century often depicts Familiars as animals, most notably as: cats, toads, and ravens, acting to protect and serve their masters through the use of supernatural abilities. This, unsurprisingly, remains largely incorrect. 

Most Familiars of the Medieval and Early Modern periods consisted of demons or otherfolk, both of which retained their human forms for a majority of their respective 'contracts'. While some of them retained the ability to shapeshift into lesser creatures (usually to avoid detection by other humans), a majority opted to remain in their preferred, more comfortable forms. After all, being a toad is disgusting, regardless of the function it may serve. It may also help you to understand the relationship between master and Familiar does not, nor has it ever adhered to the same structure as master and servant. All humans, magic or otherwise, lack the wisdom or strength to permanently force the will of a higher power, particularly demons. 

Demons do not bow down to anyone, at least on earth. Those foolish enough to believe otherwise have rarely lived to tell the tale. 

Regardless, Familiars and their masters have been known to maintain somewhat of a symbiotic relationship, often working to achieve the same goal through cooperation, as well as a shared respect for one another. Witches may forge contracts with demons to exact revenge on a particular group or individual, bargaining a piece of their soul in exchange for assistance, while the summoning of otherfolk may require little to no sacrifice at all. If you're confused by the concept I'm referring to, that's completely normal. Humans have been confused about the complex nature of summoning and dealing with Familiars since the beginning of time. In fact, contracts remain a subject of mystery largely due to the seemingly endless array of possibilities they possess. To put it simply, humans can summon demons, demons can summon otherfolk, and otherfolk can summon whoever they see fit. Even angels, in spite of their reluctance to stray from their self-reliance, may rely on the summoning of a Familiar to accomplish a task.

However, not all contracts are made willingly. 

Within the pages of history, there lies some notion of truth in the aforementioned 'summoning of a Familiar (or lack thereof). Narratives of acclaimed 'witches' during the Early Modern Period recount Familiars surfacing from seemingly nowhere, drawn to their masters by an invisible force. Without a formal contract or reason to co-exist, neither entity may even realize a Familiar Bond is in place until all conditions are met.  This is, almost always, intentional on my behalf.

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Otherfolk: A human or human-like entity possessing unnatural qualities and abilities, most notably the ability to forge a Familiar Bond. Not to be confused with a witch, sorcerer, etc.

 

It was a windy autumn afternoon. The sky was cloudy, angels were gathered by the bridge, and you were arguing with a bird. 

Heaving a quiet sigh, (e/c) orbs traced the rippling shapes in the water as you absently tossed grapes to the ducks, lips curved into a frown. "It's all the same here, y' know? The weather, the people, the routine. Hell, even those stupid dreams remain exactly the way they were.." you muttered, indifferent to the curious glares from passersby as you continued speaking, voice glistening with disdain. "'Move to London', they said. 'It'll be a nice change of pace'. Utter bullshit, if you ask me." Your bitter remark was met with a chorus of quacking and the ruffling of feathers, several pairs of eyes resting squarely on the Ziploc bag tightly secured in your grip. Admittedly, ducks weren't the best listeners. Noisy, easily distracted, and lacking in ears, their company was mediocre at best. They were, however, much cheaper than therapy. 

Flinging a few more grapes into the water, you shifted to rest your head in your arms, bringing your knees to your chest as a cool breeze pushed stubbornly against the fabric of your coat. The day had not been kind to you thus far; another job application had been denied, your best friend was in the hospital, and the nightmares had only gotten worse.

Running a hand through (h/c) hair, you attempted to clear your head, ignoring the fleeting whispers that accompanied the blur of memories that burned in the back of your mind, begging to be freed. "No, no! We're not doing this today, I swear!" you hissed under your breath, burying your face in your arms as a string of profanity slipped loose from your lips. For months now, your sleep had been plagued with nightmares of fire and smoke, desperate voices shouting your name from a distance as you struggled to breathe through the black smog. These recurring dreams always ended the same way; piercing blue eyes burning into your gaze before shifting to gold, thus forcing you awake in a cold sweat. 

It was an overwhelming experience, to say the least. 

To make matters worse, the visions weren't restricted to your dreams, either. Before you arrived in Soho, fleeting sensations were a rare occurrence. Now, you experienced them everywhere. On the bus, at the market, even St James had become a target for inconvenient bursts of energy, flashes of fire, and the peculiar feeling you were being watched. It was as if an invisible force couldn't quite decide on whether or not to call upon you for some unearthly reason. Either fate was procrastinating, or you were crazy. Listening to the muffled chatter of passing strangers, you found yourself opting for the latter. 

By the time you lifted your head from your arms, a majority of your 'audience' had disappeared, leaving only two remaining as you winced at the prickling numbness in your leg. Without stumbling into the water, you managed to drag yourself back up the grassy slope before your other leg could fall asleep. Tossing the empty Ziploc bag into a nearby trashcan, you moved aside to make way for a passing jogger when a familiar sensation seized your chest.

Shit.

Without warning, you nearly doubled over in shock as flecks of blue danced across your vision, filling your ears with static. It was as though your veins had turned to ice, a gentle voice ringing painfully in the back of your head. 

