Daegaer wrote, @ 2003-06-05
Wing-fic? We don’t need no steenking wing-fic! As afrai says, wing-fic is canonical for Good Omens. This is the GO equivalent of wing-fic: wingless-fic . . .
It was just the loveliest day, so sunny and bright,
but not too hot. There was
a delightful breeze keeping the temperature very pleasant. It was, in short,
perfect flying weather. Aziraphale hadnt flown for a while, but it wasnt
something one forgot, after all. It would be like waking up having forgotten
how to walk — one might be out of practice and get out of breath a bit faster,
but one didnt forget. Which was why Aziraphale was quite confident and
fearless despite standing on the very edge of his roof, about to launch
himself into thin air. He took a deep breath of the warm, London-scented
breeze and stepped off the roof. And immediately fell two stories and lay in a
dazed and painful heap in the laneway behind the shop.
* * *
Crowley leaned on the Bentleys horn, and swerved
from lane to lane. The M25
might be a sign of great evil — and it was, he should know — but it wasnt
going to defeat him. He shot through the miniscule space left by the police
cars and ambulances attending to the latest pileup and was away before anyone
could register more than a horrified sense of
shit-big-black-what-the-hell-was-that? His mobile was ringing again. He pulled
it out of his pocket and checked the number. Aziraphale again. That was the
third time in a quarter of an hour. Right. This had better be important. He
put on his best hiss.
What is it?
Crowley, Aziraphale said, sounding shaken and scared. Crowley.
Yes? You were expecting the Man Above? What do you want?
Crowley. I cant fly, Crowley.
So take a train.
No. I mean — I mean I cant fly. I dont have wings, Crowley.
Have you been at that bad whisky again? Crowley scoffed.
Im not joking. I have. No. Wings.
I need you to come see me. Please,
Fine. Ill be there as soon as I can. Try
not to fly into a panic before
then, Crowley said with a mean grin.
He hung up and calculated the distance to the next
exit. Too far. Well, hed
passed one that would do him just fine not three minutes ago. The Bentley made
a smooth and graceful U-turn and proceeded to scare the living daylights out
of all the oncoming drivers.
* * *
He pulled to a halt in front of the bookshop and strolled
was waiting, wearing a hole in the floorboards with his pacing back and forth.
Crowley was barely in the door when he had to shake the angel off.
Stop clinging to me. Its undignified, he said
in annoyance. Whats the
I cant seem to locate my wings, Aziraphale said
in the very calm tones of
someone who is about to have a fit of the vapours. I jumped off my roof
earlier and —
Didnt realise you were the suicidal type, Crowley sniggered.
I wanted to fly, Aziraphale said with great dignity.
But my wings didnt
open. They didnt open because they werent there. I dont know what to do.
He sat down heavily on the chair behind the counter.
Crowley got ready to be
disgusted with him for crying, then saw the angels eyes were dry. He was
staring into space, looking like he was trying to remember something
My leg was broken, he said suddenly, it really
hurt. Even when I fixed it,
Dont be silly, Crowley said uneasily. That was
just your imagination. Do
you want me to check it for you?
Aziraphale shook his head.
Ill make you a cup of tea, Crowley said, wanting
to get away from this
unusually quiet and miserable Aziraphale.
He paced across the kitchenette and back. Obviously
the angel had made some
mistake, and was now convinced of this wingless nonsense. People didnt just
lose limbs overnight. The thing to do was to talk some sense into him. He
brought the mug of tea back in, and made Aziraphale drink it.
Now, he said. Why dont you start from the beginning?
You decided to take a
little flight, and . . . ?
And I didnt have wings, Aziraphale said dully. I want my wings, Crowley.
Crowley couldnt help it. He flicked a glance
to the bell over the door and
made it jingle.
When you hear a bell ring — he started cheerily.
The mug of tea hit him right in the face.
Dont laugh at me, you, you bastard! Aziraphale screamed.
Crowley stood frozen in position. Aziraphale
had thrown scalding hot tea in
his face. Aziraphale had sworn. Aziraphale didnt seem to care that the book
on the counter had been liberally doused with the tea that hadnt made it onto
Crowleys person. This was serious.
All right, he said. All right. Lets get out
of here. I cant think when
Im surrounded by book mites.
He thought himself dry and shepherded Aziraphale out
to the car. He drove them
sedately and calmly to Mayfair, and politely escorted Aziraphale up to the
flat. He put the angel in an armchair with lots of cushions and told him not
to move. He knew exactly how to calm him down, and was fairly sure there was a
large angel-calming chocolate ice-cream gateau in the freezer. When he came
back into the sitting room with a sinfully large slice of the gateau,
Aziraphale was gone. Crowley put the plate carefully on the coffee table — no
point in dropping it dramatically, not with a white carpet — and prowled down
his hallway. The bathroom door was closed. And locked.
