How to Hide Your Feelings (for 6,000 years) @raichel
Method 1: Burying Feelings and Resignation

It all started, of course, in Eden. Standing on the wall, making conversation. Four words:

“I gave it away.”

And the angel had caught his interest. A good angel, a kind angel, an angel who would ask for forgiveness, not permission. Why hadn’t he thought of that? An angel who protected a demon from the first rain. An angel he could be friends with. 

And the angel had caught his interest. A good angel, a kind angel, an angel who would ask for forgiveness, not permission. Why hadn’t he thought of that? An angel who protected a demon from the first rain. An angel he could be friends with. 

He wasn’t sure, for a while, that he’d actually made a friend. But then there was the flood, and they were pushed together again. They spent more time together then, trying in turn to uphold the great plan and undermine it. More often than not this looked like saving as many as possible, just under drastically different reasonings. It still wasn’t nearly enough. But Crowley learned something very important: Aziraphale was much like him. Not too similar by any means, they were still diametrically opposed in many ways, but they could work together, and the angel was assigned to earth the same way he was. Aziraphale was, for many intents and purposes, his other half. They fit quite well together. 

Of course, it’s only natural to gain a fondness for your one peer on the planet, especially when he’s already an interesting person. Whatever the reasoning (and he had many justifications for himself and for hell), he was definitely friends with Aziraphale. They kept crossing paths over the years, here and there, and the longer time went on the more obvious it became that the angel was far better company than any human could be.

It hit him like a ton of bricks in Rome. Plenty had already been written and said about love, and, someone help him, that might be what the angel’s smile made him feel. He didn’t realize it, exactly, while spending time with him, but time with Aziraphale left a warmth, a joy, with him that nothing else did. Not even a really good, far reaching work of evil. He caught himself lingering on the thought of the angel’s smile, and had to swallow down a lot of feelings. This felt suspiciously like what he’d heard about love. 

He kept a close eye on these feelings going forward. They were nearly undeniable (and not for lack of trying). Days spent with Aziraphale were easily the best of a decade, even a century. He still danced around what, exactly, to call these feelings but he certainly cared for Aziraphale. It made the arrangement very easy. But, of course, the angel would never love him. Not really. He had no right to be cared for in return by an angel of all people. Obviously, he just had to bury the feelings deep and hope for the best. 

For the most part, that was enough. Crowley could live fairly comfortably following at Aziraphale’s heels, riding through levels of denial. Some days, it was a business acquaintanceship. Most days it was convenient companionship, or devoted friendship. But on the very worst days it became pure, unadulterated, unrequited pining. 

Fortunately he didn’t end up wallowing in his own futile infatuation with the angel very often, but when he did he often drank copious amounts of alcohol about it. The first time it hit was about a week after they met in Rome, when the realization first truly set in. After that it only hit him particularly badly every two or three centuries. 

For example, the last time he set to pining in earnest before the birth of the antichrist was in the early 19th century. Between temptations (with a miracle performed here and there, as per the arrangement of course) he settled in a tavern somewhere out in the West Yorkshire area, and set to stewing. Sometimes he was lucky, and got to suffer alone, in silence, but other times he got company. Perhaps he looked pitiful enough to be interesting. Or the place was packed. That day, he had company. A woman sat down beside him at the bar. Already a bit unusual in this time and place, her attire was pushing the envelope of gender norms. He had more than a little respect for that, and he had more than a little alcohol in him by that point. Maybe that’s why he humored her when she started talking.

“You’re causing some concern, sir,” she told him, though the quirk of her eyebrow and the hint of a smirk suggested she wasn’t too concerned herself. “No one has seen you before, and you’ve been here several hours.”

“People don’t pass through this town?” he retorted, “Don’t worry about it, I’ll be gone by morning.”

“What brings you through town?” she pressed him.

“Sewing evil.” some days he really couldn’t be bothered to make something up.

She nodded, the smirk gaining more traction, and took a sip of her drink.

“I’ve certainly been accused of such myself,” she told him. 

“How’d you manage that?” he asked, trying to get a proper read on her. So far as evil went, he wouldn’t be surprised if it was gambling, fighting, drinking—

“Seducing women.”

He wasn’t expecting that. After a few drinks he always forgot how much people could hate non-conformity.

“Oh. Well, that’s not so bad. Is there a trick to it?” he added.

“Beg your pardon? Men do it every day.”

