One of the reasons why I love Good Omens fic so much is that it's so down-to-earth and yet otherworldly. There are angels and demons and other fantastical characters, and sometimes fandom makes them sleep together, but even without the sex there's all sorts of interesting things to write about!
Like death. Not DEATH, or Death, but you know, death. The loss of a body. It's got to be an issue for our favorite two wile-and-thwarters, and, well, I was curious as to how one (say, Crowley) would react whenever the other (say, Aziraphale) would... die. Or discorporate.
This fic is... ah, slightly thinky, vaguely humorous, immensely morbid, and themes of death and suicide are tossed around like pennies-- though I think I've written it rather respectfully. And it's unbetaed. Ha. :D
That said, feedback would be lovely. It's not as tight as I'd like it to be; any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks for reading!
Title: He kindly stopped for me
Rating: PG-13 for aformentioned morbidities.
Pairing: None! Le gasp.
Fandom: Good Omens
Disclaimer: It's not mine, really.
Notes: It's one of the more unusual fics I've written, methinks.
It’s true that Aziraphale and Crowley will never die, according to the standard definition of the word. That’s the nice thing about being immortal— you tend to live forever. But bodies, of course, wear down eventually, and sometimes that bus comes rocketing around a rainy corner just an instant too soon or that last alcoholic drink goes down laced with something sinister, and all of a sudden you’re thrown into the air, hovering over your dead body, looking at your feet and thinking, gosh, I wonder if that hurt?
It’s only happened a few times over the millennia: both angel and demon have mastered the all-too useful skill of staying out of trouble and besides, getting a new body is such a hassle1. As a rule, Aziraphale is the more cautious one, while Crowley simply doesn’t hesitate to improbably wiggle his way out of a tricky situation. And if someone’s going to be taking a bullet for an innocent soul— well, there was that one time in Poland that Crowley would rather not think about, but in any case it’s usually the angel throwing himself in front of harm’s way.
When Aziraphale finds himself viewing his own limp figure from an altogether unprecedented angle he sighs, miracles away the bloodstains appearing on his tweed jacket, and wishes to high heaven that that innocent kid he’s just rescued will grow up to be a saint or at the least a decent human being2. Then he unfurls his ghostly wings, casts a last sad glance at his crumpled figure, and promises himself he’ll diet in his next corporation.
But the thing about Aziraphale dying— as much as he can die, at any rate— is that, well, Crowley always finds out. And a few days, or weeks, or months after the fact, Crowley doesn’t much care about buses on wet roads or thunderstorms or “CAUTION EXPLOSIONS MAY OCCUR” signs. Maybe he even pops a few streetlights out for kicks so that the roads go pell-mell crazy, and he cruises the Bentley right into it and there’s a spectacular crash (though of course the Bentley remains unharmed; reckless as he might be Crowley would never dent his baby).
That’s what happens this time, at any rate. When in the 1880s Aziraphale gave a little gasp, coughed on his cyanide-tinged tea, turned blue and died, Crowley very studiously ignored where he was walking for the next two weeks, until finally a cliff got the better of him and he descended, smirking, into the hereafter.
He’s very imaginative.
Crowley would say it’s because he doesn’t want to be older than Aziraphale; that he wants his human-esque body to be just as fresh and twice as appealing, but in truth it gets a little lonely on Earth with no fussy angels around. Not that he needs more than one Aziraphale, thank you. But the sentiment stands.
So Aziraphale will spiral up into Heaven after doing something or other fatally heroic, and about three weeks later Crowley will saunter into Hell asking for a new body, and that would actually work quite well if it weren’t for the fact that Aziraphale almost always gets his back before Crowley does.
This leads to some problems of a certain unusual nature.
After the whole bloodstains-dark-alley-Bentley-crash incident, Aziraphale finds himself in a pleasantly familiar body, slightly taller than his last, and he waits precisely four days alone in London, alone in the world, before he gets the unholy itchy feeling in the back of his mind that tells him Crowley is back on Earth.
“Hi,” the demon says, conveniently manifesting in the bookshop. “You’re back.”
“Hello, Crowley,” Aziraphale replies, giving him a look. “I see you’ve returned as well.”
“What do you mean?” Crowley asks, feigning innocence (which isn’t something any demon is good at, though Crowley’s certainly given it a go) and Aziraphale looks harder. “I’ve always been here.”
“Mm-hmm,” Aziraphale answers. “Your funeral was lovely. I cried.”
Crowley takes off his sunglasses and cleans them rather unnecessarily on his sleeve. “I had a funeral?”
Aziraphale blinks owlishly. “Yes. You always do.”
“What the f— who organizes them?”
Crowley gapes, looking as though he could say any of a number of things, but Aziraphale waves it away impatiently, gesturing with a flustered hand. “Look, Crowley, I appreciate the sentiment but honestly, isn’t there a better way to cope with my deaths than walking in front of a bus?”
“Uh, to be exact, it was a car crash this time…”
The look returns. “Crowley.”
The demon shrugs. “When you’re not around, I don’t exactly have a purpose.”
Aziraphale sourly raises an eyebrow. “Isn’t temptation a sort of twenty-four-seven pursuit, regardless of who’s thwarting?”
“It’s not as much fun when I know you’re not going to try to stop me.”