"Oh dear, this is unexpected.."

Squeezing your eyes shut, you inhaled a shaky breath as the cold began to subside, goosebumps running alongside your arms as the voice grew louder, more panicked. 

"S-so! To what do I owe the pleasure?"

Unlike before, the voices did not disappear, nor did the suffocating feeling in your chest as it pulled you forward, beckoning you away from the water's edge. A mixture of adrenaline and impulse seemed to drive you along an invisible path, overriding your better judgment with blinding urgency. You weren't quite sure where you were going, though you couldn't imagine it being anywhere safe. Not by a long shot. 

As it turned out, your hunch was correct. 

Beyond the bridge lied a small pocket of trees, tucked away from the bustle of tourists as a small handful of people stood around, quietly sneering amongst themselves. Near the center, a man in tartan was pinned to a tree by some weirdo in a raincoat, one hand grasped around the collar of his shirt while the others watched, somewhat amused by the spectacle. Peeking around the corner, you had to bite your cheek to keep yourself from swearing. What the hell did you walk into?

The fellow at the center of it all looked fairly confused, if not mildly concerned. The apparent lack of fear in his eyes was astonishing, all things considered, and part of you (selfishly) reasoned that he probably knew what he was doing, and therefore did not require your help. It wasn't until he opened your mouth that you froze, any hope of abandoning the situation now lost as (e/c) orbs trained on his own. 

"I don't suppose we can talk this out, can we?" 

Holy shit. Without missing a beat, you stepped blindly into the clearing, hardly flinching as several pairs of eyes fell on your shaken form. There was no mistaking that voice; not after months and months of waking up to it bouncing around in the back of your skull, trying your hardest to understand what it meant. Meeting his stare, you opened your mouth to speak, voice cracking as you tried to form the words. "It's you. You're the voice from my head." 

Furrowing his brow, the man in tartan stared at you with a mixture of confusion and concern, his lips parted in silent warning before a hand landed on your shoulder and reality quickly settled in. 

"I don't know what the hell this is about, but you're in our way."

You barely had time to turn your head before your feet were ripped from the ground, surprise morphing into fear as you were effortlessly tossed aside. There was a dull thud as your head collided with a tree, pain spiraling through your body as you crumpled to the ground, stunned. Right, you forgot about the others. No sooner had you scrambled to regain your footing than the group was upon you, evidently pissed with your intervention. 

"Hastur, leave that poor child alone this instant!" protested the familiar voice, though he was quickly silenced by Rainjacket as you looked up from the grass to glimpse your attacker, a lump forming in your throat. You were going to be sick. 

The faces before you were no longer human, patches of skin missing from several places as hollow black eyes stared blankly into your own, gauging your reaction with cruel amusement as you shrunk back, mildly horrified. The one you presumed to be Hastur seemed particularly entertained by your discomfort, pale lips pulled back in an unnatural smile as he leaned closer to observe your panic. A moment of silence passed between you (during which you could've sworn a maggot poked its head between the cracks of his teeth) before he spoke, somewhat puzzled. "That's odd, you don't smell human. Not exactly angel, either." Before you had the chance to ask, a startled shout tore his attention towards the others, eyes widening in shock before Raincoat crashed into him and the two went sprawling. The remaining monsters were slow to react, though they were dealt with just as quickly; a blur of feathers forcing them aside before the man in tartan was standing in front of you, seemingly out of breath.

"Are you alright, dear? They didn't hurt you, did they?" Staring at him wide-eyed, you merely shook your head. Around you, your attackers were already beginning to stir, scrambling over one another in an attempt to lunge at the both of you. 

"You stupid creature, I'll rip you to pieces!" Hastur spat, tripping over Raincoat as he blindly swung a fist in your direction. Flinching, you instinctively stepped back to avoid the raging... creature, only to nearly stumble over another enemy. You were surrounded, frightened, and frankly more than a little overwhelmed.

Fortunately, the friendly man from your dreams was quick to pick up on your distress. With a gentle smile, he extended a hand, seemingly unconcerned with the writhing mass of rage around their feet. "I'm terribly sorry about this whole mess. Let's get you out of here, shall we?" There was something strikingly familiar about the way he smiled - as if you'd seen it hundreds of times before but never bothered to memorize the details. It drew you in quicker than you anticipated; you hardly noticed the smile tugging at your own lips until your hand was grasping his, and the world turned white.

It was as if you had touched a live wire, electricity coursing through your body as static filled your ears, every nerve and fiber of your being screaming for you to move; to fight. Without batting an eye, you whirled around to confront the man in the bowtie, only to falter as a wave of memories crashed over you. Electric blue orbs, radiating with the presence you'd only glimpsed between dreams, met your gaze with renewed determination. 

"After this is said and done," he hummed calmly, snapping his wings open. "You and I are going to have a discussion."

His name was Aziraphale, Angel of the Eastern Gate.

        And you had found him at last.

Chapter Text

"Aziraphale.."

The name had slipped from your tongue without warning, barely audible over the angry chorus of hissing and snarling that surrounded you. Hastur and his lackeys seemed to physically recoil from the angel, ivory wings flaring with a harsh light that burned at their skin, driving them back. 

