Author's Note: I don't even know. SPN crossover, spoiler-free for S5.
the death of Anthony J Crowley, and his subsequent rebirth
It is remarkably hard to kill a demon.
There are ways, of course. Hell has a handful of them and there's even a few that humans can employ to get rid of supernatural entities. Not exorcise them, mind – that's a whole other kettle of fish and relatively easy, if you know all the right words and the motions. No, to actually kill a demon, to the point where they're damned to the deepest pits of Hell for an eternity of torture without even the chance of getting a new body and being allowed to roam free once more, is quite difficult.
It's even harder to kill an angel, since nobody really wants to kill them except demons, and they tend not to because tempting humans to do the dirty work is much more appropriate. Besides, there's only one angel that permanently lives on Earth, and any venturing demon that attempts to get close – perhaps in an attempt to Fell him and earn a hefty promotion – tends to forget what they're trying to do as they approach the edges of Soho.
There is one method that will kill both angel and demon, and Crowley had quite hoped that its existence was a myth and he'd never have to look down both the metaphorical and literal barrel of the one gun on this world that could blast him to damnation.
Turns out he was being somewhat optimistic.
He's not entirely sure why he does it.
Well, that's a lie really, because he knows exactly why he does it, but he's never going to admit it to anyone so he can pretend to himself that it's an illogical and unreasonable reaction in the circumstances. He's not even sure how he knows that it's That Gun that's being pointed at them, but there's something deep within his entire demonic being that's screaming in abject terror and he tends to listen to his inner voices when they're so certain about this sort of thing.
As the trigger is pulled there's a flash and then a bang. Crowley reaches out a hand and pushes, and takes one step to the left.
He supposes he should be grateful, really, that he's a full demon. He reckons that the other demons – the humans who became half-demons after spending too long in the Pit – would probably die immediately after being shot with one of these bullets, the body that he was inhabiting left behind as a slightly smoking lump of meat.
But Crowley is not a half-demon and so what follows over the next few days are agonising hours spent sweating in Aziraphale's bed as the poison spreads throughout his immortal soul.
The angel tries everything in his (quite considerable) power to save him, but it doesn't work. Crowley can feel the warmth that floods his body every time he tries but it never stays – it always fades away to a cold that grips on tightly, pulling him down.
Dying for an angel is a pretty ridiculous way to die, Crowley decides.
It's at that point that he realizes he's no longer laying on a patchwork quilt, and there's no awkward bedsprings digging into his back. Neither is there the smell of hot cocoa permeating the air or mid-afternoon sun striping through the window at his side. There is no vicious pain in his chest, no ache spreading through his bones, no poison coursing through his veins. There is no careful hand mopping his brow, no comforting words close to his ear, and no Aziraphale.
There is nothing. Just endless white blankness stretching for miles in all directions. There is no sound and no sight, no smell or taste and when he looks down, he realizes that even he isn't actually there.
The only explanation that he can come up with is that the bullet has finally fulfilled its purpose and he is, in fact, dead. But then he can't have died, because his death will only result in being thrown into the deepest pits of Hell and unless those responsible for eternal torture and suchlike have grown a twisted sense of humour since he last spoke with them, this is not the deepest pit of Hell.
Either that, or they've been redecorating.
He's not entirely sure how long he spends in the white expanse of nothingness. It feels like a while, but then he has nothing to measure it by and he has a feeling that not even time itself doesn't really exist here and if it does, it's more fluid than water.
At some point between lapses of boredom, Crowley notices that he's no longer alone. There's nobody with him, though – there's no change at all to the landscape. There's just suddenly a presence that he can feel in the very marrow of his bones that aren't actually there. It's a comforting sort of presence, so he only worries for a short while before going back to postulating what exactly might have happened to him.
The presence doesn't go away.
After a period that could be minutes or hours or days, there comes a Voice.
It startles Crowley because he'd got used to the presence being there to an extent that he'd quite forgotten about it – it had become a background hum in his monotonous existence. It also startles him because he has no ears and so shouldn't really be able to hear anything at all and he would have physically jumped, had he had a physical body. But he doesn't, and he takes a moment to respond because he's wondering if he even can, since he has no mouth either.
"You are a puzzle," the voice says. There's no emotion in it but Crowley decides that it is, unsurprisingly, puzzled.
"You are a demon."
"Last time I checked, yes."
"A true demon, one of the Fallen from the Beginning."
"That was sort of an accident."
"You were never human and so do not experience human tendencies. You are inherently evil and have been since your Fall, and are incapable of good."
"Well, if you want to put it like that."
"And yet here you are."
Crowley would be tilting his head in a confused sort of manner if he could, since the owner of this voice seems to think he's far better informed than he actually is, and it's actually a bit confusing.
"Just so I know, where is here?"
"This is non-existence."
Which is just as infuriating, really.
"And... why I am in non-existence?"
"Your sacrifice," the voice says as though it explains everything and in actual fact, it sort of does. "You willing gave your life to protect another without an ulterior motive, and with no evil in your heart. A human would go straight to Heaven for such an act. But you are one of the Fallen and so, you have come to this place. You can think of it as a crossroads of sorts."
"Heaven, Hell, or Earth?" Crowley suggests hopefully, and he gets the impression that the voice is shaking his head apologetically, which is of course impossible.
"More a fork in the road than crossroads."
Crowley pauses for a moment to think.
"So, am I right in guessing that you're a representative of Heaven, as it were?"
"You are correct."
"And you're offering me my wings back? Despite all of the terrible misdeeds that I've been a part of or instigated during the past?"
