With his Bentley in tow and no apparent sign that Hell was aware of his Second Coming, Crowley had finally returned to London. He had returned to the hustle and bustle of the crowded streets, the frustrated pedestrians, and the abundance of useless, modern conveniences that only made life that much less convenient. He'd returned to his flat, where he'd been forced to spend a full day viciously pruning his houseplants…he vanished for a few shorts months and the little piles of dirt thought it was all right to let their leaves go brown. After that, he divided his spare time liberally between re-stocking his apartment with hopeful specimens, updating himself on the backlog of Golden Girls episodes online, and tempting humans.
Technically he was no longer required. Hastur was dead and if Alistair was on his case, he was being remarkably low-key about it even for Alistair. But the urge to tempt and do malicious wrongs was a part of him. It was what he'd, indirectly, been born to do. But Crowley prided himself on having curbed his natural tendencies towards evil down to occasional cravings. It was like a drug he went to meetings to cure – he could stop, if he really wanted to, but life just wasn't right without it.
Crowley hadn't meant to Fall. He'd just hung around with the wrong kind of people. He'd Sauntered Vaguely into Damnation – he hadn't even realized he'd done wrong until Aziraphale's friends had started giving him funny looks.
He also indulged himself in regular and high velocity Bentley rides – partly for the sheer joy of being alive to drive it, and partly to acquaint himself with his new collection of cassette tapes. He knew that Dean would be pissed that he'd swapped their cassette sets, but Crowley chose to consider them payment for being forced to exercise his meager healing skills. It would all be Queen in a matter of weeks, anyway. He hadn't liked Black Sabbath, and Metallica had been right out the window. However, he'd found himself enjoying Led Zeppelin and Survivor, and he suspected even Aziraphale might like Asia.
Such were his reflections as, on the morning of the fifth day since the battle, he stood at the edge of the pond in St. James park and tossed breadcrumbs absently into the water. He wasn't exactly feeding the ducks, because the ducks had never been very enthusiastic about being fed by individuals. Clandestine government meetings never took place with only one person present. Most of them were in fact busy trying to catch the attention of the Czechoslovakian cultural attaché – a newcomer and currently unknown quantity – who was currently talking in hushed tones with the Serbian ambassador. Crowley therefore couldn't quite understand what in the world he was doing there – he'd just gotten into the Bentley that morning and found himself here.
He liked the ducks of St. James Park. They were one of the few constants in his life. The large pond was also one of his most dependable meeting places with Aziraphale. Even when nothing was wrong, sometimes they'd both just stop by on the same day and at the same time. Sometimes they never said anything to each other, sometimes they even fed the ducks on opposite sides of the pond, but that didn't matter. It reaffirmed for themselves the fact that the Arrangement was still there.
However, four solid days had passed since his own resurrection…two since he'd come back to London…and yet he'd seen neither hide nor hair of the angel. He'd checked the bookshop in Soho. It had been there, large as life, back where it belonged, which could only have been done by Aziraphale or Adam. He'd even let himself in and seen that the place looked a little less dusty than usual. The books in particular had been carefully tended to quite recently.
That probably meant that Aziraphale was back…
…but then, where in Heaven's name was he?!
He wondered sometimes, as the days went by, whether Aziraphale believed that he'd been working for Alistair that night he'd kidnapped Castiel. Never mind the fact that Aziraphale had been in the Bentley with him barely an hour before, eating with him as though nothing at all had been wrong. Crowley had already had to remind himself several times that he could have taken him to Alistair then, and probably gotten away without dying in the bargain. But he'd taken Castiel instead. He knew that probably didn't mean much to those who had been forced to come to the rescue, but…well…
Crowley had been marked as a traitor ever since that whole business with Eve, so he knew he shouldn't have been surprised that Castiel and Uriel, the Winchesters, and Aziraphale believed that he'd betrayed them. Alistair, on the other hand, had expected him to betray the demons. The depressing fact was that Alistair had been right. The good guys were the ones being suspicious, prejudiced bastards. Maybe he'd been spoiled by his time with Aziraphale, maybe he'd never gotten over his deep-seated optimism, but Crowley had come to expect more of those who claimed to be the "good guys."
Well, he supposed it didn't matter much. Aziraphale had been mad at him plenty of times before. Early on in their relationship, they'd really downright hated one another and would go decades without crossing paths, and even then most of their meeting would end with one of them discorporating the other. He'd get over it. He always did. It came with the angelic territory.
There were other places he could probably look, but Crowley didn't bother. The battle for the Seals was heating up – Aziraphale was probably assisting the angels, while Crowley planned on keeping his head down. Besides, the Arrangement didn't hinge on them being able to track one another down. It hinged on the fact that, when one of them needed help, the other would be around. Crowley didn't need any help from the angel…probably wouldn't for a while yet, because neither Heaven nor Hell even knew he was alive.
Crowley was immortal.
He was prepared to wait.
He tossed the last of the breadcrumbs at the ducks, crumpled up the paper bag, and tossed it into the grass. He bit back a sigh, staring at the pedestrians filling the park around him. He found himself looking for any hint of Aziraphale – a camelhair overcoat, pale blond hair. But that was a pointless and stupid thing to do, and he knew it.
He shrugged. Aziraphale would show up…eventually. He always did. And until something else came by to mess him about…be it angel, demon, or human…Crowley planned on keeping his head down and staying out of the way. The world could make its way without him for a while.
Sticking his hands firmly in his pockets, Crowley turned away and started the long walk across the park back to the Bentley.
The first words that crossed his mind when he saw a figure leaning against the car and the driver's side door open were "car thief." But as Crowley opened his mouth to call out, the newcomer lifted his head to look back at him and smiled pleasantly, holding up a cassette tape he'd clearly taken from the car.
"You know…" said Aziraphale. "I really don't think these are yours, my dear."