Aziraphale remains silent in that prickly sort of way which means that there will be words, and soon, if Crowley doesn’t catch on. Which the demon does: snake eyes widening and then narrowing in a halfhearted defense.
“Oh, bugger, don’t make me say it,” Crowley mutters.
“Say what?” Aziraphale asks innocently (and yet sinisterly— something angels are immensely good at3).
A beat— Crowley fidgets uncomfortably and then speaks in a quick burst, as if he thinks planning the words out will cause them to revolt and go all bloody murder on his tongue. “Okay, okay, I missed you. Miss you. Whenever you’re dead. That’s why I go off and walk in front of buses. There. I said it.”
He glances over at Aziraphale in an attempt to read his reaction, but rather than pride or even triumph, a sort of unearthly sadness settles into the new lines of the angel’s brow. It’s really very bewildering.
“Oh, Crowley,” Aziraphale says quietly. “Do you think I like watching you die?”
Well, that’s news. “I didn’t think you ever saw me die,” Crowley says quickly, backpedaling. “I mean, you were always dead first—”
“I can watch things from Heaven,” Aziraphale murmurs. “That’s how I keep an eye on human shenanigans while waiting for my new body.”
“Did you just say shenanigans?”
“That’s beside the point, Crowley.” Aziraphale reaches forward and puts a hand on the demon’s arm. “This is the third time this century. And yet… your deaths are always so…” he falters, and stares at his hand on Crowley’s arm, as if he has to make sure they’re both really there. Just in case. “They’re so pointless,” he finishes, resigned. “Why do you even do it?”
Crowley looks down at his new shoes, wondering how many funerals Aziraphale has organized for him from his seat in heaven, no doubt pulling more than a few strings. And for him.
It’s more than a little terrifying.
“Whenever you die,” Crowley blurts out, jerking his arm back, “it reminds me that we can’t. Not really, you know? And suddenly I don’t care anymore. It’s just discorporation. We haven’t really lived. Don’t you ever feel that way?”
“Must you die in order to feel as though you have lived?”
“Well, no. But… don’t you ever feel meaningless sometimes? Like you’re in a world that doesn’t belong to you?”
“Yes,” Aziraphale answers firmly, much to the demon’s surprise. “I do feel meaningless sometimes. But I don’t go running in front of buses. I go out and do good deeds.”
“Okay,” Crowley says, after a pause, his voice forcedly easy. “Well, that settles things. Next time I off myself I’ll be sure to go out with a good deed.”
Aziraphale stares at him for a long moment, and if he were the sort, Crowley would quail. As is, he meets the angel’s stare for a bit and then lets his gaze fall to somewhere around nose level. Because Aziraphale isn’t exactly the type to get mad, per se, but he’s alarmingly capable of that steely, fire-and-brimstone self-righteous disappointment that makes even Crowley want to curl up with a bible and, well, die. Or pray.
“You miss me and you feel meaningless? That’s it? That’s why you go out and die?”
“About that much, yeah,” Crowley answers, rubbing the back of his neck with a hand. “I’ve mastered the whole new-body-process down in Hell,” he adds defensively. “It’s not as though I go through much trouble.”
There are so many things wrong with that statement that it would be ridiculous to even begin, but Aziraphale is persistent— and evasive. “Why don’t you live for me instead?” he asks, voice gentling. “It’d be so much better. You could even get into the spirit of things,” he adds with a nudge. “Go out and do some thwarting while I’m off waiting for my own paperwork to go through.”
Crowley makes a face. “Nah.”
“Well, if that’s how you feel—” Aziraphale retorts indignantly—
“You should live, too,” Crowley says. “Not for other people. For yourself.”
Aziraphale looks taken aback, which doesn’t happen often, and adjusts the collar of his admittedly hideous sweater (which does happen often—the sweater, that is, and it really shouldn’t).
“I understand the value of bodies,” he answers slowly. “But certainly it’s worth it to lose a body for someone who can actually die. Er. Isn’t that right?”
Crowley shrugs. “Call it what you will, but dying for a good cause doesn’t make it any better to take, does it?”
“I should think that it does,” Aziraphale says primly. “I’ve saved lives, and doubtless those humans have grown up to be good people.”
“Maybe.” For a moment the angel thinks the discussion’s over, and then Crowley continues; his tone changing in a way Aziraphale can’t quite recognize. “But that’s not what I meant. You know, I don’t like watching you get offed, either.”
“Oh,” Aziraphale says, quite lamely. “Really?”
Crowley nods. “Imagine that.”
“So… how about we both live, then?” Aziraphale beams. “You know. Value our time as if we’ll actually die when we discorporate.”
“What, like the humans do?”
Aziraphale nods. “It could be fun.”
“Not bloody likely,” Crowley mutters, rolling his eyes, but when Aziraphale smiles and takes his hand and squeezes it he doesn’t even shudder, and his brand-new body feels suddenly at home.
1: You wouldn’t imagine the dastardly insurance policies Hell comes up with. Of course, those are mostly due to Crowley. Heaven, on the other hand, has a standard claim-and-release, but the paperwork generally takes an eternity to go through because the offices are always closed on Sundays and weekday afternoons are reserved for self-confidence support groups.
2: Actually, the kid does a quite a good job with life, becoming one of those ubiquitous multimillionaires who give half of everything they earn to charity. This may or may not have something to do with Crowley.
3: One word: Gabriel.