"This is some sort of trick.." Hastur rasped, hatred dripping from his tone as he scrambled to stand, eyeing both of you with demonic rage. "You're not human.. you're... you tricked us!" Lips curled into a snarl, he blindly lunged forward. 

"Not so fast." There was a hideous crack as he slammed against a wall of feathers, blood splatting across the extended wing before Hastur was tossed across the clearing, landing in a crumpled heap. The angel barely had time to recover before a second demon approached from his left, nearly landing a blow to his head before a fist connected with its jaw and it went sprawling onto the grass. Huffing impatiently, the man stepped back to survey the damage, straightening his bowtie as his gaze landed on (e/c) orbs, narrowing in surprise. "What... exactly did you say a moment ago? Aziraphale, was it?"

Ah, so he had heard you, after all.

Swallowing the lump in your throat, you merely nodded your head, unable to form the right words. It was becoming increasingly difficult to focus, your thoughts drowned out by a sea of sound and color as voices pried fiercely at the back of your mind, urging you on behind a wall of static. 

'Fight..' they whispered, sending a chill down your spine as dread settled in the pit of your stomach. 'Protect him..'

The man in tartan was staring at you expectantly, concern pulling at the corners of his lips as you went rigid, abruptly breaking eye contact. In his worry, the angel had seemingly forgotten their battle, tearing his attention away from the danger in hopes of consoling the trembling mess in front of him. Reaching out a comforting hand, he hardly noticed Raincoat preparing to strike from behind until it was too late. 

Fortunately, you weren't nearly as careless.

You barely registered your feet leaving the ground. In a blur of movement, you tore past Aziraphale, (e/c) flickering an icy blue as your fingers closed around something solid. There was a flash of light, adrenaline surging through your veins before you hit your mark and a horrific scream filled your ears.

Clutched tightly in your hands was a thin blade, now firmly buried in Raincoat's chest as you stood over him, blankly observing the flash of fear that accompanied his agonized expression. 

Pin and needles coursed through your limbs as Raincoat twitched and thrashed at the opposite end of the blade. With a shuddering gasp, he attempted to wrench the sword from his chest, but to no avail. You had him pinned, exerting just enough force to cause pain without killing him instantly. Something was holding you back, fear prickling in the back of your mind as you swallowed the lump in your throat. Tightening your grip on the blade, you felt your shoulders beginning to tremble - this was wrong. You had never killed anyone before, regardless of their intentions. 

Yet here you were, dark ichor splattered across the sleeve of your coat.

The voices were quick to pick up on your hesitation. In the blink of an eye, your mind was engulfed in distant whispers, invisible fingers digging into your temple as your body tensed. 'They tried to destroy him,' they crooned, a familiar sensation rising beneath your skin. 'Make sure they never do it again.'

You bit your cheek, (e/c) orbs flitting across the ink-black liquid soaking into the lawn. This wasn't right. You felt it in your bones, the way your stomach curled at the sound of dying gasps beneath your sword. You weren't meant to hurt people. You certainly weren't meant to kill people. Forcing your eyes closed, you took a deep breath-

And pushed.

A strangled cry was cut short as Raincoat went limp under the weight of your blade. As if a spell had been broken, the static plaguing your senses dissipated completely, your knees threatening to buckle from under you as the sword vanished from shaking hands. 

"She's gone mental.." Hastur croaked nearby, staggering to his feet as the remaining demons distanced themselves, a wave of uneasiness settling over the group. One by one, they began their retreat, uninterested in meeting the same fate as their colleague. Fighting an angel was one thing; fighting a monster was another. Glancing up from the corpse, you regarded Hastur with a tired glare, vaguely aware of the darkness pulling at your vision as you stepped menacingly towards him, crushing Raincoat's hand underfoot.

"Leave, now." The words sounded foreign as they left your tongue as if they'd never belonged to you but happened to come in handy nonetheless. They were powerful, unforgiving, and Hastur knew he would not receive a second chance. With a final look of hatred, the demon vanished into smoke, the faint smell of decay still hanging in the air as you let your guard slip. Inhaling a shaky breath, you felt your shoulders loll back in exhaustion. It was finally over.

You hardly acknowledged the approaching footsteps as a hand found your shoulder, a sliver of warmth flickering through your body as (e/c) orbs shifted to glimpse familiar blue. "(Y/N), are you alright, dear?" 

'That's funny,' you thought, absently scanning his concerned gaze with a vague impression of a smile. 'I don't remember giving him my name.' Something wet was sliding down your cheek, a lump forming in your throat as you quickly wiped it away.

Were those... tears? Suddenly, you found yourself struggling to remain upright as darkness crept across your vision, threatening to drag you under. It was as if a switch had been flipped off, adrenaline turning to lead in your veins as your knees buckled, earning a startled cry from Aziraphale.

In an instant, the angel surrounded you, the smell of old books and ginger tea gracing your senses as your head fell into tartan fabric. He was saying something, however, the words were muffled and impossible to understand. You faintly registered a hint of panic in his voice, though you couldn't quite muster the strength to respond. In spite of your best efforts, the world was slipping away, (e/c) orbs fluttering closed with a quiet sigh. They were safe, weren't they? Surely he wouldn't mind if you took a quick nap.

