It took Aziraphale approximately five thousand nine hundred and forty-five years—give or take a few months—to fall in love. Or, at least, to realize he was he in love. Looking back now he wonders if perhaps he’d been feeling this way for much longer and just hadn’t realized it. After all, falling in love with a demon, of all sorts, was ridiculous, laughable even. And for that demon to be Crowley, well that was even more unfathomable.
And then there was the matter of reciprocation. He didn’t even know if demons could fall in love, much less would want to. Crowley was always telling him how troublesome a burden he thought it must be for humans to always be living their lives so heavily dictated by their emotions. Of course, he knew Crowley felt things, had seen him laugh and sneer and fawn over that accursed car of his in ways that was anything but apathetic.
But love was a world in and of itself. Love was layered and annoyingly complicated, it demanded to be acknowledged no matter how much Aziraphale tried to ignore it, made his body do things that were entirely inappropriate, not to mention inconvenient, for someone of his position. The way his palms sweat and his heart thudded uncontrollably fast at the mere mention of Crowley was nothing short of infuriating. Crowley was insufferable, sarcastic and cutting and sauntering everywhere he went, he mocked Aziraphale’s clothes and his books and teased him mercilessly about how unlike an angel his love of fine wine and fine food was. Yet, here he was, almost eighty years and one thwarted apocalypse later and still as painfully—pathetically—pining for the man who had somehow become his best friend.
Crowley had asked him to abandon Earth with him, had invited him to go off into the very stars the demon had so long ago helped to create. Aziraphale had been so tempted to say yes and let himself get swept up in the plans. After all, it’s not like he would have been much help in a war he didn’t want to fight anyway. But, as much as the romantic in him embraced the idea of spending eternity exploring the cosmos alone with Crowley, there were so many other things he didn’t want to give up, many of which also involved Crowley. There’d be no more lunch dates or conversations on park benches or, no, not even rides in that confounded car of his. And the thought of losing those moments along with everything else he enjoyed on Earth cemented his need to stop what was happening. Which they’d done. Or, helped do at least.
And now they’re free to do as they pleased for the foreseeable future, lunch at the Ritz being the first of what Aziraphale hopes to be many such dates. He’s knows they’re not that, but there’s a small piece of him that likes to pretend they are, as woefully depressing as that is. There’s no harm in imagining that he might be perfectly at ease reaching across his plate and taking Crowley’s hand in his own or letting their feet bump together playfully under the table. He wonders absently, when they’ve left the restaurant and are walking aimlessly through the park, how Crowley would react to him doing either of these things. Probably laugh or give him that look he gives him like he’s trying to decipher him, brow furrowed and eyes squinted behind his dark sunglasses, lip curled up at the corner.
He keeps his hands folded primly in front of him as they walk, trying not to let his eyes wander too much to the man beside him. Crowley always seems to walk aimlessly, like he’s in no particular hurry to get where he’s going or as if he’s got no destination in mind to begin with, a lazy sort of prowl, fingers tucked in his pockets and whole body moving with it like a stalking cat. No. Like a snake. Crowley slithers when he walks and Aziraphale can see how he would do well at certain aspects of his station, just the way he moves is alluring, aggravatingly so. He wonders if Crowley has ever tempted someone like that before. The very thought makes something unfamiliar and unpleasant, something jealous, flare up inside him.
“What’s wrong with you?” Crowley says, even his pattern of speech that same lazy, meandering cadence.
“Hm?” Aziraphale responds, straightening his spine a few more degrees and looking over at him. “Nothing’s wrong.”
“Why’s your face like that then?” Crowley says, tilting his chin up and gesturing vaguely at him.
“My face?” Aziraphale frowns and lightly touches his own cheek in bewilderment. “What’s wrong with it?”
“Well, ‘s’alright now,” Crowley says with a half shrug. “But it was all—“ he scrunches up his face in what Aziraphale assumes is intended to be a mirror of the expression in question, “—brooding.”
Aziraphale clicks his tongue and huffs out a disbelieving laugh. “Oh, really now,” he says, shaking his head. “I don’t brood.”
“You were!” Crowley insists. “Just now! Looked very serious, too.”
Aziraphale scoffs quietly, hoping the heat he feels on his cheeks isn’t coloring them too much.
“So what were you thinking about?”
Aziraphale lets out an exasperated sigh.
“I wasn’t thinking about anything,” he says curtly. “And I was not brooding.”
