As humans developed their spears, their catapults, their cannons, and finally their nuclear warheads, so too did Heaven and Hell amass their own arsenal over millennia. Eventually both sides downsized upon realizing humanity's methods could kill both human and supernatural much more efficiently than any of their ideas ever could.
Still, God is nothing if not a traditionalist. Nothing satisfies more than delivering judgment personally to Her. So, countless times throughout history, one angel was sent to enact God's punishment.
Her holy, terrifying will set onto the Earth and upon those She found unworthy of continued existence.
Like a well aimed cannon, all Heaven had to do was point and fire.
It has been only a year since Aziraphale and Crowley had retired in a rather unorthodox way from their respective posts.
While neither side has forgotten this, it doesn't mean they have attempted to do anything about it just yet. A year is nothing to them, they can wait as long as they need to for justice, after all.
"Gabriel has done his part as far as I am concerned," Michael declared coolly, looking down at the map below her, small armament figures of white and black across the map of what appeared to be the universe. If Uriel looked closely, they would have considered the whole setup akin to a human war game. Odd. "He has a weakness that the other non-combatant angels suffer from and between him and Raphael I cannot tell who is more useless to the Great Plan," Michael stops her talk to make note of a movement across the map.
Uriel watches Michael's quill move across a sheet of paper absently. While it is true their brother is a mere proxy in which the rest of the Archangels' decisions are voiced, calling his retreat from Aziraphale's punishment a weakness could be considered an extreme approach...
Saying this to the Archangel that felled Lucifer from Heaven would not be wise, Uriel admits to themselves.
"You gave him a chance to lead, but perhaps he is best left delivering the Good Word," is all Uriel drones, circling around to the other side of the desk where Michael stands, trying to see the Great Plan from the holy commander's perspective.
"Obviously so. If there had been the Great War like there was supposed to, perhaps that fool could have been useful for once," Michael hissed, clenching her fists hard enough to send sparks across the desk. Uriel only blinks, resisting the urge to shiver in the presence of the Archangel's anger.
Instead they glance back to the desk, nonplussed as the pieces sprawled across Michael's battle map begin to shift on their own. "He couldn't even smite a lowly principality," Michael continues, eyes going distant, sparks intensifying enough to make Uriel step back.
"That was to be a smite? God has not authorized a smite in several millennia," Uriel says slowly, watching the other Archangel. At once the sparks from Michael's hands stop, and she glances to Uriel briefly, then back to her map.
"Correct, Uriel," Michael rests a hand against her forehead. "A smite would need to be carried by those ordained to do so, after all..."
A silence falls.
Something in Uriel tells them that Michael is about to order their dismissal. Before this happens, Uriel pulls away and begins to make their way to the door.
"...Send in Sandalphon, would you, Uriel?" Michael whispers, just loud enough for the other Archangel to hear, and this time Uriel cannot suppress the shiver down their spine.
From her desk, Michael waves a hand over the center of the map, a white lightning bolt shaped piece materializing. She grins as the other pieces begin to retreat.
Aziraphale woke to sunlight on his face, but the real warmth was pressed along his back, wrapping him in the most comfortable embrace. He buries his smile in the pillow, knowing that even if they exist for an eternity he'll never get tired of this, this sensation of being so loved.
"Good morning, angel," Crowley shifts behind him, sleep thick voice making the words elongate on his serpentine tongue. Aziraphale rubs the drowsiness from his eyes, feigning annoyance with Crowley until the demon grunts, wrapping his arms tighter around the soft curves of his mate.
The angel stretches in Crowley's embrace, not bothering to avoid wriggling against the lithe demon's form and smiling at the hum of pleasure he hears behind him.
"Do you have any objections to staying in bed a little longer before breakfast?" Crowley hisses, a fang catching the lobe of his ear while long hands slide down the front of Aziraphale's soft body, gripping those inner thighs to spread them making Aziraphale moan, flushing hotly.
"It-" he gasps as Crowley turns him onto his back and pulls himself to hover over Aziraphale. To his surprise the demon already vanished his clothes. A wicked grin stretches Crowley's face before he steals a kiss, quickly wedging a long leg between thick thighs and pressing them both down into the soft sheets. Aziraphale runs his hands up Crowley's firm chest, down his sides, anywhere he can touch as Crowley deepens the kiss, catching the angel's bottom lip between his teeth making Aziraphale buck against him.