Are you OK? he called. Are you getting sick?
There was no answer. He put an ear to the door.
He could hear something. A low, rhythmical muttering.
It didnt sound like
English. He concentrated, and picked out the word holy, and angel and what
he could have sworn was come in, over.
Open this door! he yelled, rattling it on its hinges.
No point in waiting, he thought, and kicked it open.
Aziraphale was kneeling
in a circle drawn on the tiles, mismatched candles placed around him. Crowley
ran in and kicked the candles over and rubbed at the circle with a foot. Soap.
The bastard had drawn it on with soap. He dragged the feebly protesting
Aziraphale out of the bathroom.
How dare you try to contact Heaven in my bathroom! he hissed in fury.
I just wanted guidance, Aziraphale said wretchedly.
I feel so —
Crowley rolled his eyes. He glared at Aziraphale
and considered what to do. He
thought he might start with taking off the glasses and rolling his eyes again.
He settled for pushing the angel back down into the chair and giving him the
Here, eat this, he said. Just behave yourself, all right?
Aziraphale began mashing the cake into a rich chocolatey
paste. This was very
serious, Crowley thought. He took the plate away again.
Oh, all right. Show me the blessed wings.
Aziraphale stood up quickly and looked like he was concentrating deeply.
I was going to suggest you might want to take your
shirt off, first, Crowley
Aziraphale gave him a deeply bitter look.
Whats the point? Its not like I have wings that might damage it.
Crowley stepped behind him and ran a hand over the
shoulder blades. It all
felt normal, if by normal you meant not possessed of a bloody great pair of
I dont know what to say, he said. And you only
noticed this today? When
was the last time you flew?
Aziraphale looked stricken.
Not for a few years. Oh, Heavens. I dont know how long theyve been gone.
Hmm. Well, on the bright side, youre still
able to heal, right? You said you
fixed your leg. And youre still immortal — I assume. So, you havent turned
human when you werent looking. Youve just lost your wings. Youre
pinion-challenged. Youre —
A mug of steaming tea appeared in Aziraphales hand,
and was held
Not that Im insensitive to your loss, Crowley said
hurriedly. And youve
just proved my point about still having your abilities.
Aziraphale sipped the tea and glared at him.
And when, he said in a poisonous tone, did you last fly, Crowley?
Quite recently, Crowley lied. Would you like some whisky in that?
Aziraphale held the mug out and let him pour a hefty
dose of Glenfiddich into
Be right back, Crowley said calmly and walked off
without a care into his
bedroom, where he frantically tore off his jacket and shirt and spread his
wings. Oh, shit. Nothing. He closed his eyes, and thought of the feeling of a
good strong downstroke against the wind. Nothing. He imagined the pleasure of
a really good stretch and what it was like to really shake your wings out.
Were not laughing now, I see, Aziraphale said in
a nasty voice from the
He had abandoned the tea, Crowley saw, and was drinking
the whisky from the
bottle. He wandered in and walked a full circle around Crowley.
Dear me, Crowley, he said. You dont appear to have any wings.
Crowley held his hand out for the bottle. Getting
drunk suddenly seemed like a
very good idea.
* * *
Havent flown fyears, Crowley slurred, peering
hopefully into the bottle of
Hennesseys. Bastards empty, he said, in a philosophical tone.
Here, Aziraphale said, holding out the bottle of
Irish Mist hed been
That sh-sh-stuff is the devils pish, Crowley said.
An dunask me how I
Aziraphale began to giggle, and slowly toppled over
onto the carpet. He waved
a hand feebly about, which Crowley eventually interpreted as a plea for help.
He propped the angel up again. Aziraphale fixed his gaze on the Irish Mist as
much as he could and made a few mystic passes.
Be healed, he giggled, and took a swig.
Whatyou turn it to? Crowley asked.
Good enough, gimme.
Some time after they had emptied Crowleys liquor
cabinet twice over, they
* * *
Crowley woke up with the impression that the Golden
Horde had set up camp in
his mouth. There was a distinct taste of yurt. Hed been quite fond of the
khans, he thought muzzily. Good senses of humour. The fermented mares milk,
though. That had been a bit off. He was lying on something lumpy, he realised.
And he was on the floor. His carpet shouldnt be lumpy. He went back to sleep.
