[personal profile] a_fell
From: Prior Ezra Fell - [encrypted]
To: Andronicus Ji Crowley - [encrypted]
Subject: Regrets
Priority: Low

My dear,

I'm afraid I'll be unable to join you this weekend. A sort of emergency has cropped up here on Persephone, involving a local farmhand, a llama, and several sheep. I'm so sorry. Please make my sincere apologies to the senator, and enjoy yourself.

--A

*


From: Prior Ezra Fell - [encrypted]
To: Andronicus Ji Crowley - [encrypted]
Subject: I AM COMING
Priority: HIGH

I wasn't going to write because I wanted it to be a surprise, but I am on my way, and have been for several days. I look to arrive at Londinium on Thursday. I could not mistake your distress, and I'll be sending you a cleaning bill. You know how difficult it is to get molded protein out of wool-silk blend, and the captain really did not appreciate my asking for a second helping after I splattered my first all over the table, the floor, and my lap.

Please tell me you're all right. The news waves have been strange, and chaotic, and the footage they've shown looks--

Please write at your earliest convenience.

--A

*


From: Prior Ezra Fell - [encrypted]
To: Andronicus Ji Crowley - [encrypted]
Subject: CHECK YOUR TERMINAL
Priority: EXTREMELY HIGH

Obviously you're busy and i understand that, but honestly would it kill you to sit at your terminal for five seconds and write me?

*


From: Prior Ezra Fell - [encrypted]
To: Andronicus Ji Crowley - [encrypted]
Subject: I didn't mean to shout.
Priority: Slightly less high, but threatening to erupt into dire at any moment

What's happened? Is River injured as well? I'm going to start waving the hospitals once we are within range, so I know whereto find you.

*


From: Prior Ezra Fell - [encrypted]
To: Andronicus Ji Crowley - [encrypted]
Subject: Hello?
Priority: Quite low, apparently

Hello?

*


From: Prior Ezra Fell - [encrypted]
To: Andronicus Ji Crowley - [encrypted]
Subject: oh, gosh
Priority: almost nonexistent

you're in a coma or something aren't you? you're stuck in a coma in some hospital and you've been horribly disfigured so no one recognizes you and your i.d. has beeneaten by wild dogs or nick rosse's secretary and i'm stuck on some stupid ship typing with two fingers and my hands are cramped and this fellow tobias with whom i have been sharing a bunk, breathing space, and the philosophy of modern animal husbandry keeps looking over my shoulder because he's in some sort of dire need to look up something to do with hedgehogs and i don't want to know do i? please don't be disfigured beyond recognition and in a coma. i know it's beena while, but i can't do that again.

*


From: Prior Ezra Fell - [encrypted]
To: Andronicus Ji Crowley - [encrypted]
Subject: IGNORE THAT LAST
Priority: Medium

WE ARE ARRIVING IN THREE HOURS. I EXPECT AN EXPLANATION.

And tea, love, I'm so very tired. I detest travel.

You had better be well. All of you.

--A

Date: 2007-08-10 03:16 am (UTC)
aj_crawley: (andronicus - formalities)
From: [personal profile] aj_crawley
Andronicus Crowley slouches a little lower in his uncomfortable plastic chair, tiredly wondering why even the most expensive of private hospitals seem unable to stock their cafeterias with anything but the vilest-tasting coffee, or to serve it in anything but the sort of undersized, faintly stained coffee cup that the demon is currently nursing.

Like the rest of the building, the cafeteria here is all spare lines and sparse furnishings, and it lends the clink of dishes and subdued murmurings of other washed-out diners a curiously tinny quality. It doesn't bother Crowley overmuch, though - this is the umpteenth cup of coffee he's had here since the attempted assassination of Senator Gabriel Tam, the day before yesterday. In point of fact, it's one of the more peaceful places he's found; the hospital has thus far managed to keep out the reporters and journalists slavering for eyewitness accounts, comments from associates of the senator, and the gorier details of the attack.

They're bad enough, in fact, that within hours of the incident, Crowley'd had to resort to simply turning off his home and mobile Cortex terminals.

He really hasn't worked up the energy to turn them back on, yet.

Date: 2007-08-10 03:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
There's a scuffle outside the open doorway, the sort of scuffle that can only be the result of a person tripping over several carts of supplies and scattering them across a wide expanse of hallway, blocking traffic irreparably. Profuse apologies follow.

A few long moments later, a tall, blond man stumbles into the cafeteria, satchel in hand. He's pale, and rumpled, wearing the dust of a week's travel aboard a rickety rust-bucket of a ship. His eyes scan over the room's occupants once without recognition, then stop. Go back.

