How to Hide Your Feelings (for 6,000 years) @raichel
Method 2: Pretend it Never Happened

It all started, of course, in Eden. Standing on the wall, a snake slithering up to make conversation. Eight words:

“Well, that went down like a lead balloon.”

A strange turn of phrase, it had caught Aziraphale’s attention. Not to mention, it was spoken by a demon. Aziraphale hadn’t actually met a demon before, only heard about them in warnings and whispers. Fallen angels. But far from the warnings of murderous, vengeful, downright nasty demons, this was a casual demon, a friendly demon. A demon who started a conversation, not a fight. A demon he could easily extend God’s infinite kindness toward and protect from the first rain. For all he knew, demons might dissolve in water. A demon he might could be friends with.

A strange turn of phrase, it had caught Aziraphale’s attention. Not to mention, it was spoken by a demon. Aziraphale hadn’t actually met a demon before, only heard about them in warnings and whispers. Fallen angels. But far from the warnings of murderous, vengeful, downright nasty demons, this was a casual demon, a friendly demon. A demon who started a conversation, not a fight. A demon he could easily extend God’s infinite kindness toward and protect from the first rain. For all he knew, demons might dissolve in water. A demon he might could be friends with.

Azirpahale didn’t really think of Crawly as a friend, however, until they started running into each other regularly. The demon, soon Crowley, was clearly his counterpart. His foil. And certainly he was evil, wily, scheming, but he wasn’t terrible. Their paths crossed most often where their work converged, in the beginning. The flood, for example, or Golgotha. Aziraphale almost expected an earthbound demon to be sewing the ultimate sins, leaving evil, destruction, maybe fire and brimstone in his wake, but that never seemed to be the case. When their paths first started to cross it seemed Crowley carried a particular brand of demonic mercy: a plea to save the children, the gift of knowledge to a poor man doomed to die. The gift of knowledge to humanity. 

Crowley was demonic, of course, and as such was inherently evil and opposed to Aziraphale, surely, but even so, he wasn’t quite bad. Aziraphale hesitated to think too long on it, let alone say it, but Crowley was marginally more similar to Aziraphale than the angels up in heaven, simply through shared experience. (Certainly heaven wouldn’t take kindly to that idea.) Still, he’d come to think of Crowley a friend, in his most sentimental moments. At least a work acquaintance. 

By the time they met again in Rome, Aziraphale had grown to miss the demon. He didn’t realize it, wouldn’t have dared consider it, but seeing that shock of red hair and dark clothes across the room gave Aziraphale a small patch of familiarity he hadn’t had for years. He rarely did anything to warrant visits from any angels working upstairs. That first lunch together was one of the best Aziraphale had yet had. As much as he enjoyed food (and he really, really did) it got lonely after many years eating without company.

Even then, as it started to dawn on him that seeing the demon brightened his day, Aziraphale chalked it up to heavenly love. He loved all God’s creatures, and surely demons were included in that anyway. He and Crowley were, at most, friends. 

It was the first time their paths crossed after the black knight incident, in a tavern a bit off the beaten path. They shared a drink or two, a habit they were slowly getting into. Crowley got that self-satisfied smirk, weaving a tale. His small glasses slid down his nose a bit, and the lamplight hit those golden snake eyes. Aziraphale’s corporeal heart stuttered, hit with the idea of drawing close, the feeling of the demon’s lips against his… For the smallest fraction of a second, that sounded like a fabulous idea, before the panic set in and set in hard. That was absolutely ludicrous. Angels barely went around kissing anyone, let alone their natural enemies. Heaven would be appalled! Surely it was the drink, or he’d been too close to humans for too long. Aziraphale swallowed hard, hoped nothing had shown on his face, and threw back some more beer.

Thereafter he would be hit, every so often, with these waves of affection. Each time he would toss them away or stuff them down, of course. Aziraphale was absolutely not in love with a demon. That would be absurd. Most of the time that was very easy for him to believe. He and Crowley were friends, at best. Casual acquaintances. After all, demons likely couldn’t even feel love. Perhaps, he tried to convince himself as he eyed Crowley up and down in a cell in revolutionary France, this was simply some lustful influence demons had, and his own corporeal form was becoming more susceptible to it with time. That was it. 