The last thing you heard was a stranger's voice, echoing softly in the distance as panicked footsteps faded behind you.

"Angel! I came as soon as I-"

Chapter Text

For the first time in months, you did not dream.

It was strange, really. No deafening whispers or piercing stares. No glittering flames that scorched your skin or filled your lungs with smoke. This time, you had slipped out of the darkness unscathed. 

The familiar smell of old books was there to greet you upon waking, sunlight prying at your eyelids as it filtered in through a nearby window. Shifting beneath a heap of blankets, you gradually flinched away from the light, burrowing under the sheets in an attempt to sink back into a peaceful slumber. It had been ages since you'd woken up like this, unaffected by the terrors brought on by your subconscious. Perhaps the recent exertions had proven too overwhelming for nightmares to take hold; that is, if you could even call them that anymore. If your earlier 'scuffle' was any indication, your dreams were starting to resemble visions more than anything. 

Absently chewing your lip, you let out a frustrated sigh. Were visions normal for someone your age? If you had to guess, probably not. Of course, most people 'your age' didn't go around befriending angels and slaughtering demons. 

"Now, Crowley!" 

        Speaking of angels...

There was a slight twinge in your left foot as a thump sounded from beyond the door, followed by a string of muffled words you couldn't quite understand. (E/c) orbs flitting across the room, you recognized one of the voices immediately as Aziraphale's - the way it wavered with uncertainty, fragile, yet radiating with a gentle warmth. Almost instinctively, you slipped out of bed, stumbling towards the door as best you could without crashing to the floor.

Your knees felt heavy as if you had run a marathon, though you were surprisingly quick to dismiss it. Fingers curling around the doorknob, you felt a faint surge of energy as it ran through your veins, spots sauntering across your vision as something shifted downstairs.

"You can't possibly be considering such a thing!" The sudden outburst almost sent you reeling, the sheer volume of which earning somewhat of a scowl as you pushed open the door, gritting your teeth. In reality, Aziraphale's voice hadn't carried far. This time, however, it seemed to resonate from within your mind, bouncing around your skull with a considerable amount of force. 

Lovely.

The floor creaked beneath your feet as you stepped out of the dimly lit room, gaze slowly drifting towards the scene below. You were in a bookshop, crammed wall to wall in strange and familiar titles as two men gathered by the stairwell, quarreling among themselves. Neither seemed to acknowledge your presence, an air of impatience surrounding both of them as they exchanged words. 

"Oh come on, angel! As far as we know, this whole thing could be some kind of trap! An elaborate scheme to.. I don't know.. wipe us off the map!" the stranger hissed, dramatically flaring his arms. From afar, he appeared rather eccentric, unruly copper hair peeking up over thick shades that made it impossible to catch a glimpse of his eyes. Rocking back on his heels, he regarded Aziraphale with a scowl as he slouched against a shelf, brow raised expectantly. Aziraphale, unmoved by his argument, merely scoffed in his direction.

"An 'elaborate scheme', really? She's hardly moved since Tuesday!" You paused at this, fingers tentatively curling around the wooden railing as your lips drew into a frown. Were they arguing about you? Ignoring the pit in your stomach, you resisted the urge to retreat to the back room. 

"Exactly! She's biding her time; waiting till your guard is dow-"

"Crowley!" The angel had heard quite enough, hands bunched tightly into fists as he stepped towards the man in black, evidently angry. "That child has done nothing to warrant such... foolish accusations! She saved me from Hastur and those dreadful demons; the least we can do is offer her an inch of respect," he snapped, wavering slightly in his tone. You could feel his worry from upstairs, anxiety rolling off the man in waves. Evidently, he wasn't keen on lashing out at 'Crowley', uncomfortable with the way the words slipped from his mouth. 

Nevertheless, he stood his ground.

Pursing his lips, Crowley fell silent as he stared at the angel, brows knit in confusion. Suddenly, you felt like an intruder, bearing witness to something beyond comprehension and certainly none of your business. The room was quiet, and in a moment of carelessness, you stepped back, only to stiffen as your elbow bumped into a pile of loosely stacked books, sending them tumbling to the ground.

        In an instant, all eyes were on you.

                'Shit.'

Chapter Text

Within an instant, all eyes were on you.

The redhead froze, staring blankly in your direction as Aziraphale hurried up the stairs, a mixture of relief and surprise adorning his features.

"Oh, I was wondering when you were going to wake up!" he exclaimed, nearly out of breath upon reaching the top step. "How are you feeling, dear? Not too terribly, I hope." 

Sparing Crowley a glance, you offered a nervous smile. "Uh... not too shabby?" You inwardly cursed your awkwardness as the angel watched you, lips twitching with amusement. You had the faintest impression he was laughing at you, though it was hard to tell. He was simply too polite, hands folded neatly in front of him as he regarded you with a kind smile. 

"Is that so?" You felt a surge of warmth flicker through your veins as his shoulders sagged in relief. "I'm glad to hear it. You gave me quite a scare back at the park, you know," he chided softly, shaking his head in disbelief. 