Crowley makes a doubtful noise in his throat. They walk in silence for a few moments before he pipes up again.
“Are you still thinking about...” he points discreetly upward, eyebrows raised in question.
He’s wearing his sunglasses as always and Aziraphale can’t help but be annoyed by them. One, because he can’t truly discern his expression with half his face hidden and, two, because he’s always found Crowley’s eyes so interesting to look at. They were so very different from his own eyes. And not empty and cold like the eyes of most demons, but both sharp and soft in equal measure. Which, he thinks, is something that is probably uniquely Crowley, as so many things are.
“No!” Aziraphale says, starting to feel faintly panicked at how much he’s pressing the matter. He racks his brain quickly for a change of subject, grasping the first one that pops into his head.
“You know, I could go for a drink after lunch,” he says, praying he doesn’t sound as flustered as he feels. “I’ve got a few bottles of a lovely Cheval Blanc, if I can—“
“Tempt me?” Crowley interjects, looking far too pleased with himself as he says.
“Yes, well...” he trails off, sniffing haughtily. “Is that a yes?”
“Angel, you don’t need to convince me to drink your fancy booze,” Crowley says, smirking.
Something flutters happily in his chest at the word angel. He knows it’s not meant to be anything special, but ever since he’d started hearing humans use the term for their significant others, he hasn’t been able to stop himself from imagining what it might be like to hear it from Crowley with the same connotation. It’s silly of him, he knows, but he really can’t help himself.
He thinks now, after he’s three glasses of wine into the afternoon, it really was stupid of him to pick this as a way to distract Crowley. It had been bad enough sharing a meal and champagne together. Being alone, holed up in the close quarters of the book shop with the sign turned to CLOSED while they make their way through several bottles of very expensive, very old wine, is much, much worse. Because it’s not like the last time they did this, when they were both so caught up in fretting over the apocalypse that Aziraphale couldn’t spare a thought for anything else.
No, now they had all the time in the world to sit and drink and ramble on about anything that might cross their minds. And, right now, there was really only one thought broadcasting itself very loudly in Aziraphale’s head, and that was that he was hopelessly infatuated with the man currently rattling off all the things he wanted to do now that the world wasn’t on the verge of destruction.
“And I haven’t been to Japan in ages,” he says from his position sprawled on the couch, his wine sloshing about in his glass as he waves it through the air. He sits up and points a finger at Aziraphale, swaying on the spot. “Did you know they’ve got toilets there that talk to you?”
He flops back onto the couch again with an amused look, shaking his head.
Aziraphale hums in response, chin propped on his hand where he’s sitting at the table watching him longingly, smiling dazedly as he talks. He feels fuzzy and loose-limbed, like all the tension that’s usually wound tight in his muscles has been let slack, leaving him slumped in his seat, fingers tracing lightly along the rim of his wine glass.
“What about you?” Crowley says, looking to him curiously behind his glasses. “Suppose you’ll be wanting to go somewhere posh, eh? You always liked France.”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Aziraphale sighs, tipping his glass absently to balance it on the curve of the base, letting it rotate slowly. “Haven’t really thought about it.”
“Well, think about it,” Crowley says, settling back against the arm of the couch and resting one hand on his stomach, the other still cupping the nearly empty goblet. “I think we deserve a nice long vacation after that mess.”
“We?” Aziraphale says, frowning, his glass setting down flat on the table with a soft click. “What do you mean?”
“What do you mean what do I mean?” Crowley replies, mirroring his confusion. “I mean what I said.”
“Well, yes, but—“ he clears his throat, dithering for a moment as he tries to compile is thoughts so thoroughly strewn about by the wine. “—together?”
“Yeah?” Crowley says like it’s obvious.
“O-oh,” Aziraphale breathes. “Well, I hadn’t—I suppose it hadn’t really occurred to me. Going... together.”
“Who else am I gonna go with?” Crowley asks, scoffing as he drains his glass and holds it out towards Aziraphale, shaking the empty glass expectantly.
“Well,” Aziraphale begins carefully as he stands, wobbling a little, and moves to refill the glass, “we’ve not really traveled together before. More tend to... bump into each other, I suppose.”
“I mean, if you don’t want to, we don’t—“
“No, now, I didn’t say that,” Aziraphale says sternly, pursing his lips as he tips the bottle and dark wine splashes into the glass.