Crowley slides his mouth along the side of Aziraphale's cheek, down to the juncture of his neck, nipping gently while his hand teases the angel's arousal through the front of his night trousers. Aziraphale writhes under the demon's attentions and Crowley stops, taking a moment to breathe in the intoxicating, comforting smell that is uniquely Aziraphale.
Crowley growls as it inflames some primal part of him, having Aziraphale in his arms smelling of home and warmth and mate.
"It- it is a Sunday, shop's closed," Aziraphale tries again, shuddering when Crowley's hands slip underneath his shirt to grasp warm skin. "So there is no real need to be - ah - hasty..."
Finally given permission, Crowley's fingers make quick work of the angel's sleep clothes before running his hands up along those arms to grip Aziraphale's wrists, stretching them gently above their heads as he undulates between Aziraphale's thighs. "Then I will take as much time as I please, angel," Crowley grins, golden eyes alight with a fire that makes the angel beneath him shiver before he swallows Aziraphale's moans with another kiss.
Everything is an art if you believe so, Sandalphon has found to be true.
Long ago the Almighty had sung him into existence with what others called the most painful song She has ever emit. Apparently her reverb shook Heaven's walls for centuries, the feathers of all the angels trembling upon their wings. From Her pain, it is written, her greatest weapon was created.
If he listened closely, at times, he can even hear Her humming along whenever his lightning struck true, whenever his flames consumed another of Her Children.
His hand flicks the globe a bit quicker, eyes darting across the blue and green impassively. Most of his work has been grown back over, healed by millennia but the earth never truly forgets his fond visits, does it. The Great War would have been a lovely muse for this canvas... oh the carnage he could have inflicted in the name of the Almighty.
Yes, a finger taps the little island in that familiar northern sea, if you believe everything is an art, then destruction must be as well.
And he is quite the artist.
Crowley does not like the storm clouds gathering overhead.
In the other dimension he can feel his many eyes creaking open, his wings fluttering about in an attempt to blow back the wind lashing at his face. London has storms, but nothing like this, he considers as his eyes drop to the Bentley parked across the street. He had been planning to take Aziraphale out to get more of those pastries he liked from that bakery across town. So much for that.
Aziraphale will never get in the car with him while it's raining.
"Aziraphale," he calls from the open door, listening as the angel comes shuffling to the front. At once he winches his occult form back into obscurity, away from the angel's delicate senses whenever either of them reached into the other dimension. "Looks like our plans are cancelled for the day," Crowley says, a bit apologetic.
"Oh dear please shut the door," Aziraphale comes up beside him though, hand on his arm. "That's a shame, but we have time once the storm passes." Crowley hums, and reaches back to drape an arm over Aziraphale's shoulders, eyes still on the clouds.
‘Come, let's go back and rest.’ He hears Aziraphale's touch telling him.
Crowley registers the contact dimly, but doesn't tear his eyes from the sky turning dark above London. A familiar sense of foreboding is upon them, and he cannot shake the feeling that something has gone terribly wrong.
"Angel," Aziraphale's shuffling beside him stops, he knows that tone of voice anywhere. The demon turns to look down at him, face unreadable, eyes obscured by those dark lenses.
"What would you say to a holiday?"
Aziraphle, despite his tendency to feign resistance at Crowley's ideas on principle, knows when Crowley is imploring the angel for a good reason. The demon undoubtedly knows the sway he holds over Aziraphale, but not once has it ever been used against him like so many others in Heaven would have tried to do.
Besides, they do need a holiday, he just didn't need to deliver it so gravely. ‘Such a gloomy demon,’ Aziraphale cannot stop his fond smile, working on folding one of his vests to set in the suitcase atop their bed. Crowley had gone out to grab a few items for their trip, but Aziraphale wasn't quite sure of why the rush to get out of London.
Something in the other dimension ripples through the streets of Soho, powerful enough to make Aziraphale's celestial form shudder.
"What on earth?" He asks aloud. Without warning the sensation fades, as though a wave had rushed over him, except he never felt the end of it.
Perhaps a miracle being performed? If so it's an odd time of day for that, Aziraphale ponders, wondering if any other angels were assigned to this area before deciding it wasn't his business anymore. They were soundly retired thank you very much.