"Bloody-- Crowley," he says, his voice thick with a heady mix of emotions, before he weaves around table after table as quickly as he can manage -- "Excuse me, pardon me, please, madame, control your toddler" -- and grabs Andronicus Ji Crowley out of his chair and into his arms.

"Idiot. Do you never check your messages?"

Date: 2007-08-10 03:45 am (UTC)
aj_crawley: (andronicus - formalities)
From: [personal profile] aj_crawley
"What," Crowley begins blankly, blinking in surprise at the view over Aziraphael's shoulder.

Meetings of distraught friends and relatives are not a particularly uncommon sight in a hospital cafeteria; after a moment or two, the patrons turn disinterestedly back to their unappetising fare. Nobody's looking, then, at the exact moment when Crowley realises two things:

1) right now, he doesn't care what Aziraphael is doing here, because

2) right now, Aziraphael is here.

Nobody's looking, when Crowley nearly lifts the angel off his feet.

Date: 2007-08-10 03:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
"Oof. My dear," Aziraphael squeaks, patting Crowley's back floppily. "I don't need to breathe, per se, but I do find it enjoyable."

Date: 2007-08-10 03:54 am (UTC)
aj_crawley: (andronicus - formalities)
From: [personal profile] aj_crawley
" - Yes," Crowley says, hurriedly releasing Aziraphael and glancing guiltily around the hall for spectators. "Er, sorry."


"Er."


Inasmuch as it's possible to tell, behind the opaque lenses of Crowley's sunglasses, he's staring, rather.

Date: 2007-08-10 03:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
The flush of pure joy that Aziraphael feels, has always felt, upon standing in close proximity to Crowley after a long absence, fades. He folds his arms and shifts, his face settling into lines of fatigue, frustration.

"I wrote you."

This is an understatement.

Date: 2007-08-10 04:08 am (UTC)
aj_crawley: (andronicus - formalities)
From: [personal profile] aj_crawley
"You did?" Crowley replies, confused. And then, in sudden, guilty realisation, "...Oh."

Cringing slightly, he shifts his weight from one foot to the other, and scuffs the floor defensively with the heel of his boot.

"I sort of. Went into blackout mode after the first fifteen waves from vultures wanting to know about the - incident. I haven't turned anything on since the day before yesterday."

Date: 2007-08-10 04:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
Aziraphael exhales slowly through his nose, his lips pressed into a tight line. "I was-- worried." His stance softens, and he reaches out, his hand circling Crowley's wrist. "Is there somewhere...?"

Date: 2007-08-10 04:25 am (UTC)
aj_crawley: (andronicus - formalities)
From: [personal profile] aj_crawley
"Not really, but - well. Better than here, at least. Follow me."

Tossing a few credits onto the table to pay for his coffee, Crowley leads the way from the cafeteria. The hospital is a little confusing to navigate, but it's not too long before they reach the ward containing Gabriel Tam's private room. The corridors are lined, at intervals, with small alcoves containing armchairs or a sofa, a low table with a random selection of newspapers, and more often than not, a tasteful potted plant.

Crowley finds one near the very end of a hallway. The room opposite is unoccupied, and Gabriel's security is several corners away. There's nobody else around.

Date: 2007-08-10 04:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
As soon as they stop walking, the angel steps close again, his hands twisting in Crowley's jacket, their foreheads almost brushing. "You have no idea what it was like, feeling that happen and then hearing no word. The Cortex has been jammed with conflicting reports, none of them remotely credible, and all I could think was that you were hurt and unable to reply." His mouth brushes Crowley's sharp cheekbone. "What happened?"

Date: 2007-08-10 04:44 am (UTC)
aj_crawley: (andronicus - formalities)
From: [personal profile] aj_crawley
"Since when do you follow news reports?" Crowley mutters, breathing in the scent of Aziraphael's hair, then puffing at a strand that tickles his nose. "If I thought you'd gotten wind of it, I'd've contacted you, but I thought you had that emergency, whatever it was, and," his hands curl lightly around the angel's arms as he trails off.

After a moment, he shakes his head.

"Raguel. It was Raguel."

Date: 2007-08-10 04:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
Aziraphael rears back, blue eyes wide. The feeling of betrayal has never faded, along with... not guilt. But something like it, hovering along the edges of his mind along with the scent of Earl Grey and the dusty smell of a Scrabble board. Sense memory prickles over him, and then is gone, leaving empty disappointment in its wake.

"Oh. Well."