At this, you felt the slightest twinge of guilt. "Well, I-"

"But nevermind that! You must be starving by now, poor dear!" Before you could finish your sentence, the man was already ushering you in the direction of which you presumed to be the kitchen. It was hard to imagine a full-sized dining space in such a cozy shop, but sure enough, wedged neatly between rows of books was a small corridor leading into a hidden parlor. 

The room itself was beautiful, bookshelves and houseplants decorated the walls, as well as a few expensive-looking paintings. Upon entering, you could see where the antique carpet bled into a more modern-looking tile, merging the kitchen with the living room. It was a strange blend of new and old, though it made sense for the angel to keep it as such. He was timeless, after all. Nothing truly stayed 'in style' when you'd lived an eternity. 

Hence, the tartan. In true Aziraphale fashion, it was everywhere; most notably, the furniture. As of right now, you were seated on a fairly unattractive couch, studying the patterned fabric with a faint smirk. Decidedly, tartan looked endearing on the angel, though it did very little for the state of this room. 

A sharp clang echoed from the kitchen, stealing your focus as Aziraphale shifted behind the counter, mumbling to himself. He'd insisted that you make yourself comfortable while he prepared something to eat, leaving you to your own devices while he sorted through the cabinets, sounding rather lost. 

"Er, (Y/N)? Would you prefer tea or hot cocoa?" he called, and you felt yourself stiffen.

There it was again. 

 "Hot cocoa would be nice," you replied after a moment or so, sinking back into the sofa with a low sigh. Between skewering a demon and falling unconscious for days on end, you hadn't found the time to formally introduce yourself to the man. The two of you were strangers, and to hear your name leave his tongue so naturally (as if he'd used it a million times before) was... odd. 

A pair of footsteps relieved you of your thoughts as Aziraphale shuffled into the room, leaning down to rest a small platter upon the coffee table. The silver was decorated with a wide assortment of fruits and cheeses, similar to the kind of spread you'd seen at parties. Muttering a quick 'thanks', you gathered a small handful of grapes from the mix, popping one into your mouth before slipping the rest into your coat pocket. 

"So... Tuesday, huh?" you hummed, (e/c) orbs flitting across the ceiling as Aziraphale retrieved your drink from the counter. There was a flicker of uneasiness in his eyes, one you could feel as he handed you the mug. 

"I'm terribly sorry you had to hear all that," he sighed, flashing you an apologetic smile. "You probably have questions... Quite a few, I imagine."

Clutching the mug in your hands, you merely shrugged. "It's alright. I'm just a little confused, that's all." 

"That's okay, dear. To be completely honest, there's a lot of unanswered questions on both sides," he chuckled softly, taking a seat beside you. There was a certain fragility in the air, silence threatening to take hold as you stared down at your drink, avoiding his gaze. 

“You said I’ve been asleep since Tuesday. And today is..?”

"Friday," he answered with a hint of concern. “You’ve been out for some time, I’m afraid. Oh, I do hope nobody’s too worried that you’ve gone missing..”

"I live alone," you reassured him, raising the mug to your lips. "Just moved to Soho, actually." From the corner of your eye, you saw his expression soften, shoulders sagging in relief. 

Admittedly, disclosing that kind of information was a bit too personal for your liking; however, it seemed to calm the man considerably, so you let it slide.

Sipping your drink, you felt the angel shift beside you. "If you don't mind me asking," he began, folding his hands in his lap. "Why did you move to Soho?"

At this, you nearly smiled. Oh, the irony.

“Just wanted to find some change, that’s all. Get away for a while," you hummed, meeting his gaze for a few, fleeting moments. You neglected to mention the nightmares or sensations. After all, you were unsure of how you'd even begin to explain them without sounding certifiably insane. Placing the drink in your lap, you briskly changed the subject. "Your friend... the one from before. Is he okay? He didn't seem too pleased with me being here."

Aziraphale sighed. "Ah yes, Crowley. I'm terribly sorry for his behavior. I can assure you, it's not your fault." Folding his hands in his lap, he looked rather defeated. "I hope he didn't offend you in any way... Dreadfully skittish, that one."

"Skittish, angel? Really?"

Your eyes snapped towards a familiar mess of copper hair as Crowley sauntered through the doorway, regarding Aziraphale with a tired sneer. "You, angel, do not get to call me 'ssskittish'." 

"Crowley! How much of that did you hear?" Aziraphale huffed, furrowing his brow. 

"Oh, just the important bits." You watched him waltz over to the couch, plucking a strawberry off the platter before abruptly taking a seat beside you. 

Huh.

He looked fairly relaxed, all things considered. Draping an arm over the back of the sofa, he seemed to melt into the ugly tartan fabric with a grumbling hiss, ignoring the pointed looks he received from Aziraphale. Without sparing you a glance, he opened his mouth to speak. "So, new girl," he drawled, pointing his nose towards the ceiling. "My friend here says you managed to kill a demon the other day. Is that true?" 

"Crowley..." warned Aziraphale.

Paling slightly, your lips drew into a frown. Right, you'd nearly forgotten about that. 

"Yeah, I suppose I did." 