He shakes his head and pauses from packing to straighten back up, listening carefully as the sounds of the bookshop shifting reverb through his ears.
'Just the shop settling,’ he tells himself slowly, turning to the other side of the bed where Crowley's bag is set already packed. He smiles at seeing only items Crowley had thought Aziraphale might want for the trip and not a stitch of his own clothing.
Humming to himself, Aziraphale packs a few of Crowley's items into it before tugging the bag's zipper.
A ripple runs up his back.
Downstairs, the bell over the bookshop's locked door chimes.
Aziraphale does not know when he blacked out, the door chime still ringing through his head, or how he ended up sitting down and his overcoat removed. He comes to with an ache behind his eyes as he blearily recognizes the backroom of his shop, cramped and hot and stacked high with books.
His head is hanging to his chest, and the floor around him is decorated with complex white chalk lines, surrounded by an ornate circle border.
Aziraphale tries standing only to find his hands cinched painfully to the back of the chair, and a lash of fear flares up his spine.
‘What is this?’ He questions when the force of another being ripples into his space making him gasp for air, his celestial form writhing from the contact.
"Welcome to, principality," comes a slow, neutral voice.
Aziraphale winces, catching his breath as the pressure retreats. "Who--" He struggles, lifting his head to a sight that makes his mortal heart stop.
"Humans have come up with interesting means of delivering justice," Sandalphon begins as he finishes the glyph on the floor, leisurely in his work. He does not bother to look at Aziraphale and it makes the angel's stomach flood with ice.
"What is the meaning of this!" Aziraphale shouts, ire building. "You know you are not supposed to be here!" To make his point, Aziraphale reaches into his celestial form, casting his Aspect out only to hit an invisible wall making him jerk back, slamming into his mortal body. His eyes widen then drop back to the floor, the markings sharpening in focus.
The Archangel smiles, gold flaked teeth flashing, wagging a finger at Aziraphale. Suddenly the presence is back, creeping along the walls of the room and into Aziraphale's field of vision. He feels it compress on him and his celestial form, binding him to the floor.
'This can't be happening,' Aziraphale thinks frantically.
"I remember the days of the guillotine, of the iron maiden. During those days I barely had to lift a finger for an entire city God had chosen to be destroyed, its streets flooded with corpses. Of course now they have missiles, but where's the personal touch in that..." The Archangel had sounded almost wistful regarding the human inventions as he circles behind Aziraphale now, hands clapping onto the trembling angel's shoulders like a vice.
The Archangel's thumbs run along the sides of Aziraphale's neck, a mockery of the caresses Crowley gave him just this morning and bile rises in Aziraphale's throat but he cannot bring himself to speak. They stay like that for a long, agonizing moment with Sandalphon humming a low, terrifying melody until he angles his thumbs along the cords of Aziraphale's neck and scratches.
Aziraphale writhes in the Archangel's unforgiving grip, hot blood oozing down his neck, soaking the pale vest and shirt he was wearing a dark sticky red.
'Crowley loves this shirt on me,' his eyes close, not fully believing what is happening, unable to process the searing pain running straight up to his head.
"I miss the way they would scatter, beg the Almighty for mercy," Sandalphon continues calmly, thumbs still running along the gouges in Aziraphale's resisting neck, smearing blood and tearing through his flesh deeper deeper--
After what seemed like an eternity the thumbs are pried from the grooves they've made in Aziraphale's skin, both hands retreating back to his shaking shoulders and Aziraphale sucks in a breath. The fingers are tapping a jaunty little beat now along the bunched muscles, as if the Archangel is in thought.
Aziraphale is trembling, sweating now, every hair on the back of his neck raises in terror when Sandalphon dips beside his ear.
"Sandalphon," Aziraphale fights to keep the fear from his voice, eyes going bleary from blood loss. "Whatever this is - what is this? Why are you here-" A click of the Archangel's tongue and Aziraphale finds himself silenced, now frantically trying to call upon his wings only for them to refuse to answer him.
"I have greatly missed having a hand in divine punishment, you know." Sandalphon only whispers, squeezing down hard on both of Aziraphale's shoulders, grinning as the angel struggles against the digging, the grinding of his joints underneath Sandalphon’s relentless grip when--
Aziraphale howls into the gag eyes watering in blinding pain. With a sickening pop his arms go slack from dislocation, and he sags in the chair. Sandalphon moves to face Aziraphale, looking down as the angel's head lolls against his chest briefly.