He clears his throat.

"I suppose I should stop feeling surprised by things like this."

Date: 2007-08-10 05:14 am (UTC)
aj_crawley: (andronicus - formalities)
From: [personal profile] aj_crawley
"He wasn't - " Crowley says, looking distressed. "It wasn't like that. Nic Rosse set him off. He - the IIGA - he thought he was coming after a war-monger, or somesuch. I spoke to him, though. He won't touch Tam again. I mean, you know - "

It's like probing at a missing tooth - the disconcerting absence, the lack of explanation for the hot flush of anger (dulling, inevitably, to a murky horror) Crowley has to tamp down whenever the subject comes up.

Of course - he's angry, of course, because Raguel - well. And horrified. Of course. But... what?

"He won't," the demon repeats.

Date: 2007-08-10 11:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
"I wish I had your confidence," Aziraphael replies on a low laugh, because Crowley's confidence seems... not so solid. "He won't, now, you say, but he is so easily manipulated by half-truths now." His hand lifts to cup Crowley's cheek. "Surely you see that."

Date: 2007-08-10 11:30 pm (UTC)
aj_crawley: (andronicus - formalities)
From: [personal profile] aj_crawley
"He won't always be."

It's a science, finding what's hidden by flat-black sunglasses and reading it in the corners of Crowley's mouth and the set of Crowley's jaw instead.

For the heel of a hand, broad palm, long fingers, it's there to be read in braille.

"It's not so bad, once you get used to it."

Date: 2007-08-10 11:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
And there, again, the tide of bitter regret, of guilt, of having been--

And gone.

Aziraphael shakes his head, as much to clear it as to disagree. "I don't want to get used to it. I loved you after. He was my friend before."

He swallows, a human gesture.

"I don't feel that I know that being now."

Date: 2007-08-10 11:56 pm (UTC)
aj_crawley: (andronicus - formalities)
From: [personal profile] aj_crawley
"It gets better," Crowley insists, chin jutting mulishly as he looks down towards the floor. "What we are isn't who we are. We know that. I mean, am I - "

He breaks off, huffing an abbreviated, uncertain sigh. The faint sheen of old scars, like skin sanded to a shine, gleams on Crowley's throat (the Adam's apple, they call it) and beneath Crowley's shirt collar as he swallows.

"Who Raguel is is still in there somewhere."

Date: 2007-08-11 12:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
Aziraphael merely nods, conceding for the moment, his eyes sliding shut. "How is Senator Tam?"

Date: 2007-08-11 12:11 am (UTC)
aj_crawley: (andronicus - grin)
From: [personal profile] aj_crawley
"Not the best he's ever been," Crowley replies with a sudden, quiet snort. "But holding up, even if he won't be on his feet for a while."

Date: 2007-08-11 12:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
Aziraphael passes a hand over his eyes, sighing. He pulls Crowley to sit on the couch, hands twisting in his lap. "What happened? Leave nothing out."

Date: 2007-08-11 12:21 am (UTC)
aj_crawley: (andronicus - scar)
From: [personal profile] aj_crawley
"It probably looked a lot more exciting on the news," he warns. "Tam was in the middle of his speech when it happened. I'd been sort of - I thought maybe I could feel something, but I wasn't sure if I was imagining it. You know how sometimes it just... slides off Raguel."

Date: 2007-08-11 12:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
A nod. "I do. He was always good at nondescript." One of the restless hands flutters over to grip Crowley's wrist, as if he can't quite keep away. "I shall have to visit the entire family. Is everyone still on Londinium?"

Date: 2007-08-11 12:34 am (UTC)
aj_crawley: (andronicus - formalities)
From: [personal profile] aj_crawley
"River and Simon," he says, nodding. "Coming and going through Milliways. I haven't seen any of the others yet, but I wouldn't be surprised."

Crowley slowly turns his hand over in Aziraphael's grip, closing his fingers around the angel's wrist in turn, even as he winces.

The skin of his palms feels... strange, and curiously warmer than usual.

Date: 2007-08-11 12:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
"Hm," Aziraphael replies, his attention caught. He looks down, shifts his grip on Crowley, his mouth falling open.

"...What did this?"

The question's a formality, really. He knows what did this.

Date: 2007-08-11 12:45 am (UTC)
aj_crawley: (andronicus - formalities)
From: [personal profile] aj_crawley
"Er," he says, examining the mottled red and blistering white of his burnt palm. "Galadan - Tam's new security, you remember I was telling you - he sort of. Well, it was messy, and after he got the family out, Raguel was starting to go up like - you've seen him heal before. Like a Unification Day bonfire. And this was a big one. I had to hide him."