Quirking a brow, Crowley almost looked impressed by your honesty. With a turn of the head, he was facing you directly, a hint of a smirk tugging at his lips. "Oh? And how exactly did they die?"

"Oh, for somebody's sake!" interjected the angel. "He didn't die! He was simply... discorporated."

"Discorporated?" you repeated in unison. Crowley sounded amused. 

You sounded completely lost.

"Troublesome creature," Aziraphale muttered, rubbing his temple. "Don't pay him any mind."

Crowley's mouth fell open in 'shock'. "Well that's not very nice," he scoffed, though he quieted down soon after. 

You felt a faint surge of warmth in your chest as Aziraphale shifted his focus to you. With a gentle sigh, he moved to rest a hand on your shoulder. "Demons aren't like humans, dear. When their bodies are destroyed, they simply return to Hell until they receive a new one. You didn't truly kill anyone, (Y/N)."

You could have sworn you'd felt Crowley flinch at the mention of your name.

Eyeing the hand on your shoulder, you met his reassuring words with a silent nod. "I'm guessing angels are the same, Aziraphale?"

The room went still.

"Ah, so back there..." he trailed off, eyes widening incredulously. "You really did speak my name."

"As did you."

 It may not have been the most formal or straightforward introduction, but it was enough. Giving your shoulder a light squeeze, there was a flash of recognition in his eyes as his lips curved into a smile. Something seemed to click between the two of you, uneasiness shifting to understanding while Crowley sat there in confusion, trying to decipher what the hell was happening.

"So, about that discussion..."

Chapter Text

Hastur, Duke of Hell, was not in a pleasant mood.

Of course, this wasn't terribly uncommon; misery seemed to accompany the demon wherever he went. Today, however, he was exceptionally pissed off.

The demon exuded anger, his lips drawn into a murderous snarl as he made his way through Hell. Failure did not sit well with Hastur, nor did it go over smoothly with Management. His orders had been to observe the pair of traitors for any potential weaknesses; not fall prey to one of their 'secret weapons'. The mere thought of the (h/c)-haired freakshow was enough to make his blood boil, knuckles clenched painfully between his teeth as he suppressed a frustrated shriek. It was all because of that cursed mortal rat that he returned empty-handed.

The lights above them flickered angrily, filling their ears with the monotonous hum of electricity. Hastur could see the familiar outline of a throne in the distance, a pang of dread settling in the pit of his stomach. Lord Beelzebub would not tolerate failure; that much was clear. If he was lucky, he'd be permitted a second chance.

If not, he feared Stolas wouldn't be the only one requiring paperwork.

With a raspy sigh, he dislodged his hand from his mouth, wiping the remaining blood and saliva against his coat. Panicked or not; he still had a report to deliver. Quickening his pace, the Duke shoved past several guards as the 'court' came into view. He recognized Dagon, as well as the unfortunate demon from the park.

Stolas had been the only casualty during their 'mission', though his discorporation was enough to earn Hell's attention. As Hastur made his way forward, he caught a glimpse of Beelzebub's expression; to say they were displeased would be an understatement. Before the Duke could so much as bow, the interrogation had already begun.

"Hastur, you better have a good explanation for thizzzz."

All eyes were on him as he lowered his head, gesturing a hand towards the Prince as a sign of respect. "Lord Beelzebub, I'm afraid there were some... complications during our operation," he rasped, barely audible over the furious buzzing of flies overhead. 

"If I'm not mizzzzztaken, I believe you were told not to engage the enemy," Beelzebub replied cooly, sinking back into their chair. "The demon Crowley izzzz too unpredictable for our forces to handle without a proper plan of attack."

"Crowley wasn't the problem," Hastur corrected. The name settled on his tongue like acid, an ugly grimace pulling at the corners of his mouth as he recalled the cold-blooded bastard from before. "The angel was alone when we located him."

The Prince narrowed their eyes. "And? Did he put up a fight?"

"Not until it showed up, no," he grumbled, letting his shoulders sag. "Something strange managed to intervene before we could discorporate him." From the corner of his eye, he saw Stolas shift uncomfortably, instinctively sheltering an invisible wound with his arm. "We thought it was just another human. Turns out we were wrong."

Several hushed murmurs fell over the room as the buzzing grew louder. Without batting an eye, Beelzebub leaned forward, gripping the arms of the chair with an uncomfortable amount of force. "What exactly wazzzzz it, then?"

"I'm not sure. Their powers were ethereal, yet something else entirely. If they're an angel, they're unlike any angel we've ever seen," he admitted. "They summoned a weapon during our fight. Managed to discorporate Stolas with it, but seeing as his soul is still here-"

"The weapon wasn't holy," concluded Dagon. The Lord of the Files had stationed themselves beside the throne, quietly taking notes when Hastur's report suddenly piqued their interest. With a shark-like smile, they hardly seemed to notice their newfound place in the spotlight, focusing their gaze Beelzebub. "Perhaps they've gone rogue?" 