The Archangel doesn't pause, reaching out to jam his hands into Aziraphale's stomach, working his fingers into the soft skin until they hook on the angel's ribs and then Sandalphon is pulling-
'Crowley where are you?!' Aziraphale screams into their bond, sobbing when it shatters against the glyph's barrier.
"Please," he begs into the gag, tears now flowing as his cracked ribs painfully expand against shallow breaths, the blood from his neck spreading all the way down to his stomach.
He's going to die here, he's certain of it.
Sandalphon wrenches Aziraphale's chin up, grinning at the terror he finds in those pale blue eyes, his thumb smears a shock of red along that trembling lip.
"Oh yes," Sandalphon murmurs, eyes flashing white as he brings the other hand up, fingertips glowing hot. "I have greatly missed the personal touch of this." Aziraphale can only stare, everything in him now begging--
Crowley's voice calls from the front door and Sandalphon halts, shoving Aziraphale back.
‘Thank you thank you,’ Aziraphale sobs with relief, now too tired to hold it back even as his chest burns in agony.
The Archangel straightens up, fingers dimming to their natural hue. Crowley calls again, this time questioning and even through his worsening haze Aziraphale can hear the demon‘s quickening movements.
"Unfortunate," Sandalphon says idly, cracking his neck as he lingers in front of Aziraphale. "But I do so enjoy a work in progress." Without sparing a glance down at Aziraphale, still tied to the chair, Sandalphon takes his fist and slams it down onto Aziraphale's left knee.
Aziraphale screams at the shattering of bone, nearly whiting out, his wings frantically trying to break from the other dimension but held back by the intensely glowing glyph on the floor still.
The Archangel tuts, moving his hand to the other knee, and the force of Sandalphon's blow knocks the chair off balance sending Aziraphale to the ground with a loud thud, slamming his head against hard wood.
Now Crowley definitely heard that. "Aziraphale!" Aziraphale can feel the vibration of the demon's footsteps heading towards the backroom.
Sandalphon hums in displeasure, looking down his nose at the writhing principality, eyes gleaming in a way that makes Aziraphale shudder. With a wave of his hand, Aziraphale feels a vanishing of the glyph from the floor and Sandalphon is stepping over the prone angel.
"Another time, then," is all the Archangel says before dissipating in a flash of white, leaving Aziraphale sobbing on the floor trying to wrangle his hysteria in. Not a moment after Sandalphon vanishes Crowley slams through the door, tearing it right off the hinges and casting his wings about, his demonic presence screaming through the room sending papers fluttering around them.
"Aziraphale where are-!" He gags at the acrid smell of lightning and blood in the air before he spots Aziraphale, eyes bleeding into gold but only seeing red.
'He's bleeding he's hurt,' Crowley numbly thinks, mind on the verge of collapsing.
Crowley runs over to Aziraphale dropping to the ground over him. "Oh, Aziraphale," he moans, reaching out only for Aziraphale to flinch away, wheezing in frantic breaths, each limb contorted at painful angles.
"Crow--" Aziraphale mumbles from his gag, face pale, streaked with blood and tears.
"Shh shh, I'm here," he tries, vanishing the ropes and gag while pulling Aziraphale away from the chair with as much gentleness as he can muster. No matter how careful he moves Aziraphale whimpers, arms twitching as he struggles to get away from Crowley and the pain. Crowley's eyes dilate in concentration, and he hears the creaking of bones as both of Aziraphale's arms roll back into their joints. Aziraphale gasps out a sob at the settling of his shoulders but the severe pinch in his face has lightened slightly.
"There we go, see angel? It's me just me," Crowley murmurs urgently, eyes taking in every part of Aziraphale's broken figure. "Let me help you, just a moment."
Aziraphale has finally stopped resisting, chest heaving from the effort, but Crowley suspects it is only due to exhaustion. He probably can't even hear me, Crowley realizes wildly.
With a thin hand he gently presses his fingertips to Aziraphale's neck, heart breaking as his mate trembles with fear, eyes squeezing shut. "It's okay love, I'm not going to hurt you," Crowley whispers, eyes flashing as his pupils dilate then contract to slivers, energy pouring slowly into the wounds. In his occult form's eyes he can see each tear in the angel's perfect skin, and with the patience of a surgeon he stitches the long gouges shut until all that is left is angry red lines along Aziraphale's neck. It's all he can do for them now, too much occult energy can overwhelm an angel, especially in such a condition.
