“You’ll see. There isn’t anything to worry about. I don’t know why you work yourself up like this,” Crowley said, eying the pacing archangel over the rim of his glass.
“Because,” Gabriel said waving his hands, “as moronic as they are, they still manage to get things to go their way.”
“Dumb luck,” he said with a smirk. Gabriel just gave him a flat stare. So much for lightening the mood, Crowley thought. Anytime Gabriel worried like this, he got clingy once Crowley was back. Not that Crowley really minded but he tried his best to maintain a certain amount of dignity and that was rather hard when you were being crushed by an angel.
“I’m just saying be careful, that’s all.”
“When am I not?”
Gabriel just raised his eyebrows and Crowley got the distinct impression he was trying not to tap his foot.
“Alright, I will. I’ll be home in time for dinner and a drink. You’ll see.”
“I can’t,” Crowley said despite the nagging desire to try to bluff his way out of this. You could only bluff so much, though, before it caught up with you. He had a feeling that everything was catching up with him right now. It only took a wave from the over-grown pigeon and the duffel containing his bones was blazing. It happened so fast that there was no time for a reaction. Through the pain and smoke and fear all Crowley could think was that Gabriel would be waiting for him…
The hound whined and pressed a cold, wet nose into Gabriel’s palm. He had stopped pacing back and forth a few hours ago, when the first light of the sun crept over the horizon. Now he stood, staring out the window, just waiting. It didn’t matter that Crowley rarely used the door. He needed to be doing something. Gabriel patted the hound absently, wishing he could whine along with it.
“He’ll be back, just wait. You’ll see,” Gabriel murmured into the darkness.
He could almost hear Crowley’s voice echoing the words.
The days seemed to blur together after awhile. He gave up trying to count them. Even if Gabriel hadn’t gone over to the prison he would have known what happened. Crowley was a demon of his word; nothing short of death would have kept him away. At one point that had been a comforting thought. Not anymore.
He split his time between sleeping and trying not to stare out the window. At first he slept in the bed, hugging Crowley’s pillow to him, but soon the familiar scent began to fade. It made the king-sized bed feel as cold and expansive as the universe. Sometimes the hound curled up next to him and Gabriel would grumble out of habit but he never shoed him off. Sometimes when everything was too big, too empty he slept on the couch and fell asleep staring towards the door.
Every night he whispered the same thing to hound and the empty house like a mantra.
“He’s not gone…You’ll see…”
Angels don’t dream, even if they can sleep but that didn’t stop Gabriel’s mind from filling in the lonely days. He hadn’t cleaned in weeks. He had never been one for domestication but he had tried to keep things as neat as possible for Crowley, just so his meat-suit didn’t have an aneurysm. (The turning point had been when Gabriel attempted to bake a full-sized shark cake from scratch.) Looking around the house sometimes, he could almost hear Crowley grumble.
“It’s like living with a pig that can talk.”
“Do you have any idea how much that cost?”
So Gabriel tried to clean but it wasn’t the same without the complaining and occasional ‘breaks’ that they took which generally led to the dishes being forgotten. He took showers when he remembered because he knew Crowley would have complained about his poor hygiene. Gabriel went to all the places they had gone together over the years. Every time he stepped onto some familiar beach or path, it was like the weight of the world was crushing him until he looked around and Crowley wasn’t there. It wasn’t that he thought Crowley would be standing there, waiting to chide him, without really meaning it, for being late but…
He did. And each time he re-visited those memories, he left them with the same thing.
There were times, a month or so later, Gabriel would find himself thinking about moving on. They were never serious thoughts because he didn’t know how he could leave the place where they had shared so many memories. Those memories were all he had to cling to. It was as if he was holding on to nothing but nothing was all he had. They were slipping slowly away and he was slipping away with them.
“I know. You’ll see.”
Gabriel woke up that morning to what smelled like waffles cooking. The warm spot where the hound had been sleeping was slowly cooling. He thought he could hear noises coming from the kitchen but there had been many mornings he had woken up to these kinds of delusions. Hope would flutter in his chest for a brief moment and then he would remember. He couldn’t deal with it, so he pulled the pillow over his head and willed his mind to stop playing tricks on him.
“I suppose you’re going to expect me to serve you breakfast in bed all the time, now?”
Everything slowed down. Gabriel felt like he was moving upstream in an icy river. Crowley stood there in his suit, holding a tray laden with food, and looking worn down. Gabriel closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths.
“If you’re not going to eat, the least you could do is take a shower.”
“Crowley…Is this real?” He could hear the demon set down the tray on the night stand.
“Yes. What happened was…” Gabriel opened his eyes.
“I don’t care. You’re here. I don’t care about anything else,” he said moving to finally be able to touch Crowley. His hands moved everywhere as if he was desperate to touch every part of Crowley to make sure he was truly there. They fell onto the bed, tangled and kissing each other where ever they could find.
“I was late but I’m here now. I told you, you’d see.”
If they didn’t leave the bedroom for awhile, that was fine because they finally had something to hold onto. They had new memories to make and empty spaces to fill.