“So, you will go?” Crowley says, quirking one eyebrow. Aziraphale wishes he would take those stupid glasses off.
“W-well, now, I would need to think about it.” Aziraphale stops pouring when the glass is nearly full. The bottle is close to empty.
“What’s to think about?” Crowley says, sounding exasperated. “Do you want to go with me or not?”
Aziraphale opens his mouth mutely. He does, of course he does, but he’s not sure his heart could take spending day in and day out with Crowley at his side, perhaps sharing a double room at some quaint inn as they indulge in whatever good food and alcohol the locals have to offer as they so often do when they’re together. The idea makes something hopeful and pleased spread in his chest, encouraged on by the wine and warmth of the air around them, still and a little stuffy and smelling of old paper and of Crowley himself.
I know what you smell like.
“Well?” Crowley says expectantly.
“Yes,” Aziraphale says quietly, the word rushing out of him before he can stop it. “I mean—that is to say—I… I would enjoy that.”
“Was that so hard?” Crowley drawls, clinking his glass against the wine bottle before taking a hefty swig.
Aziraphale watches him fretfully, fingers twisting around the neck of the bottle. He feels suddenly emboldened by the wine and maybe the after effects of taking on Crowley’s appearance to fool Beelzebub and the other demons, as if some of his swagger had rubbed off on him just pretending to be him.
“Why?” he says, straightening up automatically when Crowley’s gaze turns to him curiously.
“Why do you want me to go with you?” Aziraphale says tersely.
“Well… because,” Crowley replies, shrugging and gesturing noncommittally.
“Because why, Crowley,” Aziraphale presses.
“Oh, don’t make me say it,” Crowley gripes, grimacing. He sighs when Aziraphale doesn’t back down, taking another gulp of wine before continuing, “Because I… enjoy your company.” He gestures broadly as he says it, scoffing quietly and pulling a face as if it’s caused him great pains to admit it out loud.
“Oh, come on,” Crowley says exasperatedly. “You think I’d hang around you for six thousand years if I didn’t like you? Unlike you, I don’t pretend I don’t.”
Aziraphale flinches at the jab but soldiers on.
“But, I’m sure there are plenty of others you like,” he says.
Crowley gives him a dubious look.
“Who?” he says with a snort. “Not any others down there, especially not now. What, am I going to hang out with a human? That Shadwell bloke?” He shudders.
It hits Aziraphale then that, while he has plenty of acquaintances, coworkers, Crowley really is his closest and definitely his oldest friend and that Crowley, apparently, feels the same about him. He wonders if maybe… but surely not. The wine nudges him forward.
Crowley sighs. “What?”
“Have you ever… have you ever been in love?”
Crowley stills with the glass half raised to his lips.
“Why the hell,” Crowley begins, tone clipped, “are you asking me that?”
“Just curious,” Aziraphale says carefully.
“Have you?” Crowley says, turning to look at him. Aziraphale wants to rip those ridiculous glasses off his face.
“What if I have?” Aziraphale says defensively, stepping back to put the bottle back on the table, an excuse to turn away from him when his face warms.
“What?!” Crowley cries, the couch creaking as he moves to a sitting position. Aziraphale can feel his eyes on his back as he fiddles with the corner of a book sitting on the table. “Who? How long?”
Aziraphale ignores the first question.
“Oh… eighty years or so, I believe,” he says. He feels oddly breathless as he says it, clutching his hands together to keep them from fidgeting.
He hears Crowley stand and he exhales shakily, closing his eyes and bracing himself for disgust, rejection, maybe a good laugh from Crowley. Crowley’s hand comes to rest on his shoulder and turns him around to face him. His brow is furrowed, head tilted to the side in a dissecting look. Understanding passes over his features and he takes a deep breath, shaking his head and laughing quietly as he steps to the side to set his goblet on the table. He takes off his glasses to toss them down as well and rubs his eyes tiredly.
“I know,” Aziraphale says, wishing the rejection he knew was coming didn’t hurt as much as it did. “I know, it’s ridiculous, I—”
“Oh, shut up, for once,” Crowley mutters, turning and striding towards him with a determined look. He grips Aziraphale’s lapels and forces him onto his tiptoes so their eyes are level, noses bumping together.
“You,” Crowley all but growls, “Why are you so smart but so stupid?”
Aziraphale opens his mouth wordlessly.
