“I’m going to die,” Crowley whines. It’s early in the morning, cold inside and out, and he sits on the arm of the sofa in Aziraphale’s back room, curling his body around the nucleus of a mug of tea.
He isn’t whining about the cold; it’s a secondary worry at the moment. He’s whining because Aziraphale is about to leave the city for three whole days, and he’s woken up early just to spend a bit of time with him before he goes, and he has no desire whatsoever to be apart for so long. They’ve only just discovered how wonderful it is to be together, really and truly together, and Crowley doesn’t fancy being any distance away from the plush lips he’s getting used to kissing.
Aziraphale tuts at him half-heartedly, shaking his head, turning the page of his book. He is fully in the moment with Crowley, undoubtedly, but an Aziraphale without a book in his hand is half an Aziraphale. “You won’t,” he says, his tone solid and firm and sure. “You could discorporate, possibly,” he adds lightly.
Crowley’s eyebrows shoot up in a comical display. “That’s reassuring,” he snarks, “but I mean it, angel. I’m going to die, for real, and I'll relish it because it'll be better than being here without you.”
“You can’t,” Aziraphale replies, looking up at him, caught halfway between comforting and concerned. “Not unless – but that won’t happen. You can’t die.”
“We can’t die.”
“I know,” Crowley repeats, a bit snappish. “But wouldn’t it be nice, sometimes?”
A long beat of painful silence, one that seems to go on for years, and then Aziraphale has closed his book, is looking up at Crowley, his eyes darkening. “Don’t say that.” His tone is as hard as his face, pleading and furious and heartbroken all together. “Don’t you ever say that.”
“I don’t mean – I don’t mean like that.”
“There’s no other way to mean it, Crowley. I can’t believe you would even think –”
“No, really, I just mean… I don’t want to die, Aziraphale, I promise.” Crowley chews at the inside of his cheek while he considers how he could possibly explain his stupid, thoughtless comment. “I just – sometimes I wish I had something like that to look forward to.” He winces at the words leaving his mouth, immediately realizing he’s made it much worse.
“To look forward to,” Aziraphale murmurs, his voice flat and cold and empty like an echo in a lonely cave. “Something to look forward to.”
“I don’t want to die!” Crowley repeats desperately. “I’m just saying – we can either go on forever, or we can – unbecome. We can cease to exist. There’s no in between for us, and sometimes I just wish there was. Sometimes I think I would like to have the option to one day go gentle into that good night.”
Aziraphale grits his teeth, closes his eyes and counts to ten before he can bring himself to speak, before he can put on a mask of calm to thinly conceal the mountain of hurt within him. “If I recall correctly,” he says in a slow and measured tone, “there was a fairly clear injunction not to go gentle into that good night.”
Crowley covers his face with his hands. He can’t bear to look the angel in the eyes, not now, not when he’s fucked up so massively and wounded him so deeply. He blesses himself under his breath, his stupidity and his thoughtlessness, but he can’t go back now, can’t undo what’s been done, so he presses on in the hope that he can make Aziraphale understand. “Yes, well. I don’t want to rage, rage forever. I’m sick of it.”
“Then Heaven help me, I’ll do it for you,” the angel moans wretchedly.
Parting his fingers to chance a tentative look at him, Crowley almost collapses in on himself in the style of a dying star, because Aziraphale’s eyes are brimming with tears, so close to overflowing. It’s horrible. It’s awful. It may be the worst thing that Crowley has ever experienced in his entire long, long, oh so very long life.
Perhaps too long, he thinks, and then he wants to kick himself, because that’s the kind of thought that makes angels cry. Makes his angel cry. He can’t do anything to make it better.
“I will carry enough rage for both of us,” Aziraphale continues, fierce and fervent even as his voice wavers, his lip quivers. “I will, forever, no matter what. If there ever comes a time when you're so worn by the world that you think it isn't worth fighting anymore, then I’ll fight for you. Do you understand that? I’ll fight for you. Always."
Crowley's eyes are wet now, as well, and he hates himself for it. It really is impossible to explain the winding trail of thought that led him to the conclusion that mortality would be a desirable thing; it’s been six thousand years on Earth and so many years before that in Hell and so, so many years before that in Heaven, all working together and piling on top of each other only to leave him with the distinct impression that humans have the better end of the whole deal. It’s not anything deeper than that, and it certainly doesn’t mean he wants to die, not now, not when he’s only just begun living.
“I know, angel,” he whispers, and his voice is hoarse, isn’t that embarrassing. He clears his throat softly. “Listen, it’s – it’s something I’ve had on my mind a lot, for a long time, and I had come to certain conclusions – knowing I couldn’t do anything about it, of course, but I was pretty firm in the belief that that was something – an abstract something that I could just – could want, you know?”
Crowley pauses, takes a deep breath, lowers his voice even further. “Because it was easier to want something like that, something so… fantastical. Impossible. Easier to want that than to think about how much I wanted what was right in front of me, just out of reach.”
Aziraphale furrows his brow deeply and bites his lip. “If you’re saying what I think you’re saying, my dear…”
Crowley shakes his head before the angel can finish. “No, I don’t think I am. What I’m saying is that for a long time, I thought I wanted what they have – a short life with a finish line, and on the other side of it eternity in one place or the other. Preferably eternal paradise, you know how it is for them up there.”
His eyes burn bright into the core of Aziraphale, meeting the angel’s questioning gaze with an utterly sure expression of his own. “I didn’t realize until now,” he says softly, gently, “how much I don’t want that anymore. I didn’t realize it until I saw how much it hurt you to hear me say it.”
“What do you mean?” Aziraphale is apprehensive, afraid, as he studies the demon’s face for answers.
“Forever always seemed entirely too long,” Crowley explains patiently, “because I was imagining a forever of almost having you. But now I’ve got you, and forever doesn’t seem long enough. You’re my eternal paradise, angel.”
Then Aziraphale is standing in front of Crowley, catching and steadying him when he startles himself off balance, miracling the hot tea to the table and using his hold on the demon’s shoulders to reel him into a kiss. “I’ve got you,” he murmurs against Crowley’s lips, his soft voice full of fire and passion. He says it over and over again, between quick kisses, repeating Crowley’s words back to him in a prayer, a song: “I’ve got you, I’ve got you.”
When they pull back, Crowley keeps his eyes closed, leans his forehead against his angel’s, catches his breath. “I’ll be alright,” he says quietly, defeated but almost content with it. “With you gone, I mean. I was just being dramatic, really, didn’t mean for it to get so serious.”
Aziraphale’s hands migrate to the demon’s cheeks, stroking his cheekbones with gentle thumbs as plump palms rest against Crowley’s cold skin. “I’m not going anywhere, dearest,” the angel promises.
“I mean it, I’ll be fine,” Crowley protests.
“Well, what if I’m not?” Aziraphale smiles, cocking his head to the side. “What if I can’t stand to be away from you for even one minute?”
“Don’t be silly, angel,” Crowley says with a shake of his head. “You need to go get your – your expensive book, or something, from Germany, don’t you?”
Aziraphale dives in to kiss him again, pressing their lips together in a tender and honest gesture, and pulls away just barely enough to speak. “I don’t need any books,” he murmurs warmly, causing something heavy and hot to bloom in Crowley’s chest. “Not when I’ve got you.”