Date: 2007-08-11 12:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
Aziraphael sags, his shoulder brushing Crowley's, and his voice, when he speaks, trembles low. "Idiot. I know you had to-- When I think--" He breaks off.

"Can you please attempt to avoid mortal and immortal peril when you go out in public?"

Date: 2007-08-11 01:07 am (UTC)
aj_crawley: (andronicus - his people)
From: [personal profile] aj_crawley
"I don't go looking for it," Crowley protests. "But what can I say."

His hand closes (lightly) around Aziraphael's again, and he twists enough to lean in, and

(and it's like this every time, so that it no longer feels strange that the solid reassurance of touching Aziraphael after so long can also knock him off his feet)

and press lips, parted but chaste, against Aziraphael's.

"It's just not the same," he whispers, "when I don't have you around to keep me out of trouble."

Date: 2007-08-11 01:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
Aziraphael smiles ruefully, his cheeks pink, and lifts his free hand to trace along the jagged scar on Crowley's cheek. "Don't I know it." Their mouths brush again before he pulls back. "Being practically on the opposite ends of the solar system redefines personal space, I should think."

Date: 2007-08-11 01:27 am (UTC)
aj_crawley: (inscrutable)
From: [personal profile] aj_crawley
"Hmph," Crowley replies, dangerously close to opening his mouth and falling into that same old argument.

But then he pauses.



"Well," he finally says. "Everyone here seems very taken with Gladrags Gore-fest. And how many families really need more than one manipulative immortal looking out for their needs? When the IIGA starts to expand my large-scale trade interests out towards the Rim..."

Date: 2007-08-11 01:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
"--I'll do everything in my power to dissuade your corporate lackeys and counsel the common man, as usual, my dear," Aziraphael counters, squeezing his hand. "It wouldn't be fun otherwise."

Date: 2007-08-11 01:44 am (UTC)
aj_crawley: (andronicus - scar)
From: [personal profile] aj_crawley
" - Ow."

Wriggling his hand free, Crowley gives Aziraphael a Look.

"That wasn't what I meant. I meant, I meant - "


"Forget it. And anyway," he rallies, "Bentley Aeronautics hardware will be going to build durable and effective defenses for the outer planets against the threat of Reavers. And all that."

Date: 2007-08-11 01:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
And just like that, all hint of teasing fades from Aziraphael's face.

"Now, that would be a miracle indeed. I suppose you'd have to spend some time on the Rim, promoting said durable and effective defenses?" He smiles, suddenly tender. "You--" A furtive look around the empty hallway. "I think I should like to retire to someplace less--public."

A breath.

"For-- tea. Yes."

Date: 2007-08-11 01:58 am (UTC)
aj_crawley: (andronicus - his people)
From: [personal profile] aj_crawley
"Did you, er."

The hints of a smile, one with the makings of the broadest and brightest in - how long? - are tugging at Crowley's mouth.

"Did you want to see the senator, at all?"

Date: 2007-08-11 02:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
"--Er."

Aziraphael blushes the red of a Companion's cherry lipstick, and flails a bit.

"Yes. I. Yes, I'm sorry, I quite forgot," he mumbles, mortified.

Date: 2007-08-11 02:07 am (UTC)
aj_crawley: (andronicus - his people)
From: [personal profile] aj_crawley
"He's not in great shape, like I said," the demon continues calmly. "Can't really have visitors for too long, you know."

Date: 2007-08-11 02:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
"Well, I'm hardly going to launch into a philosophical debate with the man, my dear," Aziraphael replies waspishly, annoyed at having been so distracted. "I'll pop in, say hello, offer succor, and leave him to recover in peace."

He subsides, ruffled feathers smoothing out. "He and I shall have a long conversation, I'm sure, when he's up to it."

Date: 2007-08-11 02:19 am (UTC)
aj_crawley: (andronicus - scar)
From: [personal profile] aj_crawley
"I'll wait here?" Crowley suggests, his grin turning a little wry, a little rueful. "I'm a bit of a persona non gratis at the moment, especially if River's in there. And I don't trust you to find your way back downstairs on your own."

Date: 2007-08-11 02:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
"All right," Aziraphael replies, one blond eyebrow arching up at this new information. He leans forward to press his mouth to Crowley's one more time before standing and getting his bearings. "I won't be long. I've been dying to try that new oolong blend you got from that shop on Osiris."

With that, he bumbles his way into the correct room, after popping his head into no less than four incorrect rooms along the way.

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