Crowley knew, as all the hosts of heaven and hell knew, that when an angel's wings were taken the pain was the same pain the Creator felt when His beloved star rebelled.
He also knew that no angel, fallen or otherwise, had survived the ordeal.
He supposed that this was supposed to fill him with a sense of awe and fear. After all, if the Creator could withstand such a thing and still survive, He must be a truly great being. And how much must He have loved Lucifer, even after the angel had betrayed Him, to feel such pain at his loss?
Maybe it would have, if he'd still been an angel. Maybe. He barely remembered how the angels thought, how they saw the world - yes, he knew Aziraphale well enough, but that was different. Aziraphale was like him.
As it was, though, he just felt angry and sick. What was he supposed to feel? God was supposed to be the good guy, and yet there He was, ripping the wings off of some poor sod so that He could prove that He was bigger and better than they were. At least when Satan did things like that, he was honest about what he was doing.
Crowley was supposed to be watching from his handy vantage point in Hell. Satan always made them watch. He didn't let them see his face, not ever - there were whispers among the demons that he cried, but they were always quickly silenced. But Crowley hadn't had the stomach to stay, and no one had stopped him when he'd turned and left. Oh, there would be Hell to pay later on, but for the moment they were all hung up on seeing their Adversaries suffer. It was an angel that time, after all - Crowley hadn't heard what he'd done, and he didn't really care.
It didn't surprise Crowley when he ended up by the bookstore. Where else would he go? He pushed half-heartedly at the door, expecting to feel a bit of resistance as he usually did when it was locked - surely God was having his angels watch, to demonstrate His ineffiable mercy or some such.
It opened easily. Crowley walked in, careful not to brush against anything that looked less than stable. The place was dark and musty and felt like a tomb, and was basically the least inviting bookstore he'd ever seen, but when wasn't it? "Angel," he called after a moment. "You around?"
He heard a rustle of papers in the back room, and took it as an invitation.
The angel was huddled down under his coat, staring down at what Crowley recognized as one of his favorite antique Bibles. He muttered something that Crowley couldn't understand as the demon walked in, although he did not look up. He looked pale and drawn, as if he hadn't slept in weeks... which he probably hadn't, although he usually didn't look it.
Crowley sighed and squatted down next to him. "Hey," he said quietly.
"Good morning," Aziraphale managed through lips that didn't seem to work properly.
Crowley could relate. "You going to be okay?"
Aziraphale nodded. "I suppose. I'm just... waiting for the scream."
Oh, God, that blessed scream. Crowley had almost managed to forget about that. He'd hear it there as well as he'd hear it in Hell. Everyone could hear an angel's dying scream, even humans - although they wouldn't hear it with their ears, of course not. There were other senses involved, senses that they didn't even know they had. There was a reason that most of humanity's greatest disasters tended to come in clusters.
"The Metatron is a bit cross with me at the moment, I'm afraid," the angel continued. "But I couldn't-"
"Yeah," Crowley interrupted him. "I know exactly what you mean, so do me a favor and don't remind me." It'll come soon enough on its own, he added silently.
It took Crowley's cue and came. Crowley and Aziraphale both winced as the horrible sound tore through their minds, tore into their thoughts. Angels and demons always felt it when one of their own died, no matter how far away they were. They were all connected, angels most of all - Crowley felt Aziraphale twitch, felt him shaking even after the sound had died away. He felt the angel's hand clamped tightly enough around his wrist that if he'd been a mortal he probably wouldn't have had a wrist anymore.
If he hadn't been a demon, he would've comforted the angel. He would've said something. As he was, though... what could he say? Demons didn't comfort angels. It was just the way things were.
After a while Aziraphale's grip slackened. He sat up, staring off into nothing. "It's... it's over, isn't it?" he asked softly.
"Yeah," Crowley answered in kind. "Yeah, it's done."
"Good," the angel said. "Poor Zaphkiel. I knew him, you know... back before they sent me down here. We were never really friends, but..." He shook his head. "Hard to imagine he's... gone."
Crowley sighed. He didn't know what to say. Feeling another angel's death always hit Aziraphale particularly hard; he would always remember or make up reasons to be particularly depressed about the whole thing. It didn't hurt Crowley so much when it was one of his, except for the generalized sort of anger he usually felt at God during those moments.
"Well, go on," Aziraphale continued after a while. "Tell me I'm being foolish."
"Why in Heaven's blasted name would I do that?"
"Because you're a demon, Crowley." He looked up at Crowley and smiled wearily. "I could use a bit of familiarity right now."
Crowley rolled his eyes. "Sorry, angel. Not up to it. You'll have to settle for me taking you out for some lunch and then leaving you with the bill."
Aziraphale's smile widened. "I think that will be sufficient."
Crowley stood up. "Well, let's go then," he said, and tried to block the sounds of that scream from his mind. There was good food to be had and a sympathetic companion to have them with; that was always a comfort.
A/N: Ficlet for fic(un)on(un)demand (where the underscores are replaced with those weird symbols, since they won't show up properly.) It was an attempt to get my inspiration for this fandom back, a while ago. The first two paragraphs were posted as the challenge - the idea was to use them in the story. I tried.