“Avaunt, demons,” said a familiar voice. Crowley tried to lift his head. He managed, and stared painfully up with his good eye. Aziraphale. Glowing. Big sword in hand.
Hastur and Ligur shrank back, their expressions of gleeful malice changing to a stupid kind of fear. “We was going anyway,” mumbled Hastur, sulkily.
“. . . and that’s just the start,” Ligur added, sidling away from the angel. “The Boss is really angry with you.”
Crowley had figured that out for himself.
“I said, get thee gone.” Irritation lessened the divine resonance in Aziraphale’s voice. He waved the sword enthusiastically, and flames scurried along its razor edges.
“Fire don’t scare us,” boasted Ligur. “We like fire.”
Aziraphale leaned forward. “I’ll sing lullabies to you,” he whispered.
Crowley let his head drop and moaned soundlessly when his wounds connected with the ground. Oh, how he hated nervous systems. And demons. And everything else he could think of. . . . Which wasn’t much, because his head was spinning too much for thought.
“Crowley?” A hand touched his hair, lightly. “Are you okay?”
Crowley tried to glare, but realized that only the ground would be able to tell. His throat was swollen from Hastur’s attempt at strangulation (cancelled, as the demon had grown too bored to wait). Speaking was out of the question.
Aziraphale’s voice sounded conflicted. “I really shouldn’t heal you. There are hospitals, after all. But it would take a while to get you there, and I’m sure the poor staff is already overworked.”
Heal me, Crowley urged silently. Heal me, you bastard, or I will personally rip out your kidneys and eat them once I’m better again. He very carefully avoided the word if.
“Well, I suppose it can’t do much harm . . .” Aziraphale said thoughtfully. “Although healing you would free you to go do harm unto others. Which is a bad thing. On the other hand . . .”
Die, thought Crowley. Die a horrible painful death.
“. . . well, you seem to be in a lot of pain and I suppose I can always thwart you.”
Another hand joined the first, this one knotting itself in Crowley’s hair and gently lifting his head. He whimpered.
“Oh dear,” said Aziraphale. “You are a mess.”
Crowley tried to say, “I loathe you,” but the words got stuck somewhere between his aching rib cage and his throbbing throat. He wheezed, painfully.
Then Aziraphale pressed a hand to his forehead, and a wonderful warmth spread through Crowley. His bruises melted away, breaks and tears mended, and his throat was persuaded to return to its normal state. It felt like golden and flannel. Bliss. He lay still for a moment, gasping for breath.
Then he looked up, and thrust himself off the ground, and grabbed Aziraphale by the neck. “You . . .”
Aziraphale blinked at him. “What is the matter, dear boy? You seem agitated.”
Crowley’s mouth moved soundlessly for a few moments. “You,” he said, again, incoherently. “Angel.”
Aziraphale gently pushed Crowley’s hands from his neck. “Do calm down. Now what was all that just now?”
Crowley was reminded that there was matters more important than murdering Aziraphale, such as avoiding being murdered himself. “Oh.” He fought a losing battle with his body, and flinched visibly. “Hastur and Ligur. Hell’s after me.”
“I gathered that.” Aziraphale looked at him thoughtfully. “You still seem a bit dazed. Why don’t you come to my shop and we’ll discuss this over tea?”
“Not tea,” Crowley said warningly.
Aziraphale was doubtful. “Well, all right, if you think you’re capable of handling alcohol right now. You’re not supposed to drink too soon after a healing.”
“I don’t care.” Crowley felt curiously light, and he put a hand to his forehead. “I need . . .” Gray static filtered through his eyes. “Yarrgh,” he said, and fainted.
“Oh dear,” said Aziraphale.