Crowley observes a death.
Author's Note: This definitely isn't as dark and angsty as my last long fic, but it's not as lighthearted as I hoped it would be. It's kind of a character piece that sort of wanders about. I just felt like writing this snippet as I've had it dancing in my head for awhile now.
The Sky's the Limit
The screech of tires and the metal to bone thud was effectively interrupted and muffled by the guitar riffs that slammed through the headphones that were securely wrapped around Crowley's ears. The volume was set at 30, though the numbers on the dial technically only went up to 10. By all rights, a person would have been rendered deaf at such a volume. Such a volume also should have been impossible to attain. Then again, so was a choice parking spot in SoHo. Crowley had managed both.
When I die and they lay me to rest
Gonna go to the place that's the best
When I lay me down to die
Goin' up to the spirit in the sky
Whistling lightly to the tune, the demon regarded the small crowd of people that had rapidly gathered around the prone figure. From his seat on the rooftop of a nearby building, Crowley mentally shook his head at the twittering, useless bunch.
Call the bloody paramedics, you sodding morons
Not that it would really matter. This one's number was up. The farm had been bought, lease signed and keys handed over. A simple case of "mind that taxi, what taxi? crunch."
"Bet that smarted," muttered Crowley, looking at the sprawled, broken man on the street. Uncapping the bottle he had brought with him, the demon took a long swig and let the alcohol burn and tear its way down his throat as the song smashing out of his headphones did the musical equivalent to his ears. Some person in the crowd seemed to have caught on and was now dialing for some assistance on their mobile, though the situation looked and was hopeless.
Poor Albert Suss, thought Crowley. He had only been 45, still had a few years left in him, health-wise, despite the excessive drinking and smoking. He could have gone on for at least another ten. But now he was no more than a glorified speed bump. Technically, Albert was still somewhat alive. Crowley knew that Albert wouldn't really be dead until-ah yes, here it was.
On the far side, across the street, the demon could make out the golden head of his counterpart, despite the fact he was several feet away. In the olden days, seeing Aziraphale at moments like this had been fairly easy. The angel used to go the full stretch of exposing the wings and wearing his armor on the occasion of a human soul going upward. But all that changing clothes had grown a little too tedious for the angel. Now he just showed up to bid the soul a fond "hello" and a "on your way, then."
It struck Crowley as somewhat ironic that Aziraphale was looking so beatifically happy and pleased at Albert's mangled body. The demon had brought up his observation once to the angel the last time they had met up to watch the departure of a young construction worker after his unfortunate run-in with a falling steel beam.
"His soul is going to heaven, Crowley. What could be more wonderful?"
"You're grinning at the pulpy remains of man. Doesn't that strike you as just a little bit incongruous?"
"I'm happy he's going home."
"Your Home. Not his. Not mine."
Prepare yourself you know it's a must
Gotta have a friend in Jesus
So you know that when you die
He's gonna recommend you
To the spirit in the sky
Gonna recommend you
To the spirit in the sky
Crowley knew that it was a common belief by most humans that heaven was the target location. It was the place you WANTED to end up. It was the set goal. Aziraphale had once smugly told him long ago that such a belief worked in the angel's favor. Crowley had then pointed out rather sardonically that while that was true, humans by nature were awfully bad at meeting any kind of goals and obligations. That's what worked in HIS favor.
If the demon had a say in the matter, he would have told Albert that while heaven is good for getting a little peace and quiet, it wasn't exactly a choice place to get those curries Albert is..or was so fond of. Nor would he be meeting his heroes Sid Vicious or Kurt Cobain now.EVER. Yeah, heaven was heaven with all its blissful peace. Albert probably wouldn't care anymore who Vicious was or what a really good chicken curry tasted like. Crowley thought that was a bloody shame.
The demon tilted the bottle again, letting the liquid pour into his mouth, while keeping an eye on the events below. Paramedics had shown up now and they went on being as useless as the crowd, albeit looking very efficient in their uselessness. Sensing the time of death being near, Crowley roved his glance toward Aziraphale who was still all smiles.
The dark blue eyes that had been staring downward at poor Albert, was now slowly glancing up, following some upward movement of some sort. Crowley didn't bother to look back at Albert's body to see if he could catch a glimpse of the departing soul. He knew he wouldn't see it. That ability had been knocked out of him awhile back. Although one time he had concentrated really hard and thought he had seen something akin to faint wisps of smoke rising from a human body.
"Crowley, the man had been struck by lightening. Of course there was smoke," Aziraphale had pointed out.
"But it was rising well after the blast. I think it was his soul."
"It was not!"
"Bet it was."
"A soul is much more than a few tendrils of smoke. You know that. You've seen a soul."
"Yeah. And all the souls I've seen are smoky."
"I suppose for you it would fit in with the 'burning in hell' theme."
Whoa set me up with the spirit in the sky
That's where I'm gonna go when I die
When I die and they lay me to rest
I'm gonna go to the place that's the best
Crowley bobbed his head slightly to the music and noticed Aziraphale staring up now at the clouds above them. Judging by his expression, Albert must have gone up with no troubles. Looking downward, Crowley saw the white sheet being thrown over Albert's empty body. Lifting his nearly empty bottle toward the covered figure, the demon saluted the now officially deceased and passed on Albert Suss.
"S'long, mate. Nice seein' ya."
While Albert hadn't been anyone too special, Crowley had run into him before. He strangely recalled with crystal clarity having been around the first time Albert had ever gotten high with his mates from school. The recollection lowered the demon's mood a little as he knew with absolute certainty that he would never ever see Albert ever again.
Something tapped his shoulder from behind. Pulling the bottle away from his lips, Crowley looked up to see Aziraphale standing next to him, his mouth moving.
"What?" Crowley shouted through the music.
Aziraphale might have raised his voice a little. Aziraphale could have been screaming his head off for all Crowley could tell.
"What?" he shouted again, this time pulling one headphone away from his ear.
Aziraphale winced at the blast of music that came out while a few stray bystanders near Albert's body looked up, swearing they could hear guitars. Waving his hand, Crowley turned off his discman, abruptly cutting off the last verse. "Yes?" he asked.
"How can you listen to that noise at such a loud volume?" asked Aziraphale.
"Happily," Crowley replied. "Ascension of Albert go well, then?"
"Oh, yes," said the angel, beaming. "It was a lovely ascension."
"Yipee for him."
"He gets heaven. I'd say that certainly is cause for joy."
Re-adjusting his dark shades, Crowley looked up to the stormy clouds above them. "Yeah.but that's all he gets."
He felt, rather than saw Aziraphale's slight exasperation. The angel merely sighed and gave the demon a friendly pat on the back. "You'll get the next one."
Tilting his head to one side, Crowley smiled slyly. "Is that a promise, Aziraphale? Did you just promise me a soul?"
"Nice try, my dear," coughed Aziraphale, looking somewhat embarrassed. "It's a figure of speech."
Crowley shrugged, tucking the discman into his suit jacket. "Eh, worth a try."