A little later he woke up with the terrible urge to get to the bathroom right
away, and the terrible knowledge that if he so much as twitched an eyebrow the
Horde would start galloping over his head. The lumpy thing moaned and tried to
crawl away. Crowley opened one eye and winced as the fury of the Mongols
began. He appeared to be lying on Aziraphale, who didnt seem to have worked
out why he wasnt moving very far.
Crowley rolled away, and decided that movement was
not a good idea. No wonder
they called it the demon drink. He wanted very sincerely to die.
Asssssrefel, he croaked. Im dying. Kill me off, quick. Or heal me.
A hand flopped into his face.
Get well soon, Aziraphale moaned.
As far as a healing wish went it was fairly saccharine,
but it worked, at
least a bit. Crowley staggered upright and blearily looked down at the drink
spattered angel. Aziraphale was looking up at him pleadingly, but Crowley had
suddenly far more important things to worry about.
Back in a mo, he gasped and ran for the bathroom.
When he returned, Aziraphale seemed to be trying to
work out the foetal
position from first principles. Crowley ruthlessly pulled him to his feet and
forced the alcohols effects away. They both swayed on their feet, then
charged for the kitchen.
I always forget how much I hate hangovers, Aziraphale
said around a mouthful
of chocolate covered truffles.
Uh-huh, Crowley agreed, shovelling a jarful of prawn
cocktail into his
Do you have bread? I want toast, Aziraphale said.
Crowley waved a hand at the bread bin. Aziraphale raised an eyebrow at its contents.
Sun dried tomato focaccia? Dont you have anything like a batch loaf?
Crowley materialised a sliced white loaf and handed it over. Aziraphale dropped slices into a toaster that hadnt been there a moment before.
What are we going to do? he asked.
Im not sure theres much we can do, he said. Its not like it really changes our day to day lives. Well just have to soldier on.
I really want to fly, Aziraphale said wistfully.
Only because you cant. You were perfectly happy walking or getting a lift before. You wouldnt have flown a hundred yards if you could help it.
Aziraphale assumed a brave, stoical expression.
Yes. Youre right, of course. Well just have to do without them. I suppose its our cross to bear.
Please dont use that phrase around me, he said.
* * *
It didnt change his life much, he thought. Apart from the urge to climb tall structures and throw himself off. He didnt give in to that too often, because it wasnt really satisfying to turn to a bird when what he wanted to do was feel his own wings. He just couldnt make them appear. Become a winged creature, yes. But not be his own true form. Aziraphale was taking it really hard, he knew. There were books of religious art stashed all over his shop, with bookmarks stuck in them. Crowley hadnt bothered looking at more than one of the books. Why wallow in misery? Aziraphale liked a good wallow. Crowley finally exploded when he stopped by and found that Aziraphale had decorated the shop with what looked like fifty years worth of Christmas cards. The kitschiest of them he had obviously brought to a photocopy shop and had blown up to A3 size.
Enough! Crowley roared. Stop with the self-pity! We dont have wings! Get over it!
The shops sole customer fled. Aziraphale immediately locked the door in case more book lovers should dare to come in.
I just like the artwork, he said defensively.
No one likes this artwork. You are feeling sorry for yourself. Feel sorry for me, for a change.
I thought you said I should get over it? Im to get over it, but youre not?
Youre pathetic, Crowley hissed. Bloody pathetic. You always have been. You lose your sword, your wings — have you checked for your halo recently? Why dont you go drown your sorrows in a couple of litres of double-chocolate ice cream?
He stormed over to the door and half tore it off its hinges. He was too angry to get into the car, so he stalked down the road. He heard running feet behind him. Let the bastard apologise for being a whiner, he didnt care. Aziraphale was shouting something. With a start, Crowley realised it was coordinates. The bastard was calling in fire. On him. He turned and jumped the angel before he could get the final words out. People peered at them as they tussled. Suddenly they both stepped back, horribly embarrassed.
Sorry, Crowley muttered.
Yes. Me too, Aziraphale said, looking at his feet.
It is a bit of a strain, Crowley offered.
Um. I still shouldnt have tried to annihilate you.
Come on. We need a change of scene, Crowley said.
He deposited the angel in the car and didnt stop driving till they reached the Lake District.
What are we doing? Aziraphale asked, as Crowley booked them into a hostel.
Were going to be here a while. And were going to be walking. A lot. And were going to stay in this shitty hostel — no offense, miss — and then when we are thoroughly sick of this place were going to go home and be thankful for the benefits of civilisation such as the internal combustion engine and decent eating establishments.