He came up with many reasons for his occasional bursts of feeling that went beyond universal, angelic love. Those affectionate, or romantic, or rarely bordering on lustful thoughts and feelings were surely not his own, but born of some other circumstance. It was very simple. Humanity was getting to him, or he had happened across one too many romantic books lately, or the demon was trying to seduce him for his own gain, any number of things.

The warm feeling in his chest when Crowley handed over his books, saved from the demonic miracle bombing, was a bit harder to explain. It was different from holy love, but similar somehow. Aziraphale couldn’t shake it or push it down, even through the whole ride back to the bookshop. Even the next morning. This feeling of affection lingered, stubbornly, and instead of squashing it as per usual Aziraphale had to set it aside and try not to think about it. But, perhaps Crowley had some good in him (he had of course suspected this for millennia). Perhaps if Crowley was good, it wouldn’t be so bad to love him. Maybe. (Heaven would still be furious.)

This nagging feeling of affection that Aziraphale couldn’t quite shake forced his hand with the holy water. He’d tried to forget the request entirely, distracting himself with human ideas, like the Gavotte, food, and poetry. It took a couple decades for him to make peace with it, but the little voice of affection, having found a better foot to stand on, kept nagging at him. Crowley had trusted him, and done him such favors over the years. Did he care about the demon enough to repay the favor? There was still a lot he wouldn’t dare admit, but, he supposed, he could admit that much. He cut off Crowley’s ridiculous heist. He handed over the holy water. He prayed, though not to God but to no one in particular, that Crowley would never use it.

Then the call came in from Crowley, as did a warning from Gabriel: armageddon was nigh. That first day after the delivery of the antichrist was the most time Aziraphale and Crowley had spent together in centuries. Drowning their fears in food and drink. In conversation. For most of their time together Aziraphale was wrapped up in the implications of armageddon, but then he slipped up.

“Well, I’ll be damned!”

The most beautiful smile broke across Crowley’s face, and that affection swelled painfully in his heart again.

“It’s not too bad, once you get used to it,” Crowley replied, and a spike of angelic guilt shot through him. Think of heaven, think of how out of place these feelings are. He had to remember his responsibilities. His face fell, the combination of guilt and affection turning his stomach in the worst way. And right after all that wine.

He saw much more of Crowley while they worked together from their opposing sides, watching Warlock for those eleven years. All the more time together, all the more moments for his affinity for the demon to raise its ugly head (oh, but that was rude to such a lovely emotion; it was really quite beautiful, if complicated). He never considered mentioning any of this to Crowley, of course. He was still quite adept at pushing the feelings away, shutting them down. An angel couldn’t love a demon in good conscience. It was happenstance, or demonic power. It was ridiculous. And besides, it wasn’t like Crowley could possibly feel the same. What self respecting demon would? He may have given some advice to young Warlock that was a little too close to home (“Sometimes we love someone particularly because those around us don’t.” “Love isn’t always sensible, young Warlock.”), but nothing more than that. After all, he had to focus on averting the apocalypse. To save the humans, and the books, and the sushi. Afternoons in the park with Crowley hardly factored into it at all.

But then the apocalypse didn’t happen. Only barely, of course, it was a very close call. It had been a long, hard road back to a table at the Ritz, but they had made it. Here they were, side by side, and Aziraphale found himself once again overflowing with love for the demon. It had snuck up on him, gradually, hidden under the stress of trying to prevent armageddon. A little at the paintball range, a little dropping off Anathama, a lot on and around the airfield. He started to notice it, really, staying in Crowley’s flat the night after armageddon’t, but had chalked it up to the high of saving the world, and pushed it aside. He still managed to keep it just below the surface at the Ritz, but when he finally returned to the bookshop he found it lingered worse than usual. He wanted desperately to return to the status quo. Back to suppressing flares of emotion. And yet, the whole world was just a little different now, and he found that he missed Crowley a tiny bit already. It was harder than expected to finally part again, after so much time together. For millennia they met each other sporadically, separating without any idea when they’d meet again. Now that uncertainty nagged at him. Perhaps he would see the demon again soon. It’s not as though Heaven could hate him any more than they already did.

