It’s been three years since the trial and the body-switching and the attempted murder, and they’ve been found out. Neither Aziraphale nor Crowley expects to be practically assaulted when the two of them head out together for a walk in the park. Not when they’ve been safe - or at least felt safe for so long. Yet Aziraphale barely has a moment to think as something clouds his vision and he opens his eyes to the shiny radiant white of Heaven.
“Come along,” Michael says, and that’s all Aziraphale gets. He’s worried for Crowley, worried that as he’s just- wandering around Crowley is being melted alive. He’s lead to one of the edges of Heaven, and he’s not really sure what’s happening until Michael turns to look at him, her eyes cold and dark. “Show me your wings.” She says. Then it hits him like the Bentley hitting that pedestrian.
When Aziraphale leaves Hell, his wings are a shiny black, and he can still feel them burning. He can’t retract them – they're terribly broken, and Aziraphale is still too soft to subject himself to that much pain, even if it means that he gets plenty of strange looks from people passing by. He can’t think to care. His head is a fuzzy mess. It’s like being drunk and having a hangover at the same time.
Aziraphale wanders back to the bookshop, and he can still feel himself burning. He walks slowly up the stairs, his snapped wings dragging along the steps in a way that is immeasurably painful, and yet somehow, he still can’t manage to figure out a way to pick them up without making them hurt worse.
He glances half-heartedly at the full-body mirror that is really Crowley’s but has made its way into the room over the years. He frowns at the way he seems to have subtly shifted, how his eyes are set deeper and how his hair is just slightly greyer.
He collapses down onto his bed - a mistake, given the state of his wings, but he doesn’t care enough yet to move – and stares up at his ceiling and waits for Crowley. It doesn’t occur to him that that’s what he’s doing, but after several hours of simply laying there and examining every knot in the wood of his ceiling, he manages to get his head to straighten out enough that he realizes that Crowley might not be coming back.
The thought is enough to shake him into a more conscious state. He tries reading for a while, and then the more physical task of cleaning in a valiant effort to forget that thought until the bell hanging above the door chimes softly. Aziraphale doesn’t think he’s ever been anywhere so quickly.
And there he is, all sharp angles and straight edges. He looks downright disconsolate before he looks up and sees Aziraphale. Crowley smirks, but it’s not one of his “look-at-me-I'm-so-clever" smirks. Nor is it an “I-have-a-plan-the-best-plan" smirk. There’s something about it that’s strangely ineffable, and Crowley’s eyes still hold in them misery and despair.
“Crowley!” Aziraphale chirps, electing to ignore it unless it presents a larger problem and grinning. “I’m so glad that you’re alright. I was worried about you.”
“You really shouldn’t have been,” Crowley says, his voice even. “I wasn’t worried about you.”
“Well, I’m delighted to hear you think I can handle myself-,” Aziraphale says after a short pause.
“No, I’m just not worried about you,” he says, and yet his eyes are growing softer with every glance at Aziraphale’s wings. Not that the angel notices. “Honestly I don’t care what happens to you. You could go throw yourself into a pit of acid for all I care.”
“I don’t give a fuck about what you do,” Crowley says slowly, as though he were speaking to a small child. “Just keep out of my way.”
“What- why- what's wrong?” Aziraphale asks, his voice coming out as a small squeak. Crowley turns, snatching a book off of one of the shelves and opening it quickly to a random page. He holds the top like he’s going to tear it out, then hesitates and simply shuts it closed with a snap and throws it to the ground.
“What kind of an idiot are you? Don’t you get it?” Crowley shouts. There’s a waver in his voice. “I don’t love you! I never did!”
Aziraphale backs himself towards the corner of the bookshop. “But you-,” His begins. His breathing is quickening, and behind his back, he’s dug his nails far enough into his wrists that he’s almost certain he’s drawn blood.
“What?” Crowley snaps, face split into a grin that looks almost pained. “Saved your life? I don’t know if you’d noticed, but you saved mine too, Angel.” He says the last word out of habit, and Aziraphale flinches back into a shelf, a shoulder knocking books to the floor.
He’s not entirely sure what he’s feeling right now. His internal organs have tied themselves in knots, and it’s like a hideous mockery of how he usually feels around his- his- he doesn’t quite know what Crowley is to him anymore. Not now.
“Crowley, please,” Aziraphale manages to stammer out after a long period of distressed staring. “What’s wrong? I can help-,”
“Yeah, you can.” Crowley barks. “And you can do that by promising not to come after me. I don’t love you, I don’t care how much you love me, good-bye.”
Aziraphale grabs Crowley by the arm as he tries to leave and yanks him back. “You wouldn’t, you- why would- you're- I-,”
Crowley breaks. “I’m sorry,” He says, draconian eyes watering. “I’m so sorry. I can’t be around, and I can’t explain, and I want- I need you to stay away from me. It’s not- safe. I don’t want you getting hurt.”
“I love you. ‘M sorry, I’m sorry, I love you. And you’ll- you’ll always be my Angel.” Crowley kisses him once, sweetly, chastely, and then he’s gone, like a shadow in the night, as though he were never there at all.
Silently, Aziraphale vows to find him again.