Oh. Can we buy souvenirs?
Yes. Well, you can if you want.
For the next week he chased the angel up hill and down dale till Aziraphale was ready to rain fire on any hapless daffodils he came across. When Aziraphale complained it was getting late, Crowley reminded him that they didnt need sleep and Crowley could see in the dark anyway. After walking all night Aziraphale became very biddable, he was happy to find. The scenery was very lovely, and neither of them had an ounce of energy left to spare for feeling sorry for themselves.
After the first week, Aziraphale was no longer complaining or whining under his breath. Crowley didnt believe in conversions, so he continued forcing the angel out on hill walks. After another week, Aziraphale was hounding him up hills and laughing heartlessly when he wanted a breather. It was doing him some good, Crowley thought, looking at a pink-faced and cheerful Aziraphale. The angel waved an unremarkable wild flower under his nose, and Crowley agreed that yes, it was very beautiful.
After a month, Crowley was ready to go home. The fresh air didnt have the same comforting smell as the petrol scented London atmosphere. He brought the subject up at dinner.
Ready to go back to London? he asked.
Aziraphales face clouded over, and he stopped telling his story about the medicinal uses of the daisy family.
No, he said.
Crowley sipped his tea. The angel was looking stubborn. There was no point in trying to overrule him. He changed the subject.
Want to go for a swim tomorrow?
Dont be silly, Aziraphale said in surprise. In these lakes? Wed freeze.
And hes off, Crowley thought as Aziraphale began lecturing him on water temperature vs air temperature, the relevance of the wind chill factor and why seals managed to swim in the Antarctic. Aziraphale was his old self when he got a good prattle going, but it looked as if Crowleyd have his work cut out getting him back home.
* * *
At the end of their sixth week Crowley decided he was resigned to a rural life. The fresh air had charms of its own, and made him think of years when it had been the norm. The tempting and thwarting opportunities werent so bad either, he thought, at least in the summer. Once the tourist season was over, though, hed probably have to head to a few towns to make up his quota. I could just leave him, he thought, hed be all right. He thought about that for a full day, until it occurred to him that Aziraphale wouldnt keep in contact. Hed be all over the place, walking round, and it was just no good suggesting he get a mobile phone. Crowley could get in trouble if he had to report he didnt know where Heavens agent was hiding. And of course the Arrangement would go to pot. No, he decided, abandoning Aziraphale would be a bad idea.
Of course, it was hard not to abandon Aziraphale when he would insist on meandering off the path, stopping to examine flowers, or slugs or droppings. It was like he was planning to audition for a low budget nature-programme, Crowley thought, turning to see where Aziraphale had got to.
Aziraphale! Come on! he yelled.
The angel looked up from his latest find, peered at him through the evening twilight and waved cheerfully. Crowley grinned and took a step back. Let him run to catch up, it would be good for him. His foot slipped on the damp grass, and he felt his ankle turn under him. The pain was sharp, but nothing he couldnt have healed with a moments thought. Sadly for him, his concentration was broken by falling over as he tried to compensate and put his weight on his other foot. With nothing more than a sense of surprise — at least at first — Crowley found himself sliding more and more rapidly down a very steep slope. Behind him he could hear Aziraphale shouting his name.
He came to a rest against an outcropping of rock. To be accurate, he thought muzzily, he had cunningly broken his fall by hitting it with his head. There was something he had meant to do, but he could no longer remember what it was. He had rather a bad headache, and he wanted a little nap. He felt quite warm and comfy as he closed his eyes.
There was a loud slithery noise and someone calling him. He opened one eye to find Aziraphale crouched over him, breathless and looking sillier than usual.
Hello, he said dopily.
Idiot! Moron! Twit! Aziraphale said, putting a hand on his forehead.
The muzzy feeling vanished and he felt much colder. He sat up, frowning at the patch of blood on the rock. That would have been an embarrassing way to go. It would have been even more embarrassing to have continued rolling down into the lake beneath. His ankle didnt hurt any more, and in fact had the sort of cool tingly feeling that meant Aziraphale had been at work on it. Crowley looked up the hill and whistled. He was glad he hadnt had time to register how steep it was on the way down.
Howd you get down here? he asked.
I slid, and climbed where I had to. You idiot, why didnt you look where you were going? You could have been killed. You almost were.
Crowley brushed that aside with a nonchalant wave of his hand, then stopped to think. The light wasnt good at all, and Aziraphale couldn’t see in the dark. The angel had clambered down a slope he must have barely been able to see. Crowley felt worried and then enraged by the thought.