Aziraphale's bleeding has stopped but now they have to get the rest of him healed.
Crowley growls, looking around for an idea. He doesn't want to miracle Aziraphale in such a condition, not until he knows what happened and why he couldn't feel the angel's presence until just a few moments ago. It felt as though Crowley had reached out into their bond and found just silence-
"I'm going to lift you now and bring you upstairs," He murmurs low to Aziraphale, running a hand through his hair as he holds the angel close. "I will get you up there as fast as I can but I need you to trust me."
Aziraphale is moaning low, shivering in pain and what the demon thinks is the beginnings of shock, but the angel jerkily nods and Crowley moves quickly. Fanning his midnight wings, he gathers Aziraphale in his arms and shoots out from the backroom towards the stairs on the other side of the shop.
He sets light footsteps upon the stairs, letting his wings carry the majority of their weight so that Aziraphale is not jostled as they ascend. Along the way all Crowley can do is whisper comfort into Aziraphale, not sure what he is saying anymore but knowing they both need to hear it.
Eventually they reach their bedroom and with every ounce of gentleness in his spirit Crowley sets Aziraphale upon the bed, sheets still rumpled from their earlier lovemaking. He miracles several pillows to angle Aziraphale up for ease and immediately the angel's breathing seems to even out.
Crowley swallows his resolve and tears his eyes from Aziraphale's exhausted, flushed face. His own hands feel numb and awkward, he doesn't even know where to start. So many parts of Aziraphale are hurting but the angel is counting on him.
"Aziraphale," he whispers, and he can feel Aziraphale's eyes on him, his celestial form flickering out from the other dimension, wounded and waiting. "I'm going to start now, okay?" He sounds weak even to himself, and Crowley wants to tear the entire physical dimension asunder.
So Crowley gets to work, peeling the blood soaked clothes from Aziraphale, opening the vest and shirt to reveal pale white skin and...
Crowley nearly bites through his tongue at the enormous dark bruises along Aziraphale's lower ribs. They were definitely broken, at least three on each side.
Pouring more energy into his hands, enough to turn them black up to the elbow, he reaches forward and wills the bones to stitch back together one by one. He can't do anything but set them and will them into staying as the angel's body naturally tries to heal.
With a snap of his fingers a series of ice packs appeared on the nightstand and Crowley set them carefully along Aziraphale's chest, closing his eyes at the angel's relieved sigh. He reached up to stroke Aziraphale's hair, pressing a kiss to it, before passing a touch over the dark gash on his forehead, closing it to a pale pink.
"We're almost done, let me take a look at your legs okay?" Crowley pulled away to check Aziraphale's face. His eyes were beginning to unfocus from stress, but the daze of pain was dulling bit by bit and it was enough to keep Crowley determined.
Crowley vanished the angel's trousers and hissed at the further bruising, black mottling Aziraphale's legs from mid-thigh to his shin. Both knees were swollen, perhaps the only thing keeping them in the right position.
He reached for one leg, blackened fingers delving past the damaged skin to let him find each shattered bone fragment and torn tendon.
Fixing the complex structures of both knees was slow, and Crowley labored for hours as Aziraphale phased in and out of consciousness. It was almost midnight by the time every injury on Aziraphale was at a point Crowley could be satisfied with.
There was a limit to how much he can pour into a body already at its breaking point, but for now Aziraphale will be safe.
Crowley looked up from his work on Aziraphale's body to see that Aziraphale had finally succumbed to a lasting sleep. Every dark part of Crowley whispered for him to leave the shop, to track down the source of that lightning scent still lingering in the backroom, to hunt them to the ends of the earth, to storm both Heaven and Hell.
For now, all he wanted to do is be here for Aziraphale the way he wasn't earlier.
With a tired snap, Crowley miracled a chair, and dropped himself into it.
At Aziraphale's side Crowley began his watch, gloomy yellow eyes fixated unblinkingly to the angel's sleeping form. In the other dimension his axis of eyes ticked around him slowly not unlike a clock while Crowley sat patient, waiting for Aziraphale to wake up.