Oh, that made a lot of things a little harder to ignore.

One of the particularly nice changes after the almost-pocalypse was that Aziraphale found himself with a few more earthly friends than he’d had in a long time (he’d last been so social when he frequented those gentlemen’s clubs). He’d grown especially fond of Madame Tracy. It was only natural after sharing a corporeal form for several hours. She was someone with nearly as much life experience as a human could have, and absolutely lovely to talk to. They frequently had tea together. 

After several chats together, about three months after armageddon’t, Madame Tracy took a sip of tea and posed a peculiar question,

“That’s not your wedding ring, is it?” she asked, indicating his pinky. Aziraphale only barely managed to swallow his tea without incident. 

“I beg your pardon?”

“Well, I just thought it would be an awfully strange place to wear it. Do you not have one?”

He tried to set down his cup as gently as possible, and cleared his throat of the tea that didn’t quite make it down without incident.

“I’m not married,” he pointed out.

“Really? I could’ve sworn—“

“You were at least partially aware of my thoughts and memories,” he pointed out, “how could you possibly think I was married?” what woman, in all of heaven and earth, could she possibly think he’d settled down with? For that matter, she had enough access to his mind, why would she think he would settle down with a woman?

“I suppose you’re right, I’ve never been married either. I can’t really hold it against you. But that demon—“

“Crowley?!” Aziraphale was lucky he hadn’t taken another sip in the meantime. That could’ve gone quite bad. “I-I’m not— why would you—? He’s— I’m—“

“Don’t try and tell me you don’t love him,” Tracy said, raising an eyebrow.

“I don’t!”

“As you said, I was aware of your thoughts and memories. And you don’t make a living as a phony psychic without knowing how to read body language, darling.”

Aziraphale opened and closed his mouth far too many times, trying to think of how to explain himself. The only time he’d felt more scrutinized was when the almighty asked about his sword.

“Per-perhaps I love him,” Aziraphale said, tentative, “but I’m not in love with him. It’s simply angelic love! I care very deeply about all of God’s creations.”

“Do you care very deeply about the ways all of God’s creatures hips move?” Tracy asked, taking another slow sip of her tea. Aziraphale scowled.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Do you care very deeply if all God’s creatures think you look nice?”

“Now, hang on—“

“Do all of God’s creatures call you ‘Angel’ affectionately?”

“I am quite literally an angel!” Aziraphale retorted, not enjoying how his corporeal face was heating. “I am not in love with Crowley! We’re… friends, perhaps, but that is all.”

“If you insist,” Tracy relented with a tilt of her head.

“I do.”

“How would you feel if Crowley was in love with someone else?” she asked, leaning a little closer. Aziraphale flinched.

“Don’t be ridiculous. I— I’m not even sure demons can feel love.” he tried very hard not to remember how Crowley talked about children, small animals, particularly impressive old trees.

“It’s only a hypothetical,” Tracy assured him, but the hint of a smirk at the corner of her mouth was starting to give her away. He could read body language, too. 

“Who would he even fall in love with?” Aziraphale said. He could barely keep eye contact with her now.

“Oh, I don’t know. A human, a demon, an angel.” That last word felt like a knife twisting in his heart. Not only was it unpleasant, it was not a good sign. “Anyone could be fair game, I’d assume. Have you ever talked about that sort of thing?”

“Never,” Aziraphale admitted.

“Perhaps it’s time,” she offered. “you’ll never know anything if you don’t ask.”

“Perhaps…” he echoed, but he’d never been good at asking questions, and the answer could destroy him.

Still, the mere thought of Crowley loving someone, unbeknownst to Aziraphale, had his stomach twisting and turning. He couldn’t let the idea go. It made him nearly so nervous he was starting to be put off his food.

A few days later he was seated beside Crowley at lunch again (a nice habit they’d picked up after the world didn’t end). He didn’t even realize he’d been fidgeting until Crowley spoke up,

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