"Satan forbid that'zzz the case, but it'zz pozzzible," the Prince droned, resting their chin against their hand. Beelzebub was not fond of the idea that a third traitor could be wreaking havoc on Earth. As far as they were concerned, trouble for Heaven was agreeable so long as it didn't result in further paperwork for Hell. According to Hastur, however, this was not the case. With a frustrated sigh, the Lord of Hell slumped back in their chair, ignoring the pointed stares directed their way as they weighed their options. They needed more information, and soon.

"Lord Beelzebub, if I may-" Hastur began, though he was swiftly interrupted by a wave of their hand.

"Silenzz! You will be given a chance to fix your mistakezz when the time comezzz. For now, you're dismizzed," With a sharp nod, they gestured towards the door.

Hastur quickly complied.

Once the Duke had made his exit, Dagon's pen and paper vanished in their hands. With a rasping sigh, they leaned back on their heels, eyeing the Prince with a curious look. "I take it you have a plan, then?" 

"Zzzsomething of the sort. Do we still have access to the backchannel?"

"Yes, my Lord." 

"Good. I want you to contact Michael and explain the situation," they hummed, narrowing their eyes. "I have a feeling they might know more than we do."

"And if not?"

"Well, I'm zzzzertain they won't be pleazzed."

There was a flicker of something in Dagon's gaze, a crooked smile tugging at the corners of their mouth. This was going to be interesting.

Chapter Text

In the Beginning, there was a garden. 

        And in this garden, there was a wily old serpent, as well as a Principality on apple tree duty. 

Catching up on the last 6000 years had been an ordeal. You had spent the last three hours listening to the life story of a being whose existence preceded mankind while the Serpent of Eden slouched beside you, occasionally shifting between gawking up at the ceiling and staring at you from the corner of his eye. 

Admittedly, Aziraphale was an engaging storyteller. Despite his frequent tendency to stutter and pause, you could see his eyes light up in excitement whenever he remembered some striking detail or thrilling scene. These moments often sent a twinge of emotion through your chest, whether it be apprehension or content, and you found yourself reliving the world as it has been centuries before. 

The angel, however, had a difficult time getting his point across, which is why you were stuck beside an impatient demon for three hours before Armageddon was even vaguely mentioned. You could feel Crowley’s eyes burning holes in the back of your head throughout most of ‘The Nanny and the Gardner’. Whenever you turned to look at the serpent, his gaze was suddenly pointed elsewhere, dismissing your own as if you were invisible.

It was offputting, to say the least, though you eventually decided to ignore it.

It wasn't until the part with the flaming Bentley that your patience began to waver, a sliver of uneasiness gripping your senses as his stare lingered, hidden behind those strange glasses of his. You could have sworn you felt him inch closer, the sofa shifting beneath you as Aziraphale's words faded into a dull hum. Feeling rather uncomfortable, you cleared your throat, just loud enough for the serpent to hear. 

"Hm?"

Crowley regarded you with an absent hum, his brow raised in confusion. With a quiet sigh, you shot him a quizzical look, lightly nudging his foot with your own. 

'What are you staring at me for?' you mouthed silently, trying not to draw Aziraphale's attention. Pulling his foot away, the demon merely scowled, though he didn't look away this time. Instead, Crowley reached for his glasses, lowering them just enough to meet your eyes.

Almost immediately, you felt yourself stiffen.

Whatever he said next was completely lost as you stared into pools of gold, invisible flames licking at your skin as a familiar terror wormed its way into your heart. Suddenly, the air in your lungs turned to smoke, Aziraphale's voice crumbling into screams as flashes of blue and yellow swarmed your vision. 

"(Y/N)?"

Swallowing the lump in your throat, you couldn't quite tear yourself from Crowley's stare. You were overwhelmed by a sea of emotions, many of which were not your own. With a hushed whimper, you felt your fingers as they dug into your arm, trying to ground yourself before the screaming became unbearable. 

"Dear girl, is everything alright?" 

You nearly jumped as a hand found your shoulder, gently pulling you from your thoughts. By the time you remembered to breathe, Crowley had already slipped his glasses back on and shifted to the opposite side of the couch, visibly unnerved by your expression. 

"I... um..." you flinched at how small your voice sounded as you glanced back at Aziraphale. "I just need some fresh air, sorry." 

Without waiting for a reply, you slipped out of his hold, stumbling out of the room before either angel or demon could react. You felt bad for leaving so abruptly, however, you were dangerously close to blinking back tears. With a shaky sigh, you scanned the upstairs for a place to cool down, eventually deciding on a cozy-looking spot by the window.

"God, I'm pathetic," you mumbled, sinking back against the wall. You could hear Aziraphale from the salon, scolding a confused sounding demon as muted footsteps paced restlessly in the distance. From the sound of it, Crowley was being accused of 'intimidating' you, an idea that filled you with a mixture of guilt and mild disbelief. 

The shape of his eyes had not alarmed you in the slightest. Compared to the hollow pits belonging to Hastur and the others, you found the snake-like pupils intriguing, if not beautiful. Besides, Aziraphale had told you outright that the man was a demon; further proof of this fact didn't frighten you any more than the hair on his head or the crease of his brow. 