"We are offering you a task. There is a prophecy," the voice intones, and Crowley has a feeling that he knows what's coming next. "A prophecy concerning the apocalypse."
"Already had that one. Remember? About fifteen years ago, only it didn't take," he points out.
"This is different. This has been foretold since before the beginning of Time, before you existed. It states that a righteous man in Hell shall begin the apocalypse, and the same righteous man shall end it."
"And you want me to stop this guy from starting the apocalypse, am I right?"
"No," the voice says flatly. "Though you have shown a remarkable aptitude for that. No, you are not to stop him, but rather to help him complete the prophecy."
"Would it not just be easier to stop it happening at all? Find this righteous man and tell him what not to do? Nip it in the bud, that sort of thing?"
"It is not a matter of what is easy, Crowley," the voice says, and it almost sounds disapproving. "This is all part of the Ineffable Plan."
"As if anyone actually understands the Ineffable Plan," Crowley scoffs. There is a pause.
If Crowley had been in possession of a body at that point, he would be shivering somewhat and trying to shrink in on himself, because this is a voice that he hasn't heard in over six thousand years. No wonder he didn't recognise it.
"Oh," he says.
There was another pause.
"So you're saying that if I do this for you, then I get my wings back? I become a fully-fledged angel again, complete with the halo and desperate need to do good, that sort of thing?"
"As well as your name. You do remember your name, I presume?"
"Yeah, I remember it."
"Then you accept our terms?"
"Hang on," Crowley says, trying to raise a hand and failing. "What about Aziraphale?"
"What about him?"
"Well, he's a sensitive sort of chap and he was keeping an eye on me after I'd been shot, and we've been friends for several thousand years so he'll probably he concerned that I've gone and died on his bed. Or disappeared, or whatever's happened to the body that I'm wearing. Er. I mean, can I explain it to him?"
"No," comes the answer, short and simple. "Your existence shall be removed from his consciousness."
"Oh, well that's all right then."
"Then you accept?"
"Whoa, slow down," Crowley stalls, because whilst this all sounds very promising, there's probably a catch. There usually is when you're a demon dealing with Upstairs. They're a remarkably bitter sort of people, considering they're meant to be the good ones. "Can't you tell me anything else about this prophecy? What it's going to actually entail, how the apocalypse is coming this time? It's not another Antichrist, is it?"
"Lucifer will rise."
"It is important that you understand, Crowley. Lucifer cannot enter onto the plane of the humans in his own form – he is bound as he was when he Fell, and cannot walk freely amongst the Children in the world that was created for them. This is his punishment."
"But he was going to, when his Son refused to cause Armageddon," Crowley reminds Him. He can still remember the fear of that evening, the rumbling beneath his feet of his master coming to the surface. It's not the sort of thing that one forgets that easily.
"He would have taken a vessel," the voice says simply, and Crowley feels a sickening lurch in his stomach.
"You mean me?"
"If he had chosen you, then you would have found yourself forced into your true demonic form before he could possess you. A human body cannot withstand the presence of Lucifer, he must possess someone that has been prepared and is strong enough to hold him in. No, it is more likely that he would have chosen his Son to be his vessel at that moment in time."
"And now, he has a vessel prepared and waiting for him."
"That is correct."
"But you don't want me to get rid of the vessel."
"No. Your job is to assist the human that will avert the apocalypse."
Crowley wants to say no. He wants to pretend that all of this hasn't happened, and he can just go back to his flat in London and have a nap, and then take his worst-performing plant to its new home in a small Soho bookshop and have a cup of tea with its owner whilst discussing the decade.
But he can't. Going back to Earth, it appears, is not one of his options and of the two that are facing him, taking back his wings and his name looks to be the safer bet. He was never particularly good at the angel lark – there was a reason that he Fell, after all – and he'll get some stick for ever being a demon. It won't be easy, he's not going to kid himself. But it's still the better option.
"Well. I don't really have much of a choice, do I?" he says glumly.
"Then do you accept our terms, and are willing to become an angel once more, take up again your old name and your rank and battalion and take on the task that you have been set?"
"Er, yeah. I guess I do."
"Then it is done."
And as quickly as he found himself in non-existence he's suddenly standing on the top of a hill. It's not one that he recognises but there are sigils and symbols all in a circle around him and he's standing in the middle of the circle like he hasn't done in over six thousand years.
Something inside himself has changed, he knows that much. He feels almost the same way that he did before he Fell – there's a fierce obedience simmering through his mind and a complete belief in the plans of God, as well as no sense of humour and his love of humanity has decreased to a passing tolerance.
But there's something else, too. It's not easy, turning angels to demons or vice versa because the base instincts of the two are so wildly different, the inclinations and desires and needs are so at odds. And because it's not easy there's always a bit that gets missed. It's the same small section of his immortal soul that had Aziraphale had seen in him, that spark of goodness, and the same fleeting bit of angel left in him that led him to make the sacrifice in the first place.
And this time, as the transition is made from demon to angel, there's that little bit extra interference along the way, and that little bit extra is messed up and not quite in line with the rest of his thoughts. The largest of the murky areas is called Doubt, and he gets the feeling that it will be coming back to haunt him quite soon.
ARE YOU READY? asks the voice, shining in the sun that's beating down brightly from above on the gorgeous summer's afternoon, in the deep blue sky, and reverberating through his new body. He nods.
"How long before it starts?"
NOW. THE FIRST SEAL HAS ALREADY BEEN BROKEN.
He takes a deep breath.
COME, CASTIEL. WE HAVE WORK FOR YOU.