And then Crowley kisses him, tugs him forward and crushes their lips together, breathing out hard through his nose as he does. He pulls away entirely too soon and Aziraphale blinks dazedly.
“You stupid, stupid—”
He kisses Aziraphale again, lets him drop back on his feet and moves his hands to settle on his face instead, tilting it up so they can keep kissing, firm and closed-mouth. Crowley pulls back after a few seconds, eyes flicking over Aziraphale’s face.
“Oh,” Aziraphale breathes, feeling flustered and off-balance. “Well… I wasn’t expecting that.”
Crowley’s expression turns suddenly irritated and he pokes Aziraphale hard in the collarbone.
“Eighty years?!” he snaps. “Eighty years and you didn’t think to say anything?”
“What was I supposed to say?” Aziraphale retorts, rubbing the spot and scowling.
“Anything?” Crowley says, throwing his arms up.
“So are you—are you saying you’re in love with me?” Aziraphale says, feeling the need to clarify.
“Am I—do you not—” Crowley stops, closing his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose. “Are you telling me,” he says, voice almost dangerously calm, “that you didn’t know?”
“What do you mean, didn’t know?” Aziraphale says, growing increasingly confused each passing second. “How long have you been in love with me?”
“When did we meet?” Crowley says simply.
“Oh, come now,” Aziraphale says, making a disbelieving sound. His amused grin falls when Crowley merely stares at him. “Oh… you’re serious.”
“Six thousand years, Aziraphale,” his voice is soft, affected in a way that he’s never heard it before.
“Six thousand years,” he repeats, expression almost pained. “I asked you to leave with me. You really didn’t…?”
“I’m sorry,” Aziraphale says, shaking his head. He continues, faintly irritated, “You never said anything, how was I supposed to know?”
Crowley sighs, hesitating briefly before taking both of Aziraphale’s hands in his own. His fingers are surprisingly warm on his skin.
“I showed it though, didn’t I?” Crowley says, more to himself than to Aziraphale, eyes fixed on their hands. “I thought you just...“ He shakes his head and looks up at Aziraphale, expression determined again. “I’m going to kiss you again,” he says. “And you’re going to kiss me back this time, yeah?”
Aziraphale nods mutely, heart leaping in anticipation.
Crowley kisses him, gentler this time, releasing his hands so he can grip him by the hips and pull him closer. His lips part, slotting Aziraphale’s lower lip between his own, moving tentatively, careful at first. Then he makes a short, impatient sound and kisses him harder, more hungrily than before and, oh, yes, that’s nice. His head tilts to one side and he presses their mouths more firmly together, stopping just long enough to breathe out sharp and hot against Aziraphale’s lips before continuing.
Aziraphale keeps his word and kisses him back, feels almost dizzy with it. He fists his hands in the front of Crowley’s shirt to keep his footing, let’s Crowley shift even closer to him, so close he has to tip his head back slightly to keep kissing him. He’s suddenly finding a newfound appreciation for those few inches of height Crowley has on him that he’d always found aggravating in a detached sort of way.
Crowley breaks away to draw a heavy breath, staying close and resting his forehead against Aziraphale’s.
“Angel,” he murmurs, closing his eyes. There’s a fondness to the way he says it this time that makes Aziraphale smile almost automatically. He feels giddy, buoyant, a little silly at how incredibly lightheaded he is over a simple kiss.
“You like it when I call you that?” Crowley says, smirking at the look on his face.
“O-oh, well, I mean, I don’t really—“
“Shut up, angel,” Crowley’s grinning when he says it, wide and affectionate.
Aziraphale presses his lips together, unable to stop himself from smiling, too.
“What now?” he says, absently smoothing down the front of Crowley’s shirt. He means it more in the abstract sense than anything, though he admits he is eager to know what Crowley wants in the immediate sense as well.
“Well,” Crowley begins, sliding one hand from Aziraphale’s hip to skate up his spine, a pleasant shiver following the touch, “I’m going to take you to that couch and kiss you a hell of a lot more. And if I’m feeling particularly wicked, I might try and lure you into something even more sinful.” He grins and teases his fingertips along Aziraphale’s belt.
“Your fiendish wiles can be very persuasive,” Aziraphale replies, matching his grin. He frowns in consideration. “Would seducing an angel be a good or bad accomplishment for you?”
“Fuck if I know or care,” Crowley says, hooking his fingers in Aziraphale’s belt loops to pull him towards the couch and make good on his promise.