It was the color that sent you into a panic. Locking eyes with the vibrant hue had been like flipping a switch, opening the floodgates for a torrent of memories that existed only in your dreams. It was terrifying, having your nightmares come to life in the presence of complete strangers. It left you feeling helpless, uncertain of what was real and what was not. Part of you was tempted to flee the bookshop there and then, and for a moment you entertained the idea of returning home where you could pretend none of this ever happened. 

Of course, deep down, you knew this wasn't an option. Even if you were selfish enough to abandon your new angelic friend, you had no way of protecting yourself if Raincoat's buddies from the park decided to turn up again. Running a hand through (h/c) hair, you brought your knees to your chest as a shuddering breath escaped your lips. You refused to cry in this godforsaken place, not after everything Aziraphale had done for you. 

No, you were going to pull your shit together and explain yourself properly this time. After all, if the angel was willing to share the last six thousand years of his life, surely you could spare the last few months. As if on cue, you were greeted with a sudden wave of concern as Aziraphale stepped into the room, his gaze instantly resting on your still-shaken form. 

"(Y/N)?" Snapping your head up, you met his worried stare with a half-smile. 

"Hey, Aziraphale."

Gradually pushing yourself away from the wall, you straightened your posture in an attempt to look a little less pitiful. 

"I hope you don't mind if I join you," the angel hummed, wringing his hands nervously as he made his approach. It was clear from his expression the man was hesitant, fearful he might scare you off somehow. 

Feeling a pang of guilt, you quickly shook your head. "N-no, not at all." There was a flicker of warmth as his gaze softened, shoulders relaxing as he moved to take a seat beside you. Once settled, he let out a quiet sigh.

"I must admit, I'm not entirely sure what happened back there," he began, carefully folding his hands in his lap. "If Crowley did anything to scare you, I can assure yo-"

"It's not his fault," you swiftly interjected. "Neither of you did anything wrong, I'm just..."

"Just what, my dear?"

Steeling your nerves, you forced yourself to meet his eyes, fighting the urge to push back before the words could even leave your mouth. It didn't matter if he believed you or not; you were tired of pretending it was nothing.

"Aziraphale, I need to tell you something," you admitted quietly, biting your cheek. "It's strange and confusing, and I don't understand it one bit but you deserve to know about them."

The angel paused, acknowledging your urgency with a mixture of surprise and confusion.

"The dreams – well, visions, whatever. I've been having them for months now. They're why I recognized your voice at the park; why I panicked when Crowley showed me his eyes. I saw them and suddenly I was back in the fire with you and him a-and.." you paused to take a breath, hastily wiping your eyes before Aziraphale could notice your tears. Damnit, why were you getting so worked up about all of this? 

Swallowing the lump in your throat, you continued. "I just figured it was my imagination acting up again, y'know? That I was just stressed out and needed to take a step back. I never thought any of it was real."

It was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain your composure. The angel was too quiet, too composed. He didn’t seem appalled or even slightly suspicious, and it broke you to think you'd punished him by coming here; that perhaps your arrival meant the nightmares were real and Aziraphale would suffer as a result. He was far too kind for that. For you.

"I-I never thought I'd end up disrupting the lives of actual people," you breathed, flinching at how your voice crumbled away like ash. "But now I'm here, intruding on your thoughts, your emotions, your home. I didn't mean to, I p-promise I-"

You felt a pair of arms surround you as you were swiftly pulled into a warm embrace, effectively silencing any attempt at an apology. 

"Hush now, there is no need for any of that," he chided softly, and you let yourself sink into the soft fabric of his coat. Closing your eyes, you let out a muffled sob, overwhelmed by the familiar pull of his aura as it enveloped your own, sheltering you from harm. "You've done nothing wrong, my dear, understand?"

You were trembling now, trying desperately to hold yourself together in the presence of a being you had practically killed to defend mere days before. You must've looked pathetic in his hold, unraveling at the slightest hint of compassion. Vision blurred with tears, you glanced up from his shoulder to glimpse a speck of copper in the doorway, watching from afar as another choked sob fought its way forward.

"I s-shouldn't... I don't know why I'm crying," you managed through short hiccups. 

"(Y/N), try and breathe for me, alright? You're confused, and a little scared, that's all. It's perfectly normal to feel that way after everything that's happened." With a soft hum, Aziraphale ran a tentative hand through your hair, uncertain as to whether the contact would be welcomed or not. You didn't seem to mind, however, and he relaxed his arm. "It is entirely human, and certainly not something you should be apologizing for."

The more you listened to him speak, the easier it became to breathe. Blinking away your tears, you felt your shoulders lose their stiffness, relaxing slightly as exhaustion swept over you like a silent wave. Grief turned to relief, self-loathing turned to gratitude and the pain in your chest was drowned out by the steady drum of your heartbeat. You could sense his emotions melding with your own, working to stabilize your mind rather than overwhelm it. For the first time in a while, you felt safe. You felt at home.

Aziraphale continued. "I may not have all the answers, but that doesn't mean I don't wish to help you the best I can. When you're ready, we'll find a way to figure this out together. How does that sound?"

Though no sound left your mouth, he could see the way your gaze softened with appreciation, the faintest trace of a smile gracing your features as you gave a delicate nod.

The angel smiled back, and all was good.