Forget me, youre an idiot for coming down here in this light. Are you insane?
Well if I was able to fly I would have been down to you quicker and safer. Im so sorry I bothered, Aziraphale snapped.
Why didnt you become a bloody owl, or something? Crowley said.
My first instinct was not to turn into something with a taste for mice, Aziraphale said coldly. Why didnt you turn into a bird and save me the trouble?
Crowley opened his mouth and then shut it again. He thought back to the feeling of his foot going, the fall starting. Useless instincts, he thought.
Because my first instinct was to open my wings and fly, he said slowly.
As he said it he felt something go inside him. Hed never actually believed his wings were gone, he realised. He had thought theyd be there when he needed them, would bear him up into the sky where he belonged. Stupid, stupid. They hadnt saved him from falling. He stamped down hard on the thought. Aziraphale was looking at him closely.
Youre crying, Aziraphale said.
Wind in my eyes, Crowley said, suddenly very tired. Thats all.
I flew over the Sahara once, at noon, Aziraphale said softly. The sky was a pale, pale blue, and the desert was almost white. I was the only living creature, the only moving thing. I was flying at top speed, but it was as if I wasnt moving at all. It was like — I felt — I almost thought —, he faltered. It doesnt matter now, he said.
He wrapped his arms round himself and began to cry. Crowley looked away. He should materialise a new pair of sunglasses, he thought. Theyd stop the blessed wind from getting in his eyes. He buried his face in his hands and shook with loss.
* * *
They sat, quiet at last, on the hill top. Crowley sneaked looks at Aziraphale every so often, but the angel always seemed fully occupied staring up into the sky. Crowley wondered if he were looking for other angels, or simply observing the stars. The sky was lightening when Aziraphale finally spoke.
We should go back to London, he said. Or to some place else with people. Were neglecting our work.
His voice was sad but calm. Crowley peered at him sidelong.
Are you all right? he asked.
Yes, Aziraphale said. Im all right. You?
They were silent again. Aziraphale’s face was peaceful, Crowley thought. The angel seemed to have achieved a balanced calm. Crowley immediately felt the need to pick away at him.
Nice flying weather, he said.
Yes. It would be.
Crowley was sorry hed said anything so petty, seeing how the calm expression hadnt changed. Aziraphale deserved better, he thought and considered how he might subtly apologise.
Your wings were always a mess, he said in a friendly, joking tone. At least you dont have to worry about grooming them any more.
Aziraphale gave him a vaguely exasperated look, then shook his head in some private amusement.
I didnt have anyone to do them for me, he said.
Crowley nodded. It was hard to do your own wings, and angels groomed each others. The ghost of a memory floated up, the feel of someones fingers raking through his feathers, him laughing over his shoulder at something. He couldnt remember why hed laughed, or the face or name of the angel grooming him. It was quite gone. His own wings had always been perfectly groomed since hed fallen. No sensible demon would let another at his unguarded back. Demons used brushes and combs, and had well-groomed wings. Angels used their fingers and didnt look so neat. They had friends, though. He put a hand on Aziraphales shoulder.
Id have done them for you, he said.
Aziraphale gave him a grateful smile, and reached over to take his other hand.
And Id have done yours, he said.
Thank you, Crowley said.
He smiled, mainly to himself. This had been quite a painless apology.
We didnt appreciate them, Aziraphale said.
We didnt. We walked, or used your car all the time. Maybe thats why we lost them. We miss them now theyre gone, but we never appreciated them when we had them.
Humans write songs about that insight, Aziraphale. Am I going to hear you on the radio?
Aziraphale smiled, and squeezed his hand tightly.
I appreciate your friendship, Crowley, he said. I dont want to lose that. Youre a good fellow.
Crowley snorted and readied a stinging reply. He paused. There was no one else to hear, and he would be sorry to lose his drinking partner. And the Arrangement, of course. He patted the angels shoulder.
I like you too, he said, just a touch of mockery in his voice.
He felt rather odd as he said it, and had a very strong sense of deja vu. He shook it off as meaningless, and patted Aziraphales shoulder again, getting another squeeze on his hand in reply. Good old Aziraphale, not such a bad sort, for an angel.
The sky was very bright now, and wisps of cloud hung palely over them. The light filled the valley beneath them and sparkled off the waters of the lake. This is the day, Crowley thought, not letting himself finish that thought.
Its going to be a beautiful day. This is a beautiful world, he said. We should be glad of it.
Yes, Aziraphale said, smiling at him without reservation. Oh, yes.
* * * * * * * * * * * *