“Well, sure, but how do you get past all the…” he gestured vaguely.

“Past the…?” she mimicked his gesture, face painted with a mix of exasperation and bemusement. 

“The- the baggage,” he found a suitable word, “all the social whatzits. Surely there’s some complications?”

“It’s not so difficult as you seem to think,” she retorted, and oh, she was getting colder. He’d insulted her, which wasn’t uncommon, but this might be a misunderstanding.

“See, it’s just that I’ve been trying to seduce— no, that’s way too strong a word, but there’s this man, and I can’t possibly imagine he’d be interested in me. Even if he might, I definitely can’t imagine actually telling him—!” Crowley spluttered at his own nerve, suggesting he might ever do such a thing. The woman’s eyebrows had raised. 

“Well, I don’t know much about the romantic affairs of men,” she admitted, “unless from their wives.” she threw back some more of her drink.

“Has it worked for you?” he asked after a passing moment of silence between them, “How do they usually respond, if you tell them, you know, how you feel?” He'd drained his drink by now, and wasn’t feeling too bad. He hadn’t had a frank conversation like this in several centuries, between long naps and societal prejudice. Never with a woman.

“They take it well enough,” she muttered, “I’ve gotten very good at reading how interested they might be. The hard part isn’t getting close, it’s keeping them.” her eyes had glazed over now, and, though it wasn’t very demonic of him, he felt a knot in his gut. He had always been a bit softer for the nonconformists, and, hell, even the idea of losing Aziraphale…

“I’m sorry,” he told her. She swallowed more liquor down.

“I suppose it's to be expected at this point. I’m never more than an affair. A woman without a husband isn’t worth much. I might have fallen to the allure of stability myself, were men not so repulsive.” He was nowhere near attached enough to his gender to take such a comment personally. “But then again, maybe not,” she added. 

“Perhaps you’ll get lucky one of these days,” he told her, “find one who doesn’t need a husband.”

She scoffed, but seemed to accept the well-wishes.

“And perhaps your man will be more accommodating than you expect,” she returned, and they tapped their glasses together. But his was long empty, and he had probably had enough drinks at any rate. At least the ache of unrequited pining had dulled.

“I should go,” he said, getting to his feet. “It’s been a pleasure to meet you—” he  cut short, and she was kind enough to fill the space,

“Anne,” she introduced herself, shaking his hand.

“Crowley,” he replied, before turning on his heel and sauntering out of the tavern. He left behind a demonic miracle, that was absolutely to assist her in her reportedly sinful ways and not in any way influenced by his sympathy for her. She would get lucky, find a love to stay with her, and they would be a horrible influence together. Or something. And they would struggle, which he would absolutely take credit for if hell asked (but they wouldn’t, and really there were just some things that were unavoidable).

When he wasn’t pining, then, he was simply devoted. In Paris, at the globe, in the blitz, and so many places in between he served Aziraphale with the devotion he’d once afforded God. He would never say it aloud, of course. He barely admitted it to himself. But privately, in those moments where Aziraphale was in danger or gave him one of those looks, he knew he would do anything for the angel. He’d long since learned to balance those acts of - eugh! - good, with demonic acts. At the slightest provocation he would do anything for him. Anything at all. But he would still never dare tell his secret.

He’d tested those limits once, with the holy water, and been horribly burned. He’d mis-judged the angel; Aziraphale would not do for him what he might do for the angel. Crowley would never say this surprised him, that wouldn’t be quite right. But it cut off hope of progress. He would linger forever at Aziraphale’s side. Watching. Protecting. Loving. But never admitting anything. Even when Aziraphale appeared in the passenger seat of the Bentley, thermos in hand, Crowley had no hope. He went too fast, after all.

The status quo had done well enough since Eden, it could serve him till the end times.

But then things got a little more complicated when Hastur handed him a basket in the dead of night. The end times are far more pressing in practice than in theory. 

Everything got more complicated, obviously, with earth’s days being numbered, but when Crowley’s heart dropped, sickening like a free-fall carnival ride, as the weight of the basket fell into his hand in that graveyard, there were a handful of things he was acutely aware he would miss when the eleven years were up. In no particular order, these things were alcohol; his car; the poor, unsuspecting, unpredictable humans; and Aziraphale. A thought occurred to him quickly enough to be embarrassing: if the angel was ever going to know how he felt, there were only eleven years to tell him. 

