It was the middle of November, several months after the hosts of Heaven and Hell had been forced to step back.
Crowley had parked them in front of Jasmine cottage, and after a wonderful lunch with Anathema and Newt (and some well-placed hints that they really ought to get married from both Aziraphale and Crowley- though Crowley’s hints were rather more tactless than Aziraphale, but none the less heartfelt), Aziraphale had convinced Crowley that they should walk to Adam’s house.
Crowley griped about it, but didn’t actually argue.
“-and honestly, if those men think that they can just go around trying to buy people’s shops, then they’ve got a rude awakening.” Aziraphale told him, Crowley only idly listening.
“You’re the man with the dog.” Crowley exclaimed suddenly, cutting Aziraphale off in the middle of a remark about ‘the men that keep telling me my shop is flammable’.
Mr. Tyler eyed them warily, “Yes. I’ve got a dog.”
“Ooh,” Aziraphale cooed, “Aren’t you nice?” He reached down to pat the dog.
Mr. Tyler looked even more wary now. “So are you two… new ar-”
“Hang on,” Crowley interrupted, “Did you say that those men tell you that your shop is flammable?”
“Er- well,” Aziraphale stood up awkwardly, “It isn’t like then, it’s just… every couple of months, men in sharp suits come in and ask to buy my shop. I politely tell them it isn’t for sale, but there they are snooping about, going on about how flammable books are.”
Crowley was seething. He’d seen enough of Aziraphale’s bookshop burning for infinite lifetimes.
Mr. Tyler gaped at them.
“Crowley, you really mustn’t worry, it isn’t like then. I can handle it.”
“That’s the mafia, angel!”
Mr. Tyler had quite a few points to unpack here.
Point 1- The mafia were involved with a frumpy looking shop owner, and this didn’t seem to surprise said shop owner.
Point 2- The angry one’s glasses had slipped down his nose a bit, showing just a peak of yellow from behind them. Contacts, probably.
Point 3- Angel.
“Yes, I know that.” Aziraphale said exasperatedly, “But honestly, I can handle it. I have for years.”
“I’m sorry.” Mr. Tyler cut in, “I don’t want any of your lot here, especially if you have connections with the mafia.”
Crowley looked confused as to who ‘his lot’ were supposed to be.
“We’re just here for our godson,” Aziraphale said coolly, “You have no need to worry.”
Crowley raised an eyebrow at Aziraphale, who seemed to have some idea what Mr. Tyler was getting at.
“Now, come along, darling.” The endearment was forceful. Aziraphale grabbed Crowley at the arm and led him away, continuing on towards the Young house.
Crowley looked at Aziraphale, expecting to see anger in his eyes.
All he saw were clouds of sadness.
“Aziraphale, I… I didn’t mean to make you upset.”
“Oh, no! Goodness, Crowley, I’m not upset with you! It was him, I just… What, didn’t you notice?”
Aziraphale sighed, a light blush having taken to his cheeks. “Well you know how the humans assume things, and they misconstrue things.” He glanced for a moment at Crowley, who still looked as baffled as ever.
“He thought we were together. That’s what he meant by ‘our lot’. You know, gay people.” Aziraphale said this lightly, but there was an edge to his voice that he rarely got.
“I thought we were genderless-”
“Yes, we know that, Crowley!” Aziraphale came to a full stop, and looked at him, face full of the sort of pain that comes from years of trauma.
“But they don’t. They see us and they think, ‘queers’, ‘fairies’, ‘faggots.” Aziraphale was shaking slightly. “I’ve spent so much effort trying to convince people that gay people aren’t something to be repulsed by, that that isn’t even what Leviticus means. But people can be cruel, Crowley, surely you know that by now. People don’t care if their excuses aren’t from a place of accuracy, all they care about is something to hide behind so that they can excuse their hatred when they get called out on it.
“I spent the better part of the nineteenth century in gay gentlemen’s clubs, I was a member of The Hundred Guineas Club, I live in Soho, Crowley! Don’t you think there’s a reason for all of that?”
Crowley just stared at him, mouth slightly agape, hidden eyes wide.
“They’re what I identify with. I know I’m a ‘genderless being’, but having been on Earth for so long, in a body everyone says is a man’s, I get used to the idea of being a man. The same thing can be said for my being gay.”
Crowley wanted to speak, but he had nothing he could say.
“I am an angel.” Aziraphale backtracked, “And therefore genderless, sexless, and without any sort of sexuality. But people have been looking at me for almost six-thousand years and thinking ‘gay’, and I’ve never had a problem with that. But then the homophobia started up, and people began to look at me and think- say- all sorts of slurs. I’ve been attacked- physically attacked- in my own home by people claiming to be doing the work of God, then to be nursed by a gay man who tells me of his boyfriend that he can’t tell anyone else about. Don’t you understand how heartbreaking it all is?
“In any case, after thousands of years of people telling me that I’m gay, I started to see myself in them. Especially when homophobia became prevalent,” Aziraphale looked as if he were close to tears.
“So, at this point, after all these years, I am gay. I didn’t used to care who thought what of me, but after everything that happened in the nineteenth century, from having my home broken into and getting beaten up, to caring deeply for Oscar Wilde, to falling in love with someone who presents himself as a man, I am gay, not regardless of homophobia, but in open defiance of it. And I am proud of it. And this pride is not a sin after the suffering we’ve gone through. Because, God have we earned it.” Aziraphale did have tears running down his face, but he stood just as proud as he sounded, just as defiant.
“I’m sorry.” Crowley rasped. “I shouldn’t have- I’m sorry.”
Aziraphale’s face fell. “I’m sorry. I should have held my tongue.”
“No, you have nothing to apologize for.”
With weak nod, Aziraphale spoke again, “Shall we head to Adam’s, then? I do believe we’re late.”
Crowley blessed as he glanced at his watch.
They set out walking again.
It wasn’t long before Aziraphale noticed Crowley’s fidgeting.
“Is there something wrong, dear?”
“You fell in love.” Crowley stated nervously.
Aziraphale flushed all sorts of red. He stuttered for a moment, “Well, yes. It’s not like I’ve got a secret boyfriend, if that’s what you’re thinking. He doesn’t feel the same, see.”
“Who?” There was a strange bite to Crowley’s voice.
There was a stutter to Aziraphale’s steps.
“Oh, Crowley.” Aziraphale sounded heartbroken. “You must know by now, it’s you."
Several emotions passed over Crowley’s face in a matter of seconds. Shock, confusion, fear, and then- finally- hope.
“I never knew.” Crowley whispered. They’d stopped dead in the middle of the street again, but both found that they couldn’t care less.
“Of course I love you.” Aziraphale told him, eyes downcast, jaw trembling, and Crowley could see that he was trying to hold back tears.
“Look at me.” Crowley pulled off his sunglasses, discarding them in the street, and placed his hands gently on either side of Aziraphale’s face.
“I love you too. How couldn’t I love you? You’re the kindest, bravest, most intelligent bastard I know. I’ve been in love with you for six thousand years, angel. I can’t begin to believe that you never picked up on it.”
“I’m… sorry.” His face didn’t look sorry. He looked amazed, hopeful, so in love, but he didn’t seem sorry.
“I forgive you.” Crowley smiled.
And as R. P. Tyler turned around to see whatever had happened to the pair, they were tightly embraced, kissing like there’d be no tomorrow.
Because after everything, tomorrow wasn't ever going to be a promise again.