He was wondering, as he sped through the dark, foggy woods, trying to call the angel up, if he might tell Aziraphale right now. Everything was going to shit, anyway, what could it hurt? But the call didn’t go through, and he barely missed wrecking his precious car. By the time he did reach Aziraphale over the phone he’d lost his nerve entirely. There was only one option: stop the apocalypse. The alternative was too much to bear for reasons too numerous to list.

He stood on the precipice the next night, sitting in Aziraphale’s flat, warm, and cozy, and full of wine. It was so good just to be there, together, after the horrible isolation and existential terror of having to hand off the initiator of the apocalypse that he didn't want to happen. Here it was less scary. Very nearly less real. He could pull Aziraphale around to see things his way: remind him of the best of earth, the worst of heaven. The horrors of eterni-tay. (He could hide it under the booze, ignore it in the safety of the cluttered shop, but eternity scared him most. Dingy, crowded, lonely eternity.)

He was too busy trying to talk Aziraphale into averting armageddon to seriously consider telling him the truth. And yet, his affection for the angel burned bright as ever. He realized belatedly that he was grinning like an idiot at Aziraphale’s simple “I’ll be damned!” How could he not? Even the end of the world was better with him. He could really believe, in that moment, that they could stop this. It would be ok.

Crowley got to see so much more of Aziraphale over those eleven years, watching Warlock (even if that turned out to be a mistake in the end). He could still keep his feelings comfortably buried, but it was different. At least a little. Compared to millennia of only seeing each other every few years, this was near constant interaction. At his lowest, he was grateful he got to spend so many of the world’s last days with Aziraphale. At his highest, he was absolutely certain that the one good angel in all God’s creation could absolutely avert the apocalypse. No matter what, he loved Aziraphale (even if he’d hesitate to call it that). But even full of so much adoration, and in such close contact, he was able to keep the really bad pining down. Mostly. He knew better than to show his hand to Aziraphale. (A demon knows better than to show their hand to anyone, for that matter.) He could keep it all under the surface. He always had. This was simply a means to an end: stopping armageddon. They’d keep the boy from coming into his powers, and go back to the old status quo, no problem. This extended time together wouldn’t last, and that would be fine. Probably. They’d get through this, and everything would go back to normal. 

He’d keep his secrets forever at this rate.

But then they averted the apocalypse. Not to mention they nearly didn’t avert the apocalypse. And all of a sudden, sitting side by side at the Ritz, it was harder than ever to keep those ancient secrets. Crowley could swear he adored the angel more than ever. Here they were, together, safer than they’d ever been, still coming down from the highs of saving the world (not to mention each other’s lives; thanks for the tip, Agnes), and this was easily in Crowley's top five greatest moments of all time. In fact, it was likely number one. (And that was saying something when you’ve made stars and seen the garden of Eden.)

When he returned to his flat, and Aziraphale to his bookshop, Crowley was left nearly incapacitated by his own feelings. They weren’t sharp with regret, like when he drank them away, but they weren’t the least bit deniable either. Overwhelmed by love, affection, pride, and the burning desire to stay as close to the angel for as long as possible, what’s a demon to do?

Lord only knew what might happen if he was honest with the angel. The best and worst case scenarios dashed through his mind, but he didn't dare linger on either. He’d lost Aziraphale for a moment there, and it was the greatest pain he’d ever felt (though it was neck and neck with falling). He couldn’t do that again. Crowley couldn’t stand to lose the angel forever without ever saying anything. He couldn’t stand to lose the angel forever because he said something, either. 

He could keep it all down, still, to manageable levels. He wasn’t quite so desperate to risk that honesty. Not yet. Not now. But all the same he’d gotten more honest with himself, and that was a dangerous thing. He loved Aziraphale, but he could keep that secret. He had for millennia, he could keep it up for a few more. Maybe. (He had a nagging suspicion he was more likely to slip up one day, under the light of a particularly bright smile, or a few too many glasses of wine.)

He did well enough, adjusting to his new emotional status quo. He saw the angel about as frequently as before the almost-pocalypse, and adored him all the while, but to tell him wouldn’t be worth the risk. This was too good, as it was.

It wasn’t until about three months after armageddon’t that Aziraphale sat across from him at lunch, distracted and fidgety. He couldn’t help but ask,

1. Method 1: Burying Feelings and Resignation 2834 0 0 2. Method 2: Pretend it Never Happened 2567 0 0 3. Method 